Gamewatch: Dragon Age II, Torchlight, Pokemon Black & White

Runic Games' Torchlight

It's back to BioWare's grim fantasy world of blood-spattered heroes and skull-faced Darkspawn with the release of Dragon Age II (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) this Tuesday. Grizzled roleplaying vets are watching this one closely, especially after BioWare overhauled the combat engine to make it play more like a hack-and-slash. The time I've spent with the game has me thinking the optional pause-play option won't allay their fears, since you're forced to pause, discouragingly, ever other second, just to keep up with all the incoming blows (ergo it's pretty much action-RPG fans or bust). ETA: March 8

Over Dragon Age II, I'd actually pick Torchlight (Xbox 360) as this week's standout release. Originally a late 2009 PC-exclusive, Runic Games' action-roleplaying tribute to Diablo one-ups the genre with slick-looking sepulchral levels and a pet you can deploy topside, without breaking stride, to sell your extra loot (see 10 Reasons You Must Play Torchlight). My only complaint is that it took way too long to port this one. ETA: March 9

I've never been much of a Pokémon guy, but Pokémon Black (DS) and Pokémon White (DS) seem to be getting raves all around, so maybe I'll give it a try. If you want the putative apotheosis of "monster-battle" roleplaying games, it seems they've finally arrived. The only reason to own both colors? If you want to build a complete "Pokédex," the game's Pokémon bestiary (649 in all). ETA: Now

The rest due this week, by platform.

PC: Two Worlds II Royal Edition, Major League Baseball 2K11, The Sims 3 Barnacle Bay

Xbox 360: Yoostar 2 In The Movies (Kinect), Major League Baseball 2K11

PlayStation 3: Yoostar 2 In The Movies (PS Move), Major League Baseball 2K11, MLB 2011: The Show

PlayStation 2: Major League Baseball 2K11, MLB 2011: The Show

Wii: The $1,000,000 Pyramid, Major League Baseball 2K11, Maximum Racing: GP Classic Racing, Maximum Racing: Drag & Stock, Heavy Fire: Black Arms

Nintendo DS: JumpStar Deep Sea Escape, Petz Bunnyz Bunch, Beastly: Frantic Foto, Atari's Greatest Hits Volume 2, Major League Baseball 2K11, G.G. Series: Horizontal Bar, GO Series: Earth Saver

PSP: Phantom Brave: Heroes of the Hermuda Triangle, Major League Baseball 2K11, MLB 2011: The Show

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