In 1931, Winston Churchill was visiting New York City when he was almost killed by a taxi while crossing Fifth Avenue. Codemaster’s new videogame “Turning Point: Fall of Liberty” imagines the alternate scenario, which results in Nazis overrunning Europe and setting their sights on the U.S. It’s a fascinating nightmare scenario and is pretty much all that “Turning Point,” a glitchy title that’s mediocre on nearly every level, has going for it. Sales will likely be as weak as Neville Chamberlain’s nerve.
Game starts with a bang in 1953 as construction worker Dan Carson looks across New York harbor from the top of an unfinished skyscraper and sees a barrage of Luftwaffe fighter planes and Zeppelins attacking the city. The sounds of bombs exploding and planes whizzing by are thrilling, as is the cinematic score by Oscar-nominated composer Michael Giacchino (“Ratatouille”), which is easily “Turning Point’s” highlight. Unfortunately once Carson, the game’s protagonist, escapes from the construction site to partake in the underground resistance, it is all downhill the rest of the way.
Frequently beset by glitches, “Turning Point” has the look and feel of an unfinished project. Having to restart a game when it freezes up in the middle of the action isn’t exactly an engrossing experience. The artificial intelligence is particularly weak, as fellow resistance fighters can block Carson’s entrance to a doorway and Nazis sometimes fire at ghosts rather than the people trying to kill them.
“Turning Point” takes place in three main areas — New York, Washington, and London — all of which are severely lacking in detail. Other than picking up guns and grenades, there’s little reason or opportunity to explore.
Characters and plot are similarly underdeveloped. What’s Carson doing in DC? Who is the general he’s supposed to save before blowing up the White House? The objectives simply don’t connect to each other enough to make a coherent plotline.
That’s a particular shame since the action has some good points. There are a variety of cool new weapons, based on the theory that Germans were able to develop advanced post-war weapons, along with impressive environmental kills and grappling moves. Those looking for a vicarious historical thrill will particularly enjoy the ability to use Nazis as human shields. The high intensity action, however, is hampered by infrequent check points and an aiming reticule that, no matter what setting the player chooses, is either too slow or too imprecise.
Online multi-player is very basic, allowing just eight people to play standard kill-or-be-killed games on four different maps.