*we put the "mmm" in communism


This is the personal blog of Tim. Here, Tim writes on anything he has enough inspiration to finish a post on. That usually ends up being matters of science, pop culture, technology, religion, and philosophy.

This blog is around nine years old, which is over a third of Tim's current age. Back in 2003, it was called "Of Tim: Tim's life - or lack thereof", and it was as bad as you might expect the blog of a freshman in high school to be. Tim hopes that his writing is a little better, these days.

Tim welcomes any input that you, the dear reader, might have. Comments are very much appreciated, especially if you have a dissenting opinion. If you'd like to learn more about Tim, you might want to see his facebook or google+.

Also: Tim is a very avid consumer of various sorts of music. You may be interested in his playlists!

Deja Vu, Again (O.o)
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And here I sit, on this New Years Eve, not a one bit sad about not being at a party or other generic New Years gathering. New Years has never been a favorite holiday of mine, as the true retardacity of people is shown in full force, on public televesion, as they count down to 10:00, for some reason beyond me. I hold in my hands an coke float (a favorite snack of mine, you know).

I'm about hal-way through KotOR, knee-deep into NwN, and Doom is on the shelf. Rome is waiting its turn patiently. I managed to get myself back into the loop of life, and that's sort of calmed me down about school. My current mood is readily prepared to take it on.

And now...


A SURVEY! Muhahahaha, yes, I shall make you suffer through yet another one. Not in order of importance, mind you.

10 things that scare me:
1. Being talked about behind my back (Colette wrote that one, i agreed)
2. Losing
3. Rejection (Colette wrote that one too)
4. Old Age and/or Senility
5. Being stuck or cornered (not having any options or choices left)
6. Horror movies
7. Spiders
8. Really huge heights (like grand canyon tall, not two or three stories tall)
9. Silence
10. Me? :P

9 things that attract me to the opposite sex:
1. Knows and understands herself (this is a big one, it counts for a lot more than 1/9)
2. Honesty
3. Conversationalist
4. Courageous (not afraid, isn't scared of new or different things)
5. Slender
6. Logical
7. Optimistic
8. Strong (doesn't give in to pressure, especially peer pressure, firm in what she believes)
9. Open Minded (Colette had this one down, but this ties in with strong too. firm, but willing to see the other side of things)

8 things I love:
1. God
moi computar :-O
3. Anime
4. Attention
5. Friends
6. Compliments
7. Games
8. I can't think of anything life? marshmallows? donkeys? you choose...

7 things I hate:
1. Retards
2. Hicks
3. Retarded Hicks
4. Stupidity
5. Ignorance
6. Spiders
7. Preps

6 random facts about me:
1. What kind of question is this? No, really? Random should never be placed in a question on a survey.
2. I can't do this 6 times in a row, you know...
4. Get ready for this randomnization: I was born in Mississippi. Pretty random, I know. See, this is why I hate "random" questions.
5. I like techno? Am I random yet?
6. You know, random isn't random unless it's in response to a non-random statement or question. Random is not an element of text or conversation that can be produced on command!

5 things I plan to do before I die:
1. Get married, do the love thing, maybe have kids, we'll see.
2. Probably live. I wouldn't call the time from birth to high school living, persay, more breathing and doing lots of meaningless work.
3. Acquire and use explosive and/or automatic firearms.
4. Visit Sweden and Finland.
5. See a volcano erupt!

4 things I want to do right now:
1. Get back to playing games.
2. Talk to people, but nobody is online.
3. Listen to more techno?
4. Fly!

3 things that annoy me:
1. Druggies
2. Illogicalities
3. Canada

2 things I can do:
1. (this space has been intentionally left blank)
2. (this one too)

1 thing I can't do:
1. That clover thingy with my tongue

Last One Out, Hit the Lights (...)
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In a manner of 6 hours, the entire household is empty, oh so empty. I have that standard post-fun syndrome, which I get after any extended period of time which I enjoyed thoroughly. It didn't help when shortly after they'd all left that Mom came down to inform me of a horrid letter upon my 5-week report, commonly associated wiith "failing" or "flunking". I knew I hadn't been doing well in Math, but she refused to let us see our grades until the reports had been sent out. It's the first time I've had an F on any report (this isn't a report card, mind you, just a 5-week report). The thing that baffles me is that it's not that I haven't been focused on school. It's not that I haven't been doing my work (I have a 100% homework average in there). It's her. It's her tests. So many people fail them, so very many, I don't understand this woman. Was she never in high school? Is she just stupid? I honestly don't know. All my other grades were left intact (excepting German, surpise, surprise).

The thing that really gets me is that now, because of her inefficient and awful methods of teaching, I have to spend extra time and effort to try and raise this grade. My personal belief on school is that no time outside of 8:00 to 2:37 should be forcefully spent in there. Everything I need to get done should get done inside that block of time, if the teachers are doing things right. The real clincher for me is this: I know if I were homeschooled right now, I'd be getting twice the education, and spending half the time working on it. It's times like this that I remember why I chose to be homeschooled before. Oh, curse these public schools. Curse them.

That being said, I don't look forward to Monday much.
Behold, the Power of Froehlich (O.o)
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This week has been, in many ways, a week of...discovery. This is gonna sound cheesy, but I think I discovered the meaning of family. I had a long, long talk with Christopher, about a LOT of things, which we've never done before. I was already sort of "bonded" with Jonothan, but I think Christopher and I are so much closer now. I never understood why I was so much like my brothers and cousins, until I realized we're all Froehlichs. If there's one thing I want to remember in life, it's that I'm a Froehlich, and I always will be. Most people don't take much notice or pride of their name, and I didn't either until recently, when my teachers and friends started calling me Froehlich instead of Tim.

The thing I find so astounding about this is that I, a 15 year old kid, can have such similarities with a 50-something year old uncle, two cousins over 15 years older than me, and two brothers, all who have a generation apart from me. That bond, as I have learned this week, is family.

In light of this revelation, I've grown a lot closer to my family over the past few days. My uncle and my only other male cousin, Josh (29 or 30) arrived on Sunday. We haven't done anything spectacularly amazing, but we have spent a lot of time relaxing and enjoying oursleves, watching movies, reading, talking, sleeping, eating (lots of eating). I was watching the new Star Wars DVDs with John (they didn't make it any better, they stupified more stuff, but some parts are much clearer), and we watched Beautiful Girls the other night.

In other news, we got Windows XP Professional installed, and I now have about 2500 dollars worth of software on this machine. My Uncle Jim gave me Neverwinter Nights (Platinum), which is another game to add to the pile. For some reason Trillian has gone haywire, and Gaim too, so I have to reinstall Trillian before I can get back on IM, for those of you wondering about the lack of my presence on IM. Actually, I just fixed it, nevermind. I think we're about to watch the extended version of RotK, so I'm gonna go join them.
The Final Fantasy (O.o)
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[edit]Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone![/edit]

Ah yes, Christmas. I truly enjoyed mine, I hope you enjoyed yours. Christopher's here, he's been giving me all kinds of phat l00t for my comput4r. He's loaded a few thousand dollars worth of programs, music, and stuff onto my computer in his few days here so far. He still has yet to supply me Nero, some Moby, and Windows XP Pro (it's isntalled, but we need a serial key). It's pretty amazing - his song collection outgrew his 40GB mp3 player - he now has a 120GB External USB2.0 (Seagate) for his song collection, which is clocking over 16,000 at this moment. Yes, that's a whole lot of songs, with which I am partaking in the love. My cousin John (28?) just arrived, which is cool. He's not a geek, he's actually an actor, or rather, in theatrical college of sorts. He's pretty cool.

I woke up at 11:00 today, did the presents routine, ate our tradition Christmas breakfast (we don't do Christmas dinner, we do Christmas Eve fondue, which beats any Christmas goose by a mile) of Sour Cream Eggs (best breakfast ever, it may sound gross but it really is good). We watched a few episodes of Arrested Development (hilarious) and some Season 3 of 24 (so far it's the worst of the three, but still quite good).

