Grad School Gaming

After a yearlong break from formal education, this week I started a yearlong masters program in education. After only two full days of class, what could I have possibly learned so far? Not much, except that gaming time will be hard to come by over the next ten months. 
 
And then I remember that I have a DS. It's the original old-school phat model, generously donated by my younger sister once she got a chic pink DS Lite, but it's a DS all the same. For about two years, I made do with Geometry Wars, FFIV, and FF Tactics Advance 2. Seeing how I have an hour long commute to school in the morning and evening, I have a feeling that my DS will be getting the bulk of my gaming time, with my PC being used for work and research and my consoles mainly for Netflix streaming before I fall asleep. 
 
Once I realized this, I figured I'd need some games, so I snagged cheap copies of Pokemon Platinum, both Layton games, and SMT: Strange Journey off Amazon. I also found copies of SMT Devil Survivor and Phantom Hourglass that I'd previously purchased but barely touched. My gaming time may be limited to two hours on a bus each day, but I think it's gonna be a good year.

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Why haven't Action-RPGs evolved past Diablo II?

I bought Torchlight a few months back to get a quick Action-RPG fix (the $5 asking price didn't hurt either) but it didn't hit me until recently that I didn't need to. I already have Titan Quest, Space Siege, the Dark Alliance games for PS2, and the awesomely bad Sacred 2 to keep me company. 
 
There's something distinct about all of those games, but nothing that clearly differentiates them from any other loot-based point and click game. Developers have had so much time since Diablo II to move the genre forward and yet they haven't. I'd love for someone to bring something new and interesting to the table, but the more ARPGs I play the more I start to believe that the genre makes that almost impossible.

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Too many games...

I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but I've got way too many games to get through. Having just bought a new computer in November, I've taken advantage of the innumerable sales over the past two months and have loaded up my shiny rig with tons upon tons of gaming goodness from the past 3 years (my laptop utterly failed to run anything more complicated than the original Far Cry.) The Witcher, Supreme Commander, Machinarium, Mount and Blade, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Borderlands, The Orange Box, Dark Messiah, Far Cry 2, the entire Dawn of War series, Red Alert 3, Dragon Age (played through on PS3), all the Call of Duties except 1 and 3, Mass Effect, Arx Fatalis, Divine Divinity, Fallout... and the list goes on and on.
 
The good thing that comes out of this, however, is that I'm not inclined at all to pick up really anything in Q1 2010 except for Mass Effect 2, so I'll save some money by getting all those games closer to the summertime.
 
At present, though, I'm rather at a loss on where to start. Any suggestions?

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QOTD: Worst game played this year...

I can't quite decide between Sacred 2 and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements. Sacred 2 just seemed to be so unforgivably broken in just about every way (plot, dialogue, pacing, assortment of powers, etc) that I went through it simply to see how far the trainwreck would progress. Me and my buddies probably got more enjoyment out of the sheer awfulness of the game than we did from the best games of the year.
 
DMoMaMasdlSIddfhw: E, on the other hand, is straight up awful in a way that brings no enjoyment. It's just flat out bad in every way possible.

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Golden Axe

This is a pretty big throwback, but I'd wager that Golden Axe has fallen farthest from the tree.

The first one was incredible, the second was great, the third lost sight of what made the first two fantastic but still ended up being a fun game. Then there was Golden Axe: The Duel... and the release of the original on XBLA that made the game feel flimsy and cheap (GA is dated for sure, but not THAT dated.)

Now we're gonna be getting Golden Axe: Beast Rider and it's got "Dud" written all over it. The animals in the earlier games were fun, but they were also undeniably cheap to use; they took out any challenge the game had. Gimme an updated take on the classic formula. What Maximo did to Ghouls and Ghosts should be what happens to Golden Axe, not this travesty.

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