In a market that is flooded with first-person shooters, many of them carrying a World War II theme, it is hard to stand out from the crowd. Producing an inferior product in such a crowded market is the kiss of death. Fortunately, for the wallets of gamers everywhere, the demo of Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty has been released early. Let’s just consider this demo a warning shot for your pocketbook.
First the plot. Maybe the only saving grace that this game has is that it at least attempts to be original through its storyline. The concept is that the Third Reich was able to overtake many nations because Winston Churchill died in a car accident, and now Nazis are attacking America. They’ve also been able to develop a few weapons that didn’t quite reach production in reality. They’re calling it an alternate reality shooter, but it’s really a world war two shooter with a plot twist.
The Demo (and I assume the finished product) starts with an incredibly boring and unnecessarily long ‘tutorial’ section, which seems to be designed for people who have either been living in a cave for the last twenty years or have mysteriously time warped from the year 1987. Basically, the game assumes that you don’t know or can’t figure out how to walk, climb ladders or shoot guns using your controller (or keyboard and mouse as the case may be). I thought that stages like this had been done away with over a decade ago. To top it all off, the fact that you actually need to press a button to climb a ladder is archaic at best.
The first five minutes of the game are literally spent tip-toeing along narrow I-beams at the top of an under-construction skyscraper. This approach is creative, but also very boring. On my second play-through, I decided to try jumping off of the beams to get down. When done successfully, this was an effective way to shorten the painful training exercise, but because I died a few times while figuring out how to do this, this tactic ended up costing me time in the long run.
As you walk through the environment, things explode right in front of you or they fall out from under you. This is attempt at spicing up the ‘learning to crawl before you walk’ portion of the game is clearly scripted, and also very annoying. Trying to figure out exactly where you are supposed to go seems to be the biggest challenge that the Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty demo has to offer.
Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty does offer some innovation in that you can grapple your enemies and either kill them creatively or use them as human shields. When using the enemy for cover, you magically whip out a pistol that you didn’t have before. Ironically, the pistol has pinpoint accuracy- the reticule for the pistol is smaller than those used for rifles in the game. which brings me to what is possibly this games’ weakest point: the weapons.
Weapons in Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty lack punch, and looking down the iron sights doesn’t seem to be any more useful than spraying and praying. Worse yet, the game usually gives no indication whatsoever that you’ve actually hit the enemy until the enemy is dead. Unless, of course, you’re sporting a human shield, and you shoot them with a pistol. Then you’ll see them wince as you attack them, but when using machine guns and assault rifles, the enemy is either happy as a clam or dead. Apparently this game is set in an alternate reality where the German soldiers don’t feel pain when they get shot with large caliber bullets.
When aiming, the game has an oddly timed left-right acceleration boost- looking hard to the left or right results in a slow speed turn, which after one second immediately turns into a medium speed turn. Even then, it’s a bit sluggish on the default medium setting, and way too fast on the high setting. Oh yeah, and there’s no setting in-between , so you’re stuck with one or the other.
Graphics in Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty are unrealistic and sub-par for this generation of video games. The characters look cartoonish and the environmental and character animations are not very well done. Though I have to admit that some of the ‘instant kill’ animations are pretty cool. When enemy soldiers duck for cover or change tactics, it happens instantly, with no transitional animation whatsoever. Enemy AI also leaves something to be desired; they seem to have three modes- stand still and shoot, charge, or squat and shoot from cover.
While getting a feel for the game engine, I noticed that shooting things at point blank or at very close range has no effect. It’s as if the bullets aren’t coming out of the barrel of the gun, but rather from somewhere in front of your weapon. The environment is barely effected by weapons of any sort, unless, of course you see a red barrel. You can rest assured that all red barrels will explode violently when you spray a few bullets into them.
I did find one very large flaw in the game while messing around with the Turning Point game engine- I threw a grenade at a chain link fence, hoping to blast it open. All this did was turn the chain link fence from something I could see through into a black wall that I couldn’t see through. And there were enemies on the other side.
Overall, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is sub-par in pretty much every category- the graphics lack detail, AI is weak, controls don’t feel right, and the weapons lack punch. While Turning Point looks like it may potential present puzzles to be solved, this is only speculation. The game has all of the elements in place, but the demo gives no indication that this is going to be the case. With so many weaknesses in such a crowded genre, even online multi-player modes probably can’t save this title from the maw of the bargain bin.