Turning Point: Fall of Liberty
For all the unspeakable horrors it brought, World War II did one thing right - a black-and-white, Good vs Evil setup, ripe for later generations to refer back to in morally ambiguous times. The trouble is that it all took place in '40s Europe and it all gets a bit samey after a while. Endless muddy fields, trenches, farmhouses, bombed out villages and a bit where you're in a castle's twisty staircase.
What World War II needs is a breath of fictitious fresh air. Presumably that's the thinking behind Turning Point, which has the audacity to bump off our lovely Mr Churchill back in 1931, leaving him unable to fulfil his destiny as Britain's go-to man for upbeat speeches. As a result, Hitler and his platoon of bumbling buffoons do considerably better in their little war and pluck up the courage to have a pop at The Good 01' US of A.
That's the last straw for Dan Carson, a New York construction worker who's trying to do a spot of hammering on the 13th floor when the Third Reich turns up. After making his escape, he gets involved in the American Resistance movement and guickly finds himself with all manner of hopes - if not medals - pinned on him. There might be more qualified people to push out of a plane above London on a top-secret mission. But if there's one thing FPS games have taught us, it's that the might of a nation is nothing compared to a quiet bloke.
The whole thing is an interesting premise, which makes it such a shame that it's so poorly executed. The idea of running round Nazi-occupied '50s Manhattan ducking behind yellow taxis and watching Zeppelins loom overhead should be amazing, but Turning Point has turned the concept into a dull slog, making the whole thing as appealing as a naked Heinrich Himmler, bent double and smothered in wasps.
As you trudge from location to location, from set piece to set piece it suddenly dawns that there are no bones whatsoever underneath all this fighting meat. There's no characterisation or gripping plot to get your teeth into, so Turning Points amazing setup becomes a masterclass in how not to tell a story. We know nothing whatsoever about Carson, who he is or why he's doing what he's doing. The only reason I even know his name is because I looked it up in the manual. The intrinsic lack of a fulfilling, satirical, deep or life-changing storyline is Turning Points biggest failure and it's a massive shame.
Instead, what we have is a bog-standard, linear FPS with no surprising, interesting, clever or unique elements whatsoever. Turning Point does what it does, and it never pushes the boat out. In this day and age, that's travesty enough, but when a title has such massive potential, as this game does, it stings all the more.
One of the game's only promising gameplay additions is the ability to scuffle with a Nazi. If you can get close enough and grab them, you can either turn them into a fairly useless human shield, or beat them silly with your big monkey fists. While the fistfights themselves are relatively varied and superbly dramatic, the real joy is in the occasional 'environmental' kill - a custom animation that plays depending on context -which sees you trapping some poor chap's bonce under a truck or locking him inside a burning furnace. They're little moments of preposterous joy in an otherwise repetitive world of wave-after-wave shooting.
Talking of which, there's nothing more annoying than an ambiguous death - which is presumably why dead alternative-history Nazis get catapulted 12ft away by the hopelessly over-eager physics engine, while their newly-liberated weapon is slung an equally absurd distance in the opposite direction. Each time it happens, this is a farcical sight, which will never fail to delight the simpleton in you.
Turning Point isn't a complete disaster, after all there are some nice touches - such as the more injured you are, the more monochrome the screen becomes - and it's a fairly entertaining old romp through unexplored territory. Also, the soundtrack's written by the guy who did the music for Lost, and is an impressive mish-mash of the themes from Star Wars and Aliens, while the ending is surprisingly exciting. That said there's no way I could, as a human being with a conscience, ever recommend that anyone spends any money on Turning Point, let alone 35 smackers. But, if you happen to find yourself walking past a bin in the street, and there's a copy poking out of the top, then it's worth fishing out. While you're there, you might as well give that can of Tennent's Super a little shake to see if there's a wee drop left in the bottom. Today could be your lucky day.
Finding yourself in a bind
Sometimes, it's just impossible to walk away...
Turning Point is clearly a console game at heart and an occasionally sloppy port.
The most unforgivable fly in the ointment being that arming a bomb requires you to press R, G, B or Y, each corresponding to a red, green, blue or yellow wire. Sadly, I'd bound walk backwards to B, which meant I was unable to arm the bomb until I'd quit to the main menu and changed the binding. Not only does it break the relatively shallow immersion, it also meant I was unable to step away from the imminently exploding bomb with my usual level of exquisitely professional finesse.
Download Turning Point: Fall of Liberty
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