I’ve pretty much had it with video games. There are very few that can hold my attention these days. Most are awful excuses for games that they want sixty dollars for. Even the ones that get good reviews I find are bad. Case in point: Gears of War.

I rarely spend more than twenty dollars for a game these days and thirty dollars is the exceptional high end for me. I no longer have any need for getting the newest games as soon as they come out. Been burned too many times for that. But I really wanted a new game because I played the excellent Halo 3 all they way through on it’s hardest setting and was hooked on video games again.

I checked all the review sites for the highest rated games that were sort off like Halo. I know no two games are the same but I just wanted something similar. I settled on Gears of War because is got such great reviews and looked like fun. I even payed thirty five dollars for a used copy of it. That’s how much I wanted a good new game.

It started out okay in the very beginning. The weapons were fun and the controls interesting. I don’t give a crap about the story in any video game so I ignored that here too. The first learning missions were okay. I had a good felling. Then it all came crashing down.

Gears of War is a squad based game. That means that along with you are three other guys in your squad that the computer controls. Non Player Characters (NPCs) is the old role playing lingo for them. A problem throughout video game history has been the fact that computer controlled characters are dumb and often more a hinderance than a help. But this is a new modern game with load of programers and processing power to make thing right. Right?

Wrong. The NPCs were dumb as dirt. At least once we got to this one spot. It was in a town. In the center of the town was a fountain or some such. It was circular and offered very little cover. Enemies could attack it from every which way. So where do my NPCs go? Right t0 the center of the fountain. Dumb asses.

After a frustrating few times of trying to make a stand there I decided to take a different tact. The enemies you have to fight come out of holes that magically appear in the ground. If you don’t throw a grenade down the hole more and more enemies keep coming out of it. I decided to try and take out the holes while my squad made their suicidal stand.

After trying this about a million times and blowing up hole after hole as my character died time after time I couldn’t take it anymore. I realized with all this technology, programing, and fancy graphics the game came down to throwing a grenade into a hole over and over again. Not much of a game.

And the fact that enemies came out of holes in the ground was annoying on its own. That is such a shortcut video game cliché. The enemy generator was a concept that worked fine in Gauntlet back in 1985 but come on. Come up with something new. If the terrain was thought out well (as in Halo 3) there is no need for randomly place enemy generators.

So then and there I gave up on Gears of War. I had no interest in repetitively throwing grenades into holes. I haven’t even tried to find a good console game since. And this happened last fall.

I did just pick up the John Madden Football 09 Anniversary Edition. I’m a New York Giants fan and wanted this just because it was the one that was released the year after the Giants won the Super Bowl. I wanted their Super Bowl roster. I waited until now to get it because it is twenty five dollars instead of sixty. No way is a Madden game worth sixty bucks.

I’m glad I did wait too because I find the game nearly unplayable. It’s pretty awful. To start with the play diagrams are practically unreadable. I have never seen football diagrams in a video game take up so little screen real estate. Maybe it’s readable in high def but on my regular 27 inch TV each play diagram is about four inches square. And the game plays as horribly as all Madden games have for a decade now. Makes me wonder why I wanted it.

The only good game I’ve played in while has been Advance Wars (whatever number) for the Nintendo DS. I played that one to death this past winter. All the Advance Wars games have been good so I knew I couldn’t go wrong with that one.

It’s a good thing that my iPod touch has become such a good gaming platform. It’s the only thing I’ve been playing lately. There are a lot of cheap games for it and some good ones. Plenty of crappy ones too but who cares if they are just a couple of bucks a piece. And there are actually games to be had. Not just fancy graphics with very little thought put into gameplay.

And yet I still miss the good console games. I’m sure there are some of them out there. I like the Call of Duty and Halo games but they are few in number and hard to find. Maybe I’ll give Fallout 3 a try if it ever comes down to a reasonable price. Until then I’ll continue with the iPod games.