gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty – Xbox 360

Turning Point Box Art
Review by Johnus Maximus

Released in March for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is a story driven World War 2 first person shooter.

The game is developed by Spark Unlimited, and published by Codemasters and promises to offer both wartime authenticity and a fresh perspective on the genre. Sadly, it fails.

Imagine now, if you can, a series of remarkable events taking place in the past which changed the outcome of WW2 and ultimately lead to the Nazi invasion of the United States of America. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Well for Dan Carson, an average New York construction worker, this nightmare becomes a reality, and he’s faced with the daunting prospect of single-handedly taking down an immeasurable number of well armed and motivated Nazi soldiers, blowing up the White House and its recently installed Nazi president and as if that’s not enough, he also has to destroy an Atomic bomb before it can be dropped on his home soil!

While this may sound like a fantastic premise for a game, sadly Turning Point fails miserably to deliver a satisfying gaming experience, unless you are willing to lower your standards in regard to what makes a game fun. I never thought I’d see a title that made Two Worlds seem more appealing! Now that may sound quite a harsh judgement to place on a piece of work that some people probably worked really hard on, but (despite a burning desire to lob the disc in the bin) I’ve played this game to completion, and am happy to explain a little bit more about the game and why I think you should avoid it.

The single player campaign mode is the main game mode and despite a promising opening set piece, where the skies of New York are covered in a hail of gun fire as the evil Nazi invasion fleet arrives, the rest of the story feels rushed, with little or no plot or character development to make you feel for the people around you, or care why it is you are doing the tasks you’re faced with doing. Games like Bioshock and Half Life 2 have a lot to answer for, they are prime examples of how a story driven FPS should be, and because of games like these, a gamer expects a lot more than just “hey the evil Nazi’s are here, shoot them and then shoot some more”.

Building a sense of pace and scale into the story might have helped, rather than polarising the story on Dan and his sudden jump from one area to another with no sense of how much time has passed between events. Also, filling in some of the ridiculous plot gaps might have been good, for example a later mission sees you board a small twin engine plane and flying across the ocean to a secret Nazi underground WMD lab in the tower of London (seriously). Considering the supposed technological advancement of the German air forces and their domination of Europe, how in the hell did your character achieve this!!!

Turning Point screenshot
Big bad Berlin blimps bomb Brooklyn…

Graphically, the game doesnt do much to impress, even in high definition the scenery seems flat and dull, there are strange things going on with the shadows; the allied soldiers always seem to have darkened faces and enemies positioned above you can be given away by the fact their shadows appear as if they were right in front of you. A lot of the character animation is jerky, especially when grappling, and the enemies seem to move at a speed that seems inconsistent with the way their bodies are moving.

To talk a little bit more about what you’ll encounter in the game, let me mention the combat. Your first experience of combat in Turning Point is the grapple, as you clamber down a skyscraper to safety the first German soldier you see is just waiting for something bad to happen. You press the grapple button and then select whether to perform an instant kill, or if you prefer, use the environmental kill option to toss him off the side of the skyscraper and laugh as he plummets.

The environmental kill option isn’t always available, but when it is it can provide what I think were one of the few moments of the game that were actually fun. At later stages certain enemies can be killed by smashing their heads through televisions, giving them a fatal toilet swirly or other equally sinister yet amusing methods. Unfortunately, the grapple system as a whole is quite glitchy, you’re able to grab your enemy from quite a distance, but if you get too close the game doesn’t allow you to grapple, instead you find yourself pressing the button and watching Dan get shot a lot.

After the first environmental kill, you get your hands on a weapon, as you proceed through the game there are a variety of guns to use (every Nazi soldier is rationed to half a clip of ammo), but you’ll find that using them requires a little bit of skill and a lot of patience. During the period that the war turned in Adolf’s favour he must have experimented on genetically enhancing his soldiers. The story doesn’t mention this at all, but I found that no matter how well you aim, shooting a German soldier in the twice in the head with a gun, even at close range, will not kill him.

Turning Point screenshot
I don’t think much of the new residents decoration ideas.

The hit detection in this game is woefully poor, except of course, when the enemies are shooting at you. Getting shot or damaged in this game causes your screen to go blurry and the colour to fade, which makes shooting difficult, so it’s best to hide and let Dan’s health regenerate, as like every other regular New York construction worker, he has an innate ability to heal his own wounds. Dying in this game can also infuriate, as the scattering of checkpoints is quite irregular, and sometimes you’ll be repeating large sections of level to much annoyance.

That pretty much sums up the single player mode; if you play it to the end you’ll be glad when it’s all over. If you’re looking for some more action, there are of course varying skill levels, and the Xbox achievements to collect. Or you could try and get a game of multiplayer on the go, try being the main word in that sentence.

The multiplayer options in Turning Point are very limited. You can either play system link, or you can play over Xbox Live. The choice of games is either playing a free for all Deathmatch, or playing a Team Deathmatch. In each of these you choose which of the various character models you want to use, each with varying starting weapons, and you’re able to adapt your situation, as you can reselect which character you are before respawning.

Playing on Live took quite a while, as every time I tried to find a game, the servers were empty. It took about 20 minutes to find a game, and after managing to play two games I turned off my console and sighed, the multiplayer mode was no more enjoyable than the campaign.

So with a wealth of FPS games on the market, and with the massive problems that dog this game, I really have to recommend that you don’t buy it. If you’re desperate to spend your money on something I’d suggest going to you local gaming retailer, closing your eyes, spinning around and randomly selecting a title off the shelf, you’re bound to end up with something far superior to this game.

Friday, April 4th, 2008, Computer Gaming, Xbox 360.