2008 Reviews

Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty

  • Review Date: 2011-11
  • Release Date: 2008-02
  • Developer: Spark Unlimited
  • Rating: 6.5

I recently reviewed Legendary, another 2008 shooter from Spark Unlimited released several months after Turning Point. It was a massively under-rated game, only let down by it's short length and buggy last episode. Thus, coming into Turning Point I was expecting more of the same. At least this game got more average reviews, with a 40% aggregate on gamerankings.com. That's still well below the par with a score not likely to warrant many purchases outside of hardcore shooter gamers - like me.

In many ways Turning Point is the same as Legendary. It does, in fact, deserve a higher score than 40%. It's not as polished or creative as Legendary, understandably so since this was only Spark's second ever game and first for the PC. But it's plays very similarly.

First I'll delve into Turning Point's high hit; the design. Just like Legendary the levels all look good. It starts out epic, and I love epic in my games. In TP's case, you're hundreds of stories high on tiny scaffolding working at the top of a skyscraper when New York becomes under attack. Planes are flying low overhead with buildings falling and carnage all around you as you navigate your way down the skyscraper. Looking down you can see hundreds of little vehicles on the hazy city streets. It all looks fantastic. How can a game start so awesomely, just as Legendary did, yet get such bad reviews?

After fighting through the under-attack New York city, the game visits Washington D.C. and finally London. The tight, twisted levels are very similar to Legendary. Sure, they are very linear - there's no exploration whatsoever. Most of the time it's all very small, with the except of the London Tower Bridge you're in fairly cramped quarters. But the Unreal Engine 3 is put to good use and there's plenty of detail all around you. This isn't the best looking UE3 game, but it's not the worst either.

In fact Medal of Honor: Airborne is probably the most similar gameplay experience to TP. It's the same engine so the two games look very similar. They could easily pass as being all part of the same game. MOH: Airborne has no story. TP at least has some story, although it should have been developed a bit more. They're both very short, around five hours. So then all it can really come down to in MOH: Airborne getting reviews averaging 76% compared to TP's 40% is... gameplay.

Does the gameplay in TP stink THAT much? In short, no it doesn't. It does have it's problems though, namely the weapons. Some of the weapons are great but since 90% of the enemies carry the MP50, that's all you really use throughout the game. Unfortunately, it's a crappy weapon. It's not accurate unless you use the iron sights, but then you can't even see where you're firing. Some of the other weapons are fun, but you don't really use them a lot. Then there's the inconsistency of your weapons all resetting every time you start a new level (of which there are eight). Your default pistol and machine gun are rubbish, so the start of each level is spent playing conservately until you've replenished your MP50 and some other weapon, since you frustratingly only carry two at a time.

The enemies all have your typical budget title A.I. They duck behind objects and that sort of thing, but aren't a huge challenge. I played on normal and only died several times during the game, mostly through being lazy or a grenade surprising me. This isn't a one-man-army style game, you still have to slowly pick enemies off one at a time. But it does take a bit more damage for enemies to kill you than the standard realistic shooter, at least for most of the game. It felt like by the last couple of levels enemies seemed to be dishing out more damage, although they still only had the same weapons.

So the gameplay isn't that bad at all. My only big complaint about TP is the checkpoints. They're sometimes far to distantly placed. You can get through a good ten minutes of gameplay before getting to a checkpoint, which is ridiculous. I felt like if I hadn't reached a checkpoint in a while, I better start playing more meticulously because I don't want to go back ten minutes if I suddenly die. And it did happen a few times. The last level, which really amps the difficulty, is particularly bad where you start out with no ammo, enemies everywhere and you're constantly sprinting to cover trying to stay alive so you don't have to replay it over and over.

Many reviewers criticised that the story was under-developed. TP tells the story of an alternate WWII where Germany has taken over all of Europe and Africa and is now invading America. And sure, the story didn't evolve much. All I knew about my character is that he was a construction worker. There's no other characters in the game you'll get to know. So there is little story development. Does that REALLY matter that much for a developer's very first game on the PC? Cut them some slack! Even Crysis didn't have much of a story.

Wrapping TP up, it wasn't as good as Legendary. The combat and checkpoints needed some work, it needed more than eight levels and five hours of gameplay, the story went nowhere. But I still enjoyed it, and I would play it again!