Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Spark Unlimited
Release Date: February 26, 2008
When Turning Point: Fall of Liberty was first announced, I was a bit skeptical of what seemed to be another World War II first-person shooter. It's an extremely crowded field these days, and after playing numerous iterations of Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, I was really in no rush to experience another. However, I was intrigued when I found out that this "World War II" game wasn't actually based on WWII after all, but took place in an alternative universe where the war had never occurred.
Upon starting Turning Point, you'll be greeted with a rather ominous question: What would happen if Churchill had died and the U.S. had never entered into the European struggle against Germany? It's a fascinating question to ask, and aside from this game, I am sure there are dozens of History Channel documentaries to help you answer that question. It's always interesting to be able to visualize the "what-ifs" in our past, and Turning Point helps you envision how WWII would have turned out had Churchill met his end in New York City on that fateful day in the 1930s. Unfortunately, that vision is met with bugs, bad AI, and an almost laughable story line.
As the actual game begins, your character, Carson, is working atop one of New York City's future skyscrapers. The skyscraper hasn't been finished yet, and the sudden appearance of the German Luftwaffe make sure that you won't get any more work done that day. It's actually one of the better introductions I've played, as you have to run along steel beams and safely make your way to the ground (although you must follow a heavily scripted path to do so). The action and urgency are definitely there to get your blood pumping, but soon thereafter, the monotony sets in because there really isn't anything here that you haven't seen before.
Turning Point isn't necessarily a bad game. You'll be treated to everything you'd expect from a standard FPS, but is that really enough these days? After coming off what seemed to be a landmark year for first-person shooters in 2007 (Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, Half-Life 2 Orange Box, Halo 3), Turning Point seem almost archaic by comparison. There is nothing new to see, and everything that is here has most certainly been done better in another game.
One of the first things you'll notice about Turning Point is its awkward controls, which doesn't mean that it's difficult to move around because controlling Carson's movements is a pretty standard affair. However, the gun reticle control, which is the most important aspect of an FPS, reminded me of an early console shooters in that it was slow and imprecise. With only three options to adjust the speed of the reticle, you are pretty much out of luck; none of the options worked very well, although the default mode was the best of the questionable batch.
The only thing that really offsets the bad reticle aiming is the simple enemy AI; you won't ever need to worry about getting shot while you're trying to aim. They don't flank, they don't take cover, and they certainly don't seem to have any strong desire to kill you. If that's not bad enough, there were a few instances when I noticed some severe scripting bugs, such as when one of my own soldiers wandered around the battlefield, firing at nothing, and constantly aiming up and down. I attempted to put the poor bloke out of his misery, but the game wouldn't allow it!
As if the AI didn't make Turning Point silly enough, there are a number of questionable content additions that boggle the mind. First of all, why on Earth did the Germans love blimps so much? They are big, slow, and an absolute eyesore, although I will grudgingly admit that they were strong vehicles. My bullets just couldn't take down the blimps; I managed to destroy a blimp once, and that required shooting six rockets at it.
In addition to the robust blimp lineup, the developers decided to omit all blood. Why am I allowed to take a WWII-inspired gun, point it at the face of one of my enemies, and shoot it, knowing full well that he is going to die, but I can't see any blood? I understand the game was rated "T" for teens, but killing Nazis should be made at least a tad enjoyable!
The gameplay is a drag, but the graphics might be able to save the game, right? You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. While the graphics aren't necessarily bad, they're by no means top-notch. They are the very definition of the word "mediocre," so don't go expecting this game to razzle and dazzle you. What's really surprising, though, is that despite the mediocre graphics, Turning Point manages to stutter and hiccup throughout. It's very obvious that the graphics aren't taking up to much processing power, so why can't the title handle more than five guys on-screen at the same time? It's completely unacceptable, given the PS3's processing prowess.
If there is one area of Turning Point that performs amiably, it's the audio. While the voice acting is questionable, the sound effects for the weapons are surprisingly great, and the orchestral music is pretty good. It was very impressive, and I was left wondering if the entire development budget was spent in the audio department. Sound is a very important part of every game, but when the gameplay isn't any fun, even the best soundtrack in the world isn't going to save it. Due to the obvious lack in gameplay quality, the audio has fallen on deaf ears, as I doubt few people even bothered to spare this title a second glance.
Any modern first-person shooter would be crazy to think about leaving the halls of the corporate office without some sort of multiplayer portion. The multiplayer in Turning Point is a pretty standard affair (one to eight players, deathmatch, team deathmatch), and I was looking forward to testing it out … if I'd been able to find people online with whom to play. Nobody was playing the online multiplayer for Turning Point, and after I ran around in an empty map for a while, I can't blame people for not sticking around. Other, more populated FPS multiplayer matches are waiting.
While the initial concept for Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is certainly unique and fascinating, the title doesn't do anything that's worth talking about. The gameplay, graphics and multiplayer were all substandard, given today's expectations. Even the sound, which I so highly praised, was the only praiseworthy aspect of the title. Even the most die-hard FPS fans will have a difficult time finding enjoyment in Turning Point, and because of that, I have a hard time even recommending it as a rental.
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