Yesterday Christopher and I went to get my present, which happened to be in the vicinity of Best Buy. We were originally getting a hardrive, but my dad called Christopher in the middle of the searching process to inform him that he already got me one. So we decided to go for the Logitech LX700, the sexiest peripheral to ever exist. It's a wireless keyboard (About 2 dozen extra programmable buttons, black, soft-keys, solid, all around awesome) and mouse (7 buttons - technically 5, as there are only three "buttons" that are extra, persay, but the mouse can press down and tilt from side to side, useless, but hey, whatever. the battery is rechargable - you just stick it on the charger when you're not using it (most important to do when you turn it off), it has at least a 12 hour life, if not more, i have no clue, but it's Logitech, so, i expect a lot). These rock, which is good. To make life simple I'm making a bulleted list.

  1. Logitech LX700
  2. Western Digital 80GB IDE Hardrive
  3. KotOR
  4. Doom 3
  5. Rome: Total War
  6. 2x Sour Altoids - Apple
  7. Blue S-Type XBox Controller
  8. Barnes & Nobale $25 giftcard
  9. Blockbuster $50 giftcard (this came from my grandparents, which is actually probably a miracle of epic proportions. you see, my grandparents are probably the worst giftgivers known to the world. their most famous gift was a plastic statue of liberty AM radio - that's ALL it did. it was that nasty copper-green. they gave them to my parents before I was born, so I never got to see them. the next year they got the same thing. in the same way, my grandparents have completely failed in getting me logical gifts. for the past 5 years, i got model cars. they came in variations, sometimes like hot wheels, or sometimes in wooden versions. suffice to say, i don't even like cars. i never told them I did. we could never figure this phenomonon out. they also have a 15 dollar limit. my grandparents aren't poor - they aren't rolling in the green, but they aren't strapped financially, so it was always amusing to see what they managed to do within those limits. we were disapointed in a sick sort of way when we discovered my present to be, well, good. even if we don't have a Blockbuster within 15 miles of us, it's definately a milestone for my grandparents.)
  10. Every album from about 10 or 15 artists (I asked for Coldplay and Modest Mouse, but Christopher gave me a few others he thought i'd like).
  11. A lot of programs (Microsoft Office 2003, Outlook 2003 [which, for the record, is better than Thunderbird, Eudora, or any other POP3 client], SSH Tunneler, PGP Encrypter, and eventually Nero, Visual, XP Pro, and the Pro version of ZoneAlarm)
  12. Fuzzy Slippers!!
  13. Fleece Robe
  14. A picture frame + scarf (from Colette)
  15. ZSNES + a bunch of games (from Ben)
  16. Two chocolate turtles (from Jared)
My Uncle will be here tomorrow, and apparantly is bringing his gifts along to save the expense of unnecessary shipping.

Now, about this whole Final Fantasy business, I'm gonna have to smack a few people up who don't think FFVII is the best of the Final Fantasy series. Best game ever? Purely my opinion. The thing about FFVII is that it's not actually overrated. The fact that 5 people just said it in my comments proves me point. Outside of the RPG realm, the entire Final Fantasy series is looked down upon, even though most people have not played them. The strange thing about Final Fantasy and RPG's in general is their scope is limited, hype is minimal, the general audience of small. Despite this, they receive no less shame and humiliation from those who have not even played them.

Why is FFVII the best in the series? Graphically, it's visual diahrrea. The cutscenes and battle graphics were good, but most of the time you were in the world map or running around and such, and none of the models were rounded - everything was at right angles. It was good in its time, today it just sucks. It was THE FIRST 3-D turn-based-combat (TBC, also referred to as classic) RPG ever. Few people grasp this, but it was not done before FFVII. That's why the graphics sucked - it was an experiment visually. If you STILL try and knock the graphics, go back to your hole. It also had the disadvantage of being an early release on the console. The PS, if you remember, came out before the N64, and lacked certain anti-aliasing technology and other minor things that gave the N64 a graphical edge.

