There've been a few FPS games over the years - many of these have been set in World War II. Many more still have been crafted with the help of Epic's Unreal Engine. So what's the hook that sets Turning Point: Fall of Liberty apart from its peers? Well, for a start, whilst technically taking place during World War II, this is a World War II quite unlike that seen in any other recent game or any FPS at all for that matter. You see, Winston Churchill, the landmark personality that held together a Britain under siege and helped the people break through to become victorious on the other side, didn't actually survive long enough, in this alternate reality, to do any of that. Instead, the valiant people of Mother England were decimated by a rampaging Nazi scythe that carved up Europe with very little opposition, before setting its sites on the good old Stars 'n Stripes.
And that's where you come in.
Happily working on a construction site at the top of a downtown New York skyscraper, you, Dan Carson, are suddenly in the middle of a war zone - the Germans are attacking! And so it begins. Your first job is to escape - handily your exit path will teach you the basics of control in the world of Turning Point, as you negotiate the collapsing structure just as fast as you dare. This sequence also serves to demonstrate the rather crafty way in which the developer has created an (apparently) open environment with lots of detail beyond which you are currently negotiating; the sense of scale and organic feel of the city is rather craftily achieved. You're actually restricted to a fairly small part of this area but it's done in such a clever way that only a cynical game journalist is likely to notice. This sense of expansive surroundings holds up rather well, for the most part, as you negotiate the rest of the game.
The game proper, much like the initial sequence, is a fairly standard on-rails first person shooter. That is, there's no scope for much exploration (in fact, if you don't go exactly the right way you'll die, with no explanation, leading to occasional frustration as you die-your-way-around the level trying to figure out which direction is the right one) and at key points you'll trigger events like waves of enemies, cutscenes, structures collapsing and other scripted events of that nature.
The controls are a familiar affair, the basics being pretty much exactly as any console FPS player might imagine them to be. Whilst playing the game, the camera will occasionally switch out to third person for no obvious reason (when climbing or descending ladders, that sort of thing), which instead of serving the game by explaining what your character is doing, instead distracts the player and takes them out of the moment. It worked in Chronicles of Riddick, as the player was required to do rather more complicated things in third person – but it doesn't work here and there's unfortunately no obvious way to disable the feature.
Unfortunately, the overall polish on the title can only be described as "a quick buff". That is, if you just glance at the title you'll spot no obvious issues but only a very small amount of gameplay will start to expose them to you. Over the course of the review we encountered numerous serious bugs, including getting stuck on various items in the scenery (causing you to bob up and down for some minutes before the game allows you to move again), having the graphics engine get stuck in the sepia toned distortion which is normally used to indicate you are near death, and countless examples of lesser (but still unnerving) issues such as AI moving around / glitching oddly and stuff of that nature.
Graphically it's a mixed bag - the general set pieces, scenery and level construction is mostly very good but the characters are poor (very like Halo 3, which was very disappointing in this regard), the explosions are terrible and much of the vaunted future tech of the invading Germans doesn't look remotely feasible from an engineering standpoint, nor does it fit in with design trends seen in real German technology of the era.
So - is it any good? Surprisingly, you might think, having read everything written up until now, I actually enjoyed it. Sure it looks a bit crap, has more than a few bugs, only has support for eight players in multiplayer and generally lacks polish across the board, