Turning Point: Fall of Liberty Impressions
Churchill has died and the Nazis are winning in this alternative World War II shooter. We see if it has the chops to compete with the heavyweights of the genre.
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There have been so many World War II games over the past few years that it's no surprise to see both developers and gamers craving something new. Spark Unlimited, a development studio based in the US on the West Coast, has reimagined the Second World War with Winston Churchill's death leading to the Nazis winning the fight. The German army has progressed to the East Coast of the US, invading both New York and Washington DC, while the resistance makes a last-ditch attempt to fend them off in the surrounding waters and skies. We recently got a chance to watch the game in action.
The game begins in 1952 in New York. After viewing an introductory movie showing zeppelins and planes fighting it out above the city, you're dropped right into the action. You play as Dan Carter, an ordinary engineer who's caught at the top of a skyscraper as the city begins to fall all around him. As well as the sky-level action, tall buildings emphasise the drop below, and you can just about see vehicles and people scurrying out of the city down at street level. The only option is to try to make it down from the half-built structure.
This first section of Turning Point serves not only to highlight the difference between it and other World War II-based shooters, but also to provide a bombastic introduction to some of the game's mechanics. You soon get acquainted with a series of challenges and quick-time events, ranging from pulling yourself up if you fall off a girder to taking out enemy soldiers with melee attacks. Turning Point is presented from a first-person viewpoint for the most part, but zoomed-out sections let you see your character taking on the soldiers of the Third Reich.
The grapple system plays a large part in Turning Point's combat, and it adapts to environmental details such as walls, windows, and drops. You meet your first German enemy as you're heading down from the tall building, and as you approach him from behind you're given the choice to enter the grapple mode. As you are completely unarmed, it's the only option you have, so the camera zooms out to show you tussling with your enemy. The options on the D pad allow you to simply punch or head-butt the man, but because you're close to the edge of the building you can also throw him over. In other situations you could throw him through a window or smash him up against a wall--it all depends on the objects that surround you.
The demonstration we saw was on pre-alpha Xbox 360 code, but even at this stage the graphics are detailed and polished and run at a smooth frame rate. As your character heads down towards street level, the initial feeling of space turns to one of claustrophobia, and it's impressive to see the engine mix huge expanses and small streets within the first few minutes. After the New York level, we're promised a move on to Washington DC and the Nazi-occupied White House. Unfortunately we didn't get to see this level, and the Codemasters representative was reticent about revealing any of the other locations featured in the game.
While Turning Point's premise is certainly original, many of its gameplay dynamics will be familiar to genre stalwarts. Incoming attacks are indicated onscreen with red bars pointing in the direction of fire, and your health regenerates if you take cover. You can carry only one weapon at a time, but enemies drop weapons for you to use after they're killed. The story hints that the German success has been a result of its technological advancements, so while some of the weaponry will be from World War II, other weapons have been modified in line with the Nazi research that was happening at the time. There won't be any science-fiction-style energy weapons, but we're promised some subtle alterations to the familiar sidearms of the time.
We got to see only about 10 minutes from Turning Point's opening level, but it looks set to combine a novel retelling of World War II with exciting gameplay. Far removed from the trenches and fields of traditional wargames, the urban environment we saw feels like a fresh approach to the genre, helped in no small part by the impressive graphical capabilities of the PC and consoles. in question We hope to have more for you on Turning Point before it lands on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in winter, so keep an eye on GameSpot for more details as we get them.