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Turning Point: Fall of Liberty

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Spark Unlimited
Release Date: Feb. 26, 2008 (US), March 14, 2008 (EU)


Xbox 360 Review - 'Turning Point: Fall of Liberty'

by Jesse Littlefield on July 8, 2008 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Fall of Liberty takes players to new battlegrounds in World War II, ones born from a changed moment in history that led to the Nazi invasion of 1950s America, delivering an explosive action experience in a world where famous real-world locations appear startlingly different under Nazi occupation.

The only redeeming factors one could possibly claim for Turning Point: Fall of Liberty are its soundtrack and premise, and even these manage to fall short of mediocre, as the soundtrack cuts out in random places and the interesting premise isn't explored at all, as the story takes a backseat to everything else that the game tries to offer. Upon an initial glance at the box, you'll probably think of this as yet another World War II shooter that you shouldn't heed (probably the best course of action). If you look a little further into it, you'll find a title that isn't quite your standard World War II game.

Turning Point takes place in an alternate 1953, where Winston Churchill was killed in 1931 and never led Britain during World War II. As a result, the Germans swiftly took over Europe and decide to attack the United States in 1953. The game picks up from the perspective of construction worker Dan Carson, who's standing atop a skyscraper in New York City when the German zeppelins, bombers and troops begin their attack. Watching the zeppelins and bombers set the New York City skyline ablaze is probably the highlight of the game; things start to fall apart as soon as you take control of your character.

At the outset, you're given a very large heads-up that Turning Point uses the Unreal 3 engine. Because of this, you would think that you'd be in for a visual treat, and you would be wrong. The game has a few moments where it looks decent, but it suffers from texture streaming problems, and the final textures themselves still seem very low in detail. The lighting effects are horrendous, especially when walking around with your flashlight on. Many of the shadows will start rendering things in a bizarre manner when the flashlight hits them. Further dragging down the graphics are the hilariously bad animations (often there's a pause before an animation loops) and a hideous frame rate. Whenever the lightly destructible environments start showing damage or anything more than four enemies show up on-screen, the frame rate completely falls apart. The only likeable thing I found about the graphics was when the camera went into a third-person perspective. During these brief interludes, the frame rate doesn't falter, and the animation generally looks competent.

Turning Point sounds a little better than it looks, but that's still not saying very much. The audio highlight is the soundtrack composed by Michael Giacchino ("Lost", "Speed Racer") and sounds pretty nice. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, it can get pretty buggy at times, and the music will just cut out for no reason. The rest of the sound ranges from laughable to mediocre. Voice acting ranges from textbook precision to bad hilarity, and the same goes for the sound effects. In several of the early stages, there are bombers zooming around overhead with a ferocious sound. Several times, I mistook this noise for my washing machine during its spin cycle.

Although Turning Point starts off with you standing atop a skyscraper and watching the city get brought to the ground before you, there's no real sense of danger here because nothing seems real or nearby, but eventually, you need to turn around and make your way down the building. This is where you'll discover two things about the game: the sluggish controls and its heavily scripted events. The game has awkwardly placed controls, and both movement and aiming feel slow. It's difficult to follow moving targets, even with a certain degree of auto-aim being present. As for the scripted events, you're never given any freedom in how you get to or complete your objectives. Even on the skyscraper, alternate pathways fall away as you approach them, and this quickly becomes the standard as Turning Point wears on.

Many good games are heavily scripted, so that can be forgiven. The problem here is that Turning Point is so buggy, poorly designed and not fun to play that the scripting makes it seem that much worse. The level design, especially during the early levels, is beyond terrible; you'll frequently have to clear out a room and then drop down some small hard-to-find hole in a dark corner of the room to make it to the next area. Perhaps this would be fine if the firefights were any fun, but they're not. The enemy AI is virtually nonexistent, so they are content to just stand where they spawn and shoot at you. They will occasionally go for cover but never actually move out of it until you're standing right next to them. At that point, the best option is to press the B button to grapple with them. This is the highlight of the combat segment, as the camera goes out to a third-person view and you can choose if you want to kill the man you're grappling or use him as a human shield. You can even use the environment to kill the enemy with grapples, with the one at the beginning of the game's final level being the absolute highlight. This can't save the game from the rest of its problems, though.

Occasionally, enemies will run into something and get stuck in it. This sort of thing is much more frequent with your allies. Often you'll have an ally pop up, say they're here to help, and then they'll get stuck in a wall before they can do anything and you'll have to go on by yourself. This is probably for the best, as they're just about useless in combat anyway. They never actually hit anything and get in the way more often than not. During one level, I actually could not continue in the level because I had two allies who were standing in the doorway through which I needed to go, and they refused to move.

Topping off the bad firefights and terrible level design is buggy gameplay. The first time I booted Turning Point I didn't even reach the title screen before the game crashed my Xbox 360. When I was finally able to play, I experienced the game getting stuck in aim mode and not letting me fire several times. (The solution is to pause the game for about a minute.) After a few levels, text indicators on my HUD stopped displaying properly. I had to restart the game to get this working again.

Turning Point was a game that was frustrating from the start to finish of its short campaign. Most players will be able to finish it in about four or five hours, and after you finish the game, there is absolutely no reason to play it again. The story is virtually nonexistent and wasted with such an interesting premise. Coupled with the heavy scripting of the game, you'll find almost nothing new the second time around.

There is a small multiplayer component to the game, but it clearly wasn't the focus. There's only basic deathmatch and team deathmatch in place, with support for up to eight players. The multiplayer feels tacked on and boring to play, assuming you can even find a game. According to the leaderboards at the time of this writing, only 60 people have even played the game in the last week, and that number is sure to go down as time continues.

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty manages to fall well short of even the most lenient standards in almost every manner. The bad design choices and general feel of a buggy budget title make this an extremely hard game to swallow for $60. Even if the game was only $10, I'd have trouble telling you that it's a good idea to get it. Turning Point is one of the worst Xbox 360 titles I've played, and the only reason anyone should ever play it is if you love to see the worst of the worst, as this title certainly gives atrocities like Bomberman Act Zero and Fusion Frenzy 2 a run for their money.

Score: 3.7/10

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