Moving on. The thing about FFVII was the plot, the characters, character development, and mood of the game. Unless you're an FPS or action-ish gamer, you can agree that FFVII had a near-perfect plot and implementation of the storyline. The plot, if described to you in person, would not make sense, it would seem corny and silly. Play the game, my friend, from start to finish. Tell me you weren't sad and surprised when Aries died, tell me you didn't find at least one of the characters really cool, tell me you didn't get bored of the game at any point. If you're a gamer who doesn't like Final Fantasy or RPGs, don't go and tell me you think otherwise, because I don't really care.

To be a little more specific, let's look at the choices you have with each character when it comes to magic, equipment, and attacks. For only have three equipment slots, the system is highly complex. Your armor and weapon both have "slots" which can hold materia. Materia are magical items that are either a spell, skill, or stat modifier. You put the materia in these slots to use the materia, or allow the use of the materia. That's not the complex part. It starts getting thicker by the fact that all materia change your stats. Magic materia make you physically weaker, and magically stronger. Skill materia will increase a stat related to the skill. The stat change doesn't do much until you get stronger materai - which end up changing stats by 15%. That's still pretty simple, right? Here's where it starts really getting cool. The materia have levels of growth. They grow by gaining AP from battle (just a different form of exp). Growing allows you to use the magic more times in a battle, gives greater stat bonuses, or just allows you to use the spell. Weapons or armor may be set to let your materia grow at a double rate, or at no rate, so some weapons may seem better but not actually be. Now, here's the final piece that makes the materia system awesome. Each slot is set one of two types - linked or single. Single materia are unaffected by other materia and do not change the result of other materia. Linked materia can add to the other materia, or change what happens. For example: If I have the "Counter-attack" materia, and i put it into one of two linked slots, and put the "Poison" materia in the other slot, I have a chance of poisoning the enemy on the counter-attack. The rate of success is dependant on both materia. If they're both mastered, I'll always counter, and the counter will always poison (succesfully or not is dependant on the enemy). You can come up with extremely complex combinations - it's what makes the magic system so cool. It's really complex.

Battle in generally really rocked (I can safely say, that if you really played the game, you would agree that it's better than FFVIII or FFIX, again, I cannot speak for the PS2 games). As for the plot? Play it. The characters? Play it. Just play the game. Another specific thing I should mention is the length of the game. You could probably beat the game from beginning to end in 25-30 hours, if you really wanted to. However, you would miss out on 90% of the game. The game has tons of stuff to do, explore, and find everywhere in the game. Even at the very end, there's loads to do. You can breed chocobos, you can race chocobos, you can play dozens and dozens of little minigames, you can level up your characters, get the ultimate weapons and final limit breaks for your characters, you can find all the materia, you can get the Knights of the Round Materia, its hard to describe how much there really is to do just at the end of the game. There's just as much during the middle - you can get characters early, you can do side quests, the game easily has 100 hours of stuff to do in it. I have the clock maxed in my game to 99 hours , 59 minutes and 59 seconds. I aint joking.

Why would GameFAQs have more FAQs and guides than any other game, some of which have been added THIS YEAR (this game was made in 1997, folks)? Go find out, and play it.

As for FFVIII...

I consider it a black sheep of the series. Why? The characters were highly unoriginal and extremely unlovable or stereotypical. The plot was fine, I hold nothing against it, but it wasn't superb. The combat was boring, as was leveling up. That's actually what I hated most. The combat was so slow, so boring, leveling up was just so easy. I had Squall to level 80-something on the third disc. Why do I find that wrong? Leveling up should be a challenge, it should be hard, I don't want it handed to me on a silver platter. Not to mention, there was no reward for leveling up. If you got stronger, the bosses got stronger, meaning you weren't payed off for your work. There was nothing "inventive" about the gameplay - I saw nothing new or innovative about the implementation, only a poor attempt at mixing things up. The graphics were at times, more frustrating than FFVII. The textures were so low-res, so pixelated and bad, I can't describe the amount of squinting I did. It hurt my eyes. At least FFVII was simple. The game was overall okay, but I really just did not enjoy it at all. I got to the third disc, and decided I had put up with it long enough.


