Operation Gratitude Bundle Round-up

The games are free, unless you want to not be a parasite.

By Daavpuke, Posted 17 Oct 2011

Since we currently have an article about another great charity to support troops and help people stay alive, safe and sound and fed, I thought you might want a follow-up. Like I once did for the YAWMA promotion, I’ll be going over whether or not you should dig deep for the action currently running on or “Operation Gratitude,” as they call it. Bar the guilt-tripping name, the short answer to whether or not to donate is: “Yes, obviously.” As it is about charity, it’s more about the donation than the quality of games. Plus, for the downright cynic, but also the butt-heads like myself that don’t want to (or in my case, can’t) make an electronic donation for the $80 value, there is no actual donation required. The games are free, unless you want to not be a parasite. Now who’s the biggest guilt trip?

Anyways, keeping in mind these are very casual titles, I’ll refrain from scoring them and try and just give a basic rundown of what to expect from each of them.  In any case, these titles are varied enough to be 5 different games, being poker, brain teasers, hunting, driving and a neat little puzzle drawing game. Let’s get this party started!

NoobFeed Editorial - Operation Gratitude Bundle Round-up

Hoyle Crosswords & Sudoku

Basically, the title says it all. The game offers hundreds upon thousands of puzzles for the fanatic. There’s one crossword mode, where random puzzles can be generated. Also, there’s one puzzle challenge, which gives a set of differentials when completing Sudoku’s or other puzzles. The Sudoku portion is considerably larger, with several modes like Mini for the beginner or larger, more complex challenges. Kakoru is one of the most intricate problems to solve, but this game also tries to mix some genres together, such as in Killer Sudoku.

Some background muzak loops around to soothe or dull the senses, but only consists of 2 discernable tracks. Luckily, they can be halted or forwarded if one would prefer blasting some NOFX instead; it’s not like the game is taxing on the system. In fact, perhaps it’s best to play this in windowed mode, if time isn’t a factor. Should things get tough, there is a hint button available in the above tool bar. Resistance is the key though. Have some honor, because this game is not good for the old self-esteem, not even in its easiest puzzles. It might not go above any standard, but at the very least, there is tons of content to be had in Hoyle Crosswords & Sudoku.

NoobFeed Editorial - Operation Gratitude Bundle Round-up

Bicycle Texas Hold ‘Em Poker

Let’s explain the basic rules of poker real quick. A number of players start off with 2 cards each, after which betting starts. After the first round of bets, 3 cards are turned over. Then, 3 more betting rounds and 2 additional cards are turned over. Players can use the 2 cards in their hands, along with the 5 communal cards, to come up with the best combination possible, following a simple hierarchy where more complex probabilities are higher than others. After learning these very simple basics, there are still rules for big and small blinds to grasp, which force players to chip in money and of course there’s the whole mechanic of calling, folding and betting in itself.

Bicycle Texas Hold ‘Em Poker is best viewed only as a means to learn the game or at best have a few rounds with friends. Tips can be put on to see if it’s wise to fold, call or raise, but other than that it doesn’t offer anything more than poker. There are a set of different visuals, but as with the annoying voice-overs, this isn’t anything desirable. However, a few choice game modes, like tournaments and one-on-one challenges, can prolong the game’s longevity beyond tutorial purposes.

NoobFeed Editorial - Operation Gratitude Bundle Round-up

Line Rider 2: Unbound

Line Rider 2: Unbound is a simple puzzle game where the goal is to draw out paths for a little sledding person to speed along to, so he may reach the finish, while also collecting coins. In a few game modes, players can use certain green areas to draw a path and make sure the child reaches the finish safely. Along the way, a quirky Road Runner versus Coyote tale will try and meld together stages, as areas become progressively more complex.

The game starts by explaining the mechanics, which are drawing lines or using pencils, after which the speed up and slowdown is introduced. It’s easy to grasp, but that doesn’t make the game easy. There will probably only be a few solutions each track and as levels start introducing high speeds and loops, the difficulty will ramp up considerably, no pun intended. Still, the simplicity of it all is easily combined and being able to watch a victory dance at the end is all this game really needs. Its cartoony visuals and giddy music keep gameplay fun throughout the game modes. There’s even a way to build custom tracks and let the imagination run wild. Line Rider 2 is good, clean, snowy fun.

NoobFeed Editorial - Operation Gratitude Bundle Round-up

Hunting Unlimited 2011

This virtual slaughter game has some yearly releases behind it. The title is self-explanatory: In a set of different locations, players choose a rifle or bow to hunt down defenseless creatures, while standing in a tower or running free. New weapons need to be unlocked with points by getting kills, which can also be enhanced by skill shots. These special shots vary in range and sporadically unlock a strange animation, with a robotic voice saying how impressed it is. Upon completing a certain location by adhering to the goal set, new and more dangerous areas are unlocked that naturally land bigger challenges. The core mechanic of it all is basic enough to keep the game standing.

Unfortunately, everything else is as stale as it gets. One must really enjoy butchering critters to make do with the clinically generic presentation in both visuals as in the disappointing sound effects. Not even the kills are truly satisfying, as shots rarely feel like they connect. The most the game offers is an occasional animal whimper. Die-hard fanatics can still get their kicks by staking out in nature and calling upon prey, but other than that, there’s more fun to be had in many a first person shooter.

NoobFeed Editorial - Operation Gratitude Bundle Round-up
This view is not recommended outside of screenshots.

18 Wheels of Steel Extreme Trucker

It’s simple to dismiss the clinical look of this game as a boring driving game, but in reality 18 Wheels should be viewed as a thorough simulator.  Through several planes and conditions, players need to make deliveries with a wide variety of trucks. And while the presentation is extremely crude at best, the core mechanic of driving a huge load cross-country safely works well and can even add depth if wanted. Buttons can be mapped to adjust anything from meters to windshield wipers and there are multiple ways to brake and everything. So, realism-wise this game delivers. Unfortunately, the controller set-up is very limited, leaving proper optimization lacking.

The problem with the prior is that it’s hard to force oneself into the realism aspect, as most times a simple driving technique of speeding up and slowing down will suffice. Additionally, driving rules don’t really apply, exacerbating things. Still, it pays off not to just make a straight for the delivery point, as cracks in the road can cause damage and using driving lines go faster; which adds to the end score. In the end, Extreme Trucker handles its chose path decently enough for the select few fans of wanting to get into the transport business.

Messing around with these games can have its advantages, but it does seem like the package is ultimately pitched towards a certain demographic. As it would probably fit the agenda best, most of these titles are geared towards the family household of good and clean traditional values, more or less. That isn’t to say that some of these games don’t bring forth proper quality, as there is certainly fun to be had in each one of them, barring maybe Hunting Unlimited. Also, the large variety in genres make for an adequate bundle of casual timewasters, easy to pick up. It doesn’t transcend much above certain Flash games for instance, except 18 Wheels of Steel, but it’s fun and entertaining for young and old nonetheless. So go out there and help your fellow man stay alive in one piece, safe and sound; it’s for the best.

Recommended Donation:  $15 and up, for five.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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  • the only on e i am really interested in is the poker game (poker addict)...which is why i didnt buy it sadly :(

    Posted Oct 17, 2011

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Publisher(s): NoobFeed
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Themes: Feature, Editorial, Interviews, Opinion Pieces
Release Date: 2009-02-14

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