(11/27/09: The search field in the lower left sidebar is now up to date, so you should be able to use it to find any comic you like. Please test it and let me know if there are any problems or complaints. <3 Mike) 

The best thing is, they can still use the abbreviation “TMNT.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all have a fun and safe holiday full of pie, football, and little-to-no family drama or fisticuffs. Below are this week’s topics:

READER GOODNESS
One of our readers shared this link with us on an older comic, and I have to agree that it’s pretty great. It’s a link to a FAQ about the plot of Transformers 2, just loaded to the gullet with all kinds of hilarity. I highly recommend giving it a read.

WEBCOMIC FUN
If you’re looking for a nice little webcomic to check out, allow me to recommend superpoop.com. It’s a bunch of short, 1-3 panel photo comics that are for the most part delightful. Just discovered it this weekend, and thought I might as well share. Give them a visit here.

VIDEO GAMES THAT ARE NOT DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS
For those of you on a tight budget/time allowance, I thought it might me nice to quickly mention a game that could better serve your needs. Spectromancer is a PC game I’ve been playing for months now that is not only budget-friendly at $20.00, the gameplay is broken up into roughly 5- or 10-minute matches, perfect for people who don’t have the time to blow an hour or three on a sitting of video games.

Spectromancer was designed by two of the original designers of Magic: The Gathering, and plays very similarly to that famous card game. The few differences are: 

  • There is no longer a custom deck of 60 cards, instead each player getting a random draw of 20 spells that do not change throughout the match.
  • There are five spell schools, four of which you always have access to (fire, water, earth, and air), getting a random four spells from each per match. The fifth school is up to the player (holy, mechanics, death, chaos, illusion and control), which is where you get your last few spells.
  • There is no more “land” as a source for mana, players’ pools instead increasing at a rate of one per round, in each school.
  • You have access to all your spells always, only being restricted by what you can cast by the level of your mana pool.
  • Minor technical things like 60 life instead of 20, creature damage being persistent throughout a match, etc.

The game is quick, fun, and decently balanced for its genre. Besides human vs. computer single matches, which are fun because the computer AI is quite good at higher levels, there is also an entertaining campaign mode and multiplayer support, though I haven’t tried the latter in a while so can’t speak to its population size.

VIDEO GAMES THAT ARE DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS
As I said last week, I recently picked up the DLC for Dragon Age: Origins. As of this typing, I have played through both the initial adventure at Warden’s Keep (paid DLC) and the Stone Prisoner (free with purchase of game DLC). I say initial because I both of the downloads persist through the game after you “clear them of monsters” as they say, meaning that you can go back and revisit the towns for new stores, quests and blah blah blah.
As far as Warden’s Keep goes, I should say that before I even begin the review, once you clear the keep of monsters, you unlock an unlimited stash chest to store all your gear. I can’t really stress how clutch this is, since without it you’re left to your numerically limited inventory, which can be a real hassle since there are so many crafting reagents, potions, and party gifts to carry, it can be a real pain to micro-manage every single item. So basically, if you’re on the Xbox or PS3 and therefore can’t download a stash mod, I feel that at like seven bucks, Warden’s Keep is worth it just to not have to deal with a crowded inventory.

That said, the rest of the download is so-so. The plot was a little dull and convoluted compared to the story of the main game, though there were a few cool “wow” moments. There were a couple combat points that were a little tough, but overall clearing the keep was quick and a little too easy. Having the stash is nice, and so far two stores have opened up for me as well, but they don’t seem to sell anything all that great besides a few high-tier potion recipes that I can’t use yet. I’ll grant that not everything seems to be unlocked to me yet in the keep, but still, I’d have to rate the content decidedly “average.” But, to me at least, 7 bucks for unlimited inventory and a little extra gameplay is worth it.

The other DLC, Stone Prisioner, is a little harder to judge. For one, it’s free with an original purchase of the game, so if you did buy it first hand, I don’t really know why you wouldn’t get the DLC. But if you need to purchase it for whatever reason, here are my thoughts.

Rescuing the golem is a little more fun, though I found the combat situations you’re presented to be much easier than what you get in Warden’s Keep, and those were pretty easy themselves. The story I thought to be a bit more interesting and logically connected to the main plot, with moments that have a decent “punch” to them, be it funny or sad or whatever. The initial run through the golem’s town is about the same length as Warden’s Keep, maybe a little shorter.

As for Shale, the golem you rescue, I haven’t really had a good chance to assess his value gameplay-wise. He’s set up to be kind of a hybrid-tank character, with four modes you can cycle through for melee DPS, tanking, ranged and support. His weapon and armor equips, different from everyone elses, are these elementally themed power crystals you slot into him that provide appropriate boosts for whatever slot you want him to fill, like 30% physical resist or +4 to health regeneration, besides the regular things like boosting armor and damage.

His powers seem okay to me, though nothing that makes him really stand out from Alistair or Morrigan in terms of power or utility. The story aspects of the character, like the plot surrounding his creation and imprisonment, the voice acting, and his personality, are really fun though, so if you’re sick of Alistair’s constant incredulity or Morrigan’s rampant bitchiness, rescuing Shale might be worth it just to have a different voice in your party.