I consider just behind FFVII. It was a good game - the graphics were solid, the movement and feel nice and smooth. The general gameplay was akin to FFVII, in that you had a main, driving storyline that you could jump onto at any time, but there were always minigames you could go play or you could go level up or just have fun. That's what I look for in an RPG - leisurely, go-at-your-own-pace gameplay. FFVIII forced you to jump ahead at points, simply out of boredom or otherwise. There were no side quests or minigames, for the most part. They had a bad version of the card game that was made in FFIX (which i still didn't really enjoy, but I had a little fun with it), and that was about it. FFIX had a lot of funny moments - it was the lightest, most humorous of those I've played (FFVI - FFIX). I especially enjoyed the chocobo quests - I had a LOT of fun playing Chocobo Hot&Cold. The FFVIII version was also far more boring and didn't even reward you for it.

I'll end my rant now, but I hope you understand my view on the Final Fantasies a little better.
Woof Woof (O.o)
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I have spent my week almost completely seperated from my friends, excepting those that have been playing Maple Story. I can say for sure that this is the best free game I have ever played, beating even the incredible Infantry. Yes, even Infantry. For those of you aghast at my lack of Halo 2-ing, I must state a fact that has remained true throughout my life: I am, at the core, not an FPS gamer. The first game I ever played and truly understood and enjoyed, was FF7 (this at the age of 7). I play FPS because I'm good at them and thus can enjoy them. I still maintain that FF7 is the best game ever created, and thus the upcoming movie FFVII: Advent Children has peaked my interest. I have found no easily accesible trailers to be downloaded, only streamed, unfortunately. Just do a Google for Advent Children. The CGI is outstanding, although the file itself or the actual animations suffer framerate issues for obvious reasons. In any case, I patiently await the arrival of the movie.

I feel like reminiscing about Infantry, so I'll do that. Infantry was a third-person (bird's eye) shooter. It was simplistic, yet really awesomely cool. It was set in the future, so you had your special doodad-taculars. Originally it was really boring - there were vehicles you ran around in and you just tried to hold these points in a boring King of the Hill form of a game. This changed once they introduced a very loose RPG system - you gained money and rank from kills and flag captures in these CTF-type games. You used the money to buy weapons, armor, or ammo. Most importantly, was the class system. There were dozens of classes, all unique. There were Heavy Weapons (not demolition, they used higher-powered rifles and grenades), Infantry (they were boring and noobular), Jumptroopers (Fast, Maneuverable, Light), Scouts (i think i may have the name wrong, but they were capable of being invisible and used the sniper rifle most), Engineers (they built turrets and defenses, which got their kills), Medics (infantry with healing), and a few others, as well as leveled up forms of those guys. Unfortunately, a few months after that version came out, it went p2p. It rocked.
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This week has been pretty good. It started out meh, but it gradually just got better and better. Gwen's, Paul's, and Ben (Feldman)'s birthday party was last night, which was pretty fun. Other than that, I've spent a lot of my time doing make up and retakes for school. On Wednesday I discovered I had an F in Chemistry (this was gonna go on the 5-week report, and that just wasn't gonna happen) which I resurrected to a B, possibly a B+ depending on the grade of an extra credit paper I did. I was frustrated many times by my English teacher. I had to make up this essay we did that I missed, so I told him I'd come after school on Monday, and then he wasn't there. I told him I'd come after school on Tuesday, but he wasn't there again. Even on Wednesday, he wasn't there, but he left the door unlocked, so I had to go through the papers on his desk to find mine (he finally let me do it during class that day, for a whole 20 minutes *grumble*), which for some reason was labeled "never showed".

Anyways, that's about the peak of the excitement I experienced. In other news, due to an anonymous tip from Mike, I learned of a secret game that everyone plays called Maple Story. In essence, it's a free MMORPG, with Gunbound-style visuals. It's mucho fun, especially when you're running around with a party of people and stuff. It's well balanced, and all character classes are unique from eachother. Definately worth the 170 MB download, IMO. My Halo 2 fanatacism has waned for the moment. I still maintain it's the most fun multiplayer game I've palyed, but my mood recently hasn't been suited for it. As in, I haven't been in a good enough mood to handle getting owned from time to time. I don't like the ranked games enough to really want to play them alone, either. I just don't enjoy the settings. I much prefer custom games, they're more laid back and enjoyable.

My first Christmas present has appeared under the tree! Not a clue what it is, as my parents are really good at disguising stuff. They'll usually stick easily guessed items (CDs, games, movies, etc.) in bigger boxes with lots of padding. Oh well.
Quiz-tacular! (O.o)
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Your soul is bound to the White Rose: The

"I've been waiting in the dark for a long
time, shining my beacon of hope through the
shadow. If you see me, don't you hide your
eyes from me."

The White Rose is associated with purity, honor,
and chastity. It is governed by the goddess
Artemis and its sign is The Cross, or Agape.

As a White Rose, you are a person of your word.
You may have a strong moral code, but
regardless of your virtue, you always stay true
to yourself. To you, love is the most pure of
emotional forms and it's just a matter of
waiting for it to bless you. Some people may
say you are too idealistic, but it's only
because you don't want to mess things up.

What Rose Is Your Soul Bound To?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wort wort wort.
Not for the Faint of Heart (O.o)
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Don't say I didn't warn you. I'll give you some leeway to make sure you don't scar your eyes on accident.

Yep, I'm pretty happy with it.

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Christmafying step III!

This is an ornament Jonathan made back in his elementary years, which is a favorite of mine:


I made this one in like, 1st grade!!

I've always like this one...

These ornaments are older than my parents...


And a some light-room after pictures!

And some dark-room pictures...

That's about it. That's just the livingroom, I decorated the rest of the house too, but that was the main piece.
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Had a debate on homosexuality with Colette, pretty different from all the gay marriage discussions, but a little bit long.

Homosexuality with Colette #1

I've been home SICK again, I slept for 14 hours. I'll detail things more later, but right now I'm not in the mood, I just wanted to post that discussion.
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Stayed home sick today, because, well, I'm sick. Daniel pointed out another form of Halo 2 stats compilation, in the form of a flash doodad.

Nifty stuff.
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Woo! My grades are sucking. But it's Christmas! And that means, Step 2 of the Christmafying of Tim's house! Pictures galore! In case you didn't know, these are thumbnails, click on them to get the bigger picture.

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Update stuff:

New Christmas List is up on the archive, and my Halo 2 stats are up over there as well. A note about the list: it's not a guideline for what you should get me, it's just there for my own amusement and to see what you guys thought of it. I don't want you guys to get me anything as I can't give you anything back, if you really want to, go ahead, but that's just my personal preference.

Don't be stupid on the comments, post however much you want, but there needs to be a point to the post. I will present to you my step-by-step process of Christmafying my house through pictures! Step 1: the tree and boxes.

Step 2: tomorrow!
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That last post was quite therapeutic. Yay. I finally have time to do all this stuff I've been wanting to do. I tried out this program from tracking all your stats on Halo 2, it's running right now. It makes me want to learn Perl now (as it's programmed in Perl). It has to download a LOT of HTML. First, it has to get all the list pages of the games you've played, and then all of the pages for each of your games (About 6 per game). At 17 pages of games, and 25 games per page, that comes out to 2500 pages of HTML it has to download. Then, it has to extract a whole crapload of stats from each of those pages (Kills, Deaths, Suicides, Headshots, Medals, Shots Hit, Shots Fired, Score, you get the idea) and then it calculates a few useful stats, like K:D ratios, averages, totals, most kills in a game, etc.. It's gonna be really cool once it's done. I'll post the stats of the Archive once they're done. The reason Bungie can't do this is it would take terabytes of bandwidth which would get very expensive, very fast. They have to purge the stats after a month or so to prevent useless pile up.

For now, I leave to go get a Christmas tree!
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I was in a great mood, until, randomly, I recieve this.

[15:00:12] TheMysteriousMrZ: so, i see that half-life 2 has remained in the top five while halo 2 is conspicuously absent from the top ten altogether.
[15:00:25] *** "TheMysteriousMrZ" signed off at Sat Dec 04 15:00:25 2004.

THIS is why Half-Life 2 sucks. THIS is why Half-Life sucks. I didn't want to have to make a post about this, but I'm gonna have to if I'm gonna get my point across.

Sure, four weeks ago I was confident that, according to Gamerankings, Halo 2 would have a higher score. In reality, I didn't care, it was just a fun bet with BEN (not Zach, mind you). I would have liked to see Halo 2 stay up there. The retardacity of this is that somehow the ranking score has turned into a numerical value of how good a game is. It's a summary, not a statement. I find it enough that IGN, Gamespot, and GMR all found Halo 2 to be a better game. I could care less about "Boomtown" and "eToyChest"'s ideas. You know why Halo 2 has such a low score? Because 6 sites, none of whom I've ever heard of, decided it's a bad game. I read them. As reviews, they SUCKED. If quality of reviewers could be measured, they wouldn't be included. Nonetheless, they are there, pulling Halo 2's score down a full percentage point or two.

That being said, HL2 has a higher score, fair and square, I suppose.

As for MY opinion of HL2 and why I think it sucks, I'll try and convey that now. I've seen HL2. I watched Zach play it for an hour, and to be honest, I was not amazed. From what I've read (I've read 3 or 4 reviews on it) and seen (I've watched a number of movies and screenshots), I can make some pretty fair statements here.

Graphics: Yeah, they're good. That is, if you have a good rig. Zach's machine definately isn't bad, (It's like 2.2 AMD with a 9600P, right?) but it didn't look outstanding on his rig. Good? Yes. Personally, I don't find the recent graphics of Doom 3 and HL2 all that amazing, they look dreary and dull. Elder Scrolls IV? Now that's beautiful, and it's not even a finished engine.

Physics: Get ready for this: Halo 2 and Half-Life 2 use the same physics engine. They both use the Havoc engine - HL2 uses a slightly more advanced and souped up form that allows some water effects (bouyancy) and just a little more detail all around. Personally, I could care less if the world I'm playing has realistic physics. The physics in Halo 2 are detailed enough that I can have loads of fun just screwing around rolling barrels and rocks around. Ben said something about the ragdoll not being good in Halo 2 - I beg to differ. Watching myself die is almost a treat - it's like a reward for doing badly. If I'm sniping and I get sniped back, my guy will fall backwards (not doing the flailing thing) and roll down the stairs slowly. So far I've never seen any unrealistic poses (think back to when ragdoll had just come out) or anything annoying and stupid. Yes, every now and then when you get blown up your guy will flail around, but so what?

Storyline: Keep in mind, I speak from ignorance and base what I know off of the Gamespot review. According to them, the storyline was weak, and not very good in general. The end was anticlimactic and ended with you fighting a weak enemy with an overpowered weapon. This is just what I read - don't look at me for innacuracies. Halo 2's storyline owned. I have to say, it was really good. Did the cliffhanger ending suck? Absolutely. I wanted the game to keep going very, very badly. That just raises the bar for Halo 3 - I expect a lot from its story now (Bungie has unoffically announced it in the recent Q&A). Apparantly HL2 still doesn't have any cutscenes, or third-person events for that matter, and Gordon Freeman never speaks. That doesn't seem like much room to make a plot. I don't think I'd like the entire story being told by people talking to you.

All that being said, there is still more to mention. Halo 1 had a higher average review score than Half-Life 1. When I compare HL1 and HL2, I don't see much difference. They look the same, they feel the same, they even SOUND the same (they didn't even put in new sounds for some parts of the game). HL2 = HL1 + graphics and physics. That's all I see. When I look at Halo 2, I see worlds of difference. H2 = H1 + much improved storyline/single player in general + huge gameplay changes (new weapons, vehicles, maps, dual wielding, no health, I could go on and on about the fundamental differences) + xbox live + graphics + physics. When I say HL2 sucks, I don't mean it's a bad game. I mean that by my standards, compared to what I enjoy playing, it is not a fun game that is worth my money. Steam alone is enough to push me away - I read the Game Revolution review, and that was a big enough factor to really change their score. Anyone with a non-state-of-the-art computer will have to deal with loading times and general annoyances. The implications of Steam are awful - if every company did this, PC gaming would go down the tubes.

That's just what I have to say.