Turning Point: Fall of Liberty has you playing as an unlikely hero named Dan Carson who is caught in the thick of things when the Nazi invade New York. The premise of the game supposes that Winston Churchill was fatally injured in an accident while he was a visiting dignitary in New York City. Because of this world history is changed forever. The Nazi campaigns in Europe and Africa are not stopped by the Allies and the Nazis take over Europe. As a New York construction worker Carson witnesses the devastating Blitzkrieg that is the Nazi invasion of New York City from atop a sky scraper construction site.
The overall look of the game is drab and very blocky. Spark Unlimited's version of 1950‘s New York city is filled with generic textures, passable shading, and very few destructible objects. The lack of destructible environments really affected the immersion of the game. While in a subway I threw a grenade in the middle of a mass of allied non player characters and they just stood there while the smoke slowly dissipated. Not only was their lack of reaction to the grenade disappointing but in taking a few moments to survey the surrounding area I realized that almost nothing in the game had changed except for the number of grenades my character was carrying. After playing through the game I unlocked the concept art and almost wept when I saw the beautiful images that could have been. The art was incredibly detailed and very beautiful and revealed the developers true intentions at scope and environments that had sadly not been realized. Putting in those images as unlockable content is cruel considering that the game pales in comparison to the concept art.
Level design proved to be a worse foe than the Nazi themselves. Why does a game that has mechanics like climbing across gaps on pipes and shimming across ledges have instant kill zones where the player will die if ventured into? When playing the single player game I was often placed in situations where there is little cover and even if there was any around crouching doesn’t even place your character fully behind cover. I was often popping in and out from behind corners to take shots at enemies which became quickly tedious because of the lack of a decent cover system. One level had Carson, armed only with a single drum of ammo for his Thompson,parachuting onto the roof of a building right in between two enemy machine gun emplacements! A level that took place inside an air ship had enemy soldiers materializing out of thin air with jerky spastic animations as they tried to move through narrow corridors. These problems made the levels, in a game with no true boss fights, as difficult to survive as if there were true bosses in the game.
There were only a few game play mechanics that worked well. The one that stands out in my mind was planting timed explosives. I had to push aside the logical thought “Why do you have to assemble the bomb in the middle of combat?” and generally enjoyed hooking up the wires and setting the arms switch before sprinting to a safe distance. Grabbing pipes and swinging across them to traverse over gaps however was a pain because if you happen to be in a firefight while located under said pipe the action icon will replace your aim sights and hamper your aim. I also fell to my death several times before realizing that pressing the A button drops you character from a ledge while shimmying across it and the B button hoists your character up to higher ground.
The grappling system was the worst by far. The mechanics of the game required that the player character be a certain distance from an enemy for the grapple icon to appear. Too far and you’ll get your chest chewed up with hot lead, too close and you’ll get your face blown off.
The game doesn’t have a health bar but instead Carson’s vision degrades as he takes damage. As Carson takes more damage his vision begins to blur and colors fade and eventually time is slowed down. The change in vision is an effective visual cue indicating how close Carson is to death but as soon as time started to slow Carson’s death was pretty much immanent as there was often no way to get to cover before being killed.Weapons included futuristic German weaponry and basic US military WWII era weaponry. The only notable weapon was the panzershreck which had been updated to a three round anti tank weapon. Despite a large number of Nazi soldiers wearing gas masks there were no tear gas grenades or weapons that might have fired a similar projectile which was slightly disappointing. Other weapons includ the German MP50 and Vampire infrared sniper rifle, US Thompson and M1, and an assortment of pistols, rifles, and shotguns are also available as you would expect in a WII shooter. Most of the weapons were very balanced with the exception of the sniper rifle which was so powerful it would kill any enemy instantly no matter where the bullet hit.
The musical score added to the experience of game play but then the game play is so mundane that it might benefit from using your own custom track. Nothing says funny like killing Nazi with Michael Jackson singing in the background. Standard bullet pops, bangs, and whistles were average. Voice acting, while well done, did nothing to add to the sad lack of story and there is no reason to like any of the characters because they have no real personalities to speak of. If you’re going to force us to run through another WWII shooter at least make the characters interesting or the gameplay fun.
For Xbox 360 owners that are looking to increase their gamer score this title might be worth a look at. I played through the game once and unlocked a little less than half of the achievements in the game with little effort. A player who pays attention could get more than half of the achievements in the game with only a single play through. The reason why the achievements were so easy to get is that Turning Point, unlike most other games, doesn’t reward players with achievements for playing the game differently but rewards players for playing the game in ways they were probably going to do in the first place. A reward for killing 100 enemies? Yeah I was pretty much planning on doing that anyway, thanks.
When developers delay games from being released it’s usually for a good reason. Either gameplay needs to be tweaked, details in story changed, graphics optimized or sometimes all three. Turning Point is a game that should have been held back; to use the grade school term, and gotten a little more effort. Only the character models and music are up to standards. Everything else feels half done. The enemy AI is incredibly weak, textures pop and blur, and game play elements such as grappling and character movement lack the subtle changes they needed to make them work. Story suffers the worst as it is filled with plot holes and there is no clear motivation for the character to fight the Nazi invaders. Shotting games are quickly moving from just another excuse to blow things up into games with immerssive worlds where the story actually drives the game play. Despite Turnign Point having a potentially good story it does nothing else than introduce the player to new levels filled with enemies that do not grow in intelligence or difficulty. Even given the interesting game play mechanics such as environmental kills and shimming across pipes and ledges does not help this game succeed in becoming anything more than a mindless corridor shooter.