Reviewing games as you’d probably expect is more enjoyment than work, and is one of the best jobs around. But there’s always one game that comes along and rocks the boat and makes you wish you were working at a fast food chain. And, yes, dear reader, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is one such game.
Taking the premise of an alternate history in which, then unknown politician Winston Churchill was actually killed after a Taxi hit him while in New York in 1931 (which he survived in real life, of course), the game tells the tale of the would be future. With Churchill dead, no one else was apparently able to halt the German invasion, and so Hitler and his forces were not only able to quickly conquer Britain, but also Europe, the Middle East and Russia. America, on the other hand, were, rather uncharacteristically, a country of pacifists, unwilling to fight; abstaining from the war. That is, until the Nazis launch a surprise attack on New York, which is where the game begins.
As construction worker, Dan Carson, players are immediately thrown into the fray, and have to nimbly traverse steel girders (Dan’s working on a skyscraper at the time of the attack) and a burning, collapsing building to get to the relative safety of street level. It’s not long before you run into a Nazi trooper, kill him, and take his gun. Then, despite having no military or combat experience whatsoever, Dan is instantly capable of using any and every firearm he finds, including sub-machine guns, assault rifles, pistols, sniper rifles, mounted heavy machine guns, even setting explosive charges. We have to wonder why America even has training camps for its armies when people like good old Dan are such naturals. After getting to the street, Dan runs into a US military-type, who’s rounding up anyone able to fight, and so Dan joins the resistance proper. And that’s that, queue plentiful Nazi-bashing and paint-by-numbers FPS gameplay.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here; Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is bad, very bad, for many reasons. First, the visuals. Now I’m about as far from a graphics whore as you can get. I don’t need great visuals to enjoy a game, and really do believe that gameplay is all-important. But, when developers go out of their way to use something as powerful as the Unreal Engine, you expect to see some eye candy, but not here.
Turning Point really does look like a three or four year old game. More Xbox, than Xbox 360 (maybe even PS2). It has some awfully low-res, drab textures and painful animation. There’s severe slowdown in places (especially when there’s smoke around), and immersion-killing sudden pauses while the game loads the next section abound.
Environments are blocky, and even ruined buildings, which you’d expect to look patchy and blown out, look terrible. The level of detail is so low that it has a dramatic negative effect of the game’s atmosphere.
But visuals are one thing, and even the worst looking game can redeem itself with good gameplay. But Turning Point also fails here. The core game isn’t all that bad per se, and contrary to what I’ve heard others say, it’s not that hard to aim and fire, and for a short (very short) time, it’s actually fun. But, everything is just so, so dull and formulaic that this enjoyment quickly fades.
There’s simply no identity here, and nothing to pull the gamer in. The weapons, while admittedly limited to period guns, are all dull as dishwater and don’t feel right, and player movement is clumsy and prone to glitches, such as having to try and climb ledges and ladders multiple times or getting hung up on the badly designed scenery. I even ran into a bug that saw the game take all control away from me for no apparent reason, with buttons or analogue sticks doing nothing. While incapacitated, I was hastily killed by enemies, and was forced to restart a long section of the level. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.
The enemy AI actually tries to shine at times, by finding cover occasionally and using grenades, but all too often troopers simply stand upright in the open begging for you to fill them with lead. Hardly what you’d expect from an army that’s taken over most of the world. And friendly AI… forget it, they’re a waste of space.
Even the story, which is perhaps Turning Point’s major high point isn’t original, despite claims it is. Many should remember IO Interactive’s Freedom Fighters, which saw New York attacked by Russia in an alternate timeline, and veteran gamers will no doubt remember Command & Conquer Red Alert’s alternate history storyline where Einstein invents a time machine and uses it to travel back and kill Hitler, resulting in Russia taking over the world. Okay, so this time the Germans are the ones who dominate, but it’s hardly original is it?
If it was released as a budget title, or even as a mod for Unreal Tournament, then I’d be far more inclined to give Turning Point an easier ride, but as a full price commercial title, this should be consigned to the void as soon as possible. The poor graphics, uninspired, glitchy gameplay and terrible level design just don’t reflect a 360 title, or any other platform for that matter. I can imagine an alternate reality where Call of Duty 4, Halo or any other decent FPS didn’t exist where Turning Point would be great, but thankfully, we don’t live in it, and anyone who chooses this over the likes of COD4 really should see their doctor. Avoid.