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Turning Point: Fall of Liberty
MSRP: $59.99
Number of Players: 1-8 (multiplayer via online play)
Developer: Spark
Publisher: Codemasters

Rating:
*1/2
out of
*****

As I've mentioned in other reviews, I am a big World War II buff. When I heard of the alternate history shooter, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, in 2007, I was stoked. The premise of playing as a resistance fighter in a New York City overrun by Nazis seemed too cool to go wrong. That's proof positive that I had fooled myself into ignoring a long history of once-promising concepts turned into less-than-exciting final products.

Turning Point begins with the thought-provoking scenario that poses the question "What if Winston Churchill hadn't been alive to rally the European Allies in WWII?" In his absence, according to Turning Point's chain of events, the Nazis' overtake Europe and eventually begin an assault on the United States.

As Carson, a construction worker, you witness the first aerial assault on New York City from the vantage point of an unfinished skyscraper. Your first mission is to get down to the city streets by navigating the skeleton of the building. And it's precisely at that point that you realize what a travesty Turning Point is about to be.

First person shooters have advanced quite a bit in the last few years, with the Call of Duty series being the pinnacle of the genre. Turning Point aspires to reach the heights of Call of Duty in the concept department but fails miserably in the execution of pretty much everything else.

The control -- while adjustable -- is extremely touchy. Targeting enemies feels more random than anything. Aiming -- done by pressing the L2 button -- is supposed to improve accuracy, but the gun you're using takes up so much screen real estate that you can't really see where you're shooting. Shooting from the hip -- which, in theory, is less-accurate -- is more satisfying because you can see more of what you're expected to hit. Neither method is particularly accurate.

A tacked-on melee combat system does little to improve things when those missed enemy soldiers get close enough to bash you in the face. Pressing the circle button allows you to select a melee attack but the execution is so clumsy, you'll either be killed or shoot your attacker before you know what really happened.

The game's graphics, which appear serviceable in still screenshots, are horribly animated and crippled even further by a low frame rate which makes the game a jerky mess when the screen becomes too crowded with activity. Turning Point could easily pass for a better looking PlayStation 2 game instead of a PlayStation 3 game using the Unreal Engine.

The interesting backstory is wasted as you plod through one uninspired and completely linear level after another. To make matters worse, your objectives are not always clearly defined on-screen. You have to pause the game to read your current objective on many occasions. Not exactly an immersive gaming experience, by any means.

Had the gameplay lived up to even a quarter of the game's premise, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty could have been an average-at-best shooter. Unfortunately, as it is, it's yet another sad example of a game not reaching the potential of its own concept.

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