Review: Turning Point: Fall of Liberty

turningpoint_box_art_ps3.jpgPutting aside the underwhelming feeling the pre-release demo left me with, I had such high hopes for Turning Point: Fall of Liberty. The WWII branch of the FPS genre has been growing increasingly stale over the past few years and Turning Point’s unique, alternate-history narrative premise, a storyline in which Winston Churchill is killed while on a trip to New York and Hitler’s German war machine is left unimpeded to seize control of Europe and invade the US, really had me believing that the game would deliver a refreshing FPS experience. Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen and my hopes were crushed in the process.

I guess my main beef with Turning Point is that the cool story that sounded so intriguing on paper actually turned out very dull and uninspired. In the game you play as Dan Carson, a construction worker who is up on the high steel when the Nazi forces waylay New York City and pretty much by accident becomes a freedom fighter in the US resistance against the invasion. The problem is that it doesn’t seem like any effort was put into developing Carson as a heroic figure you feel any sort of emotional investment in playing. He’s essentially a nameless, faceless protagonist with no backstory or character development. And the storyline is equally thin and forgettable. You simply run and gun through a series of missions — totaling no more than 4-6 hours, by the way — with a cut scene of little significance sprinkled in along the way.

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My other disappointment stems from the overall gameplay design. Spark Unlimited, a studio founded by former developers responsible for the hit Medal of Honor franchise, has proven great know-how in making WWII shooters in the past, but for whatever reason the team just didn’t push the envelope over what they’ve done in previous works. Honestly, Turning Point plays very much like one of first Medal of Honor games, it’s just that dated. The levels are linear, the enemy spawns are predictably scripted, the AI routines are rudimentary, and the shooting model is as run of the mill as it gets. I did think the third-person human shield and environmental/melee quick-kill mechanics were pretty neat, though, but not neat enough to rescue the rest of the game from its overall generic ways.

The presentation is painfully dated, too. Aside from a sweeping, beautifully composed musical score and some interesting weapon designs, everything else falls flat. Textures are bland, the environmental geometry is basic, particle effects for explosions and smoke look very glitchy, the animations (especially during third-person actions like climbing ladders and shimming across ledges) are laughably rigid, and worst of all the frame rate is extremely unsteady (at least in the PS3 version I played). So many of the set pieces that were meant to be so epic and memorable, like the opening sequence of NYC being invaded and the continued stages through the city streets seeing notable landmarks and buildings in rubble, simply don’t resonate as intended because the graphical quality isn’t up to snuff.

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So yeah, there you have it. For all its promises to not be just another generic WWII FPS, that’s exactly what Turning Point: Fall of Liberty has ultimately turned out to be. Even the multiplayer was half-assed. I mean come on, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch with four maps and that’s it, what the hell is that all about!?

Unless you simply must have another FPS to play, I’d say save your time and money for more fulfilling games.

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Pros:
+ Great musical score
+ Human shield and melee mechanics are pretty cool

Cons:
– Storyline falls completely flat despite its compelling premise
– Archaic game design – it’s just another WWII FPS
– This game runs on Unreal Engine 3!? I sure as hell don’t see it…
– Weak, tacked-on multiplayer mode is an embarrassment

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3, also available for PC and Xbox 360
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Spark Unlimited
Release Date: 2/26/08
Genre: FPS
Players: 1-8

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!