Turning Point: Fall of Liberty Review

Joe Otis

The world is in crisis. The man who was meant to help fend off the Axis powers died before he was able to make a difference. Germany has expanded its empire to the ends of the Earth…

…and now their eyes are set on the U.S.

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is a WWII game that is, plot-wise, much different from its predecessors. Instead of focusing on winning the war and saving the Allied Powers, the game’s story is based around a “what if?” scenario. What if Winston Churchill had really died in the taxi accident? What if the Nazis had gotten a chance to invade the U.S. and get further towards world domination? These questions and more make up the backbone for TP’s story.

Developed by relative newcomers Spark Unlimited (Call of Duty: Finest Hour and the upcoming Legendary: The Box), and published by videogame veterans Codemasters (Overlord and Clive Barker’s Jericho), Turning Point has some pretty good experience behind it. As previously mentioned, the game’s plot is different, to say the least. The player takes control of a New York construction worker by the name of Dan Carson. Once the game loads up, you’ll find yourself on a construction site as the Germans begin attacking. Your first task is to make it down safely to the bottom of this structure by walking on the beams. Piece of cake.

As you progress through the campaign mode, you find yourself joining a resistance bent on liberating the U.S. and defending their freedom at all costs. The first section of the game consists of you (Dan) trying to make your way out of New York City along with the rest of the resistance. When you finally make it out, your journey takes a turn and you end up in Washington D.C. plotting both the rescue of a U.S. general, and the assassination of the President himself. After your business in Washington, you get shipped off to London, England in order to disable the German’s new weapon: the atomic bomb. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s sure to knock your socks off; it is the perfect way to end the game with a bang.

The control scheme is best compared to Call of Duty 4, and, while not being a bad thing, there’s really nothing much that can be done to revolutionize them. One fun feature that is included in this game is the ability to grapple enemies by use of the B button. Once grappled, you can choose to either: instantly kill them, or take them hostage by pulling out a pistol (that seemingly neither you nor your hostage had prior to the grapple). The latter option allows you to use the enemy as a human shield and still shoot with the aforementioned pistol. This is very useful in tight situations when you find yourself needing a bit of cover or some extra ammo. Sure, the shield doesn’t really protect you from everything, but there’s always that adrenaline rush when you know that you can just as easily bop him on the head with the pistol (again, the B button), once you’ve got him in your clutches to kill him instantly. With the instant kill option above, a majority of the time you beat your enemy down with a gun or throw in some punches and kicks in order to kill them. However, every once in a while you’ll perform an environmental kill, where you kill your opponent using whatever is near (in one level you even throw a Nazi soldier into a furnace). As demonstrated by these features, there’s rarely a dull moment when messing around in campaign.

Goodyear blimps gone bad.

The game also offers the ability to use various surrounding objects such as dumpsters or poles to make your way through the game. The B button is again used to hold on to the latter (the A button for climbing onto dumpsters), and the control stick is used to move Dan while holding on. This feature is really nothing special, but it does further demonstrate how Dan’s job as a construction worker has prepared him for certain situations, which adds a bit to his character.

Another unique feature found in Turning Point is the weaponry and machines; the majority of which are based on actual WWII weapons and vehicles that never made it into mass production. A prime example of these is the Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus, a heavy tank that only made it into prototype stages during WWII. The implementation of some of these weapons and vehicles clearly shows the attention to detail and research that went into the game, and offers an interesting perspective into what could have been had the war gone on longer.

However, even after all that originality, Turning Point seems to fall short in basically every other category. Even the story itself is relatively short and lacks what could have made it much more enjoyable: depth. On one hand, we know that Dan Carson is a construction worker from New York, who is willing to put his life on the line for his country’s freedom. On the other hand, there’s little to nothing throughout the rest of the campaign that delves deeper into his background, his personality, or anything else. It would have been nice to catch at least a glimpse of Dan’s personality, but sadly this is one of those games in which the main character hardly ever speaks.

The multiplayer portion of the game is pretty bad. Grappling is completely removed from online play and the furthest you can go into customizing your arsenal is choosing which primary weapon to carry (a pistol is the secondary weapon). At least the ability to pick up weapons of the fallen is included, but this is just another strike against Turning Point.

There are only two game types: deathmatch, and team deathmatch, and both get boring quickly. In addition to the monotony, the odds of even finding an online game at certain times are slim. I went through and checked each mode (ranked, and unranked), and found only one game at that time. I would, however, expect this amount to rise once the worldwide release date is met. Still, with the inclusion of only two game types and four maps, there’s really not much to do aside from getting the achievements unless you’ve got a few friends that are willing to play.

Probably not the best place to be heading.

The graphics are decent, but nothing amazing. In comparison to the abilities of today’s visual technology, there’s little reason for Unreal Engine 3 (Mass Effect, Gears of War, and Bioshock, among others) to be lacking. Don’t get me wrong, the game has solid visuals, but it’s really not up to speed with what Unreal has been proven capable of thus far. That said, the game still runs smoothly and the graphics neither distract nor interfere with playing. You won’t be hearing about how amazing Turning Points graphics are, an unfortunate thing, given that they’re not that bad.

Like the graphics, the audio is basically on par with most other decent games. There’s nothing special in this case, and aside from the cutscenes, it’s hardly noticeable when you’re concentrating on shooting. When you do take a second to listen, it’s nice, yet completely forgettable.

The achievements are surprisingly well thought out. While few will actually play enough multiplayer to get some of them, the campaign mode offers enough side activities that grant achievements to keep you busy for a bit. One of the more hilarious achievements is called “Swirly Time!” where you must perform an instant kill on an enemy right near a toilet, causing you to drown him. A similar achievement follows this same pattern, but instead makes use of a nearby television. Clearly whoever wrote these achievements had a sense of humor, evident by certain names like “Maybe I Should Go Outside…” (which involves getting 2500 ranked match kills in multiplayer), and “Exploding Monkey” (unlocked after killing four enemies with one explosion). Achievements like these are a breath of fresh air in a world of sub par lists.

Turning Point is one of the few games that balances easy, hard, and time consuming achievements fairly well. You can easily get at least 200 points in your first time the campaign just by playing straight through, and well over 100 more points by performing various acts during the levels. The only real downside to the game’s list is the sheer amount of multiplayer achievements, since not many will wish to sit through the mode to get them. It should also be noted that the achievements for beating the campaign mode on certain difficulties are not stackable, which means if you want them all, you’ll have to play through three times. Luckily just playing the last level on a different difficulty will grant you the achievement, as the replay value for this game is relatively low.

To be honest, I never even noticed the in-game background music until I actually looked for it. The voice acting for the cutscenes is done well, and the weapon sounds are good too. There’s really not much to say, since it’s such a minimal part of the game. Neither good nor bad, the sounds in Turning Point are “there.”

Solid effort, but these really could have been much better, given Unreal’s abilities. This won’t be winning any awards in the graphics category; that much is for sure.

Turning Point is pretty fun the first time through, but I can’t imagine anyone going back multiple times unless it’s to collect the rest of the achievements. The controls are easy to grasp for anyone who has ever played an FPS, but there are some faults. At times the L trigger (used for aiming with the iron sights) can cause a lockup in-game that keeps you zoomed in until you re-pull the trigger, and the grapple is sometimes unavailable, causing you to back up and charge at your enemy a second time for it to work.

The story is the main reason I ended up buying this game, yet even that leaves me wanting more. Basically everything (sans the achievements and plot) is a disappointment to some degree, and while fun, this game isn’t worth the $60 price tag. My recommendation is to wait for the price to drop to around $30, or just go out and rent it, as regardless of how much a let down it was for me, it’s still worth a playthrough.

Aside from the story, the achievements are one of the game’s strongest features. A combination of witty names and well-balanced achievements make Turning Point’s list very enjoyable. The only drawback is the vast amount of multiplayer achievements.

The idea was excellent on paper: a WWII game that breaks the mold of all its predecessors, paving a way for “What If?” games in the future… Too bad the actual product lacked the excellence first imagined. Turning Point could have been an amazing game. They had a very well thought out story going for them, some unique concepts for weaponry, a character who wasn’t some war hero out to save the world, and just enough hype to make it known yet not overshadow it. Still, the execution was what killed it. I truly believe that, had they given the development at least another few months to beef up the visuals and sounds and maybe even add a bit to the campaign itself, this could have been a great game, possibly making a few top 10 lists along the way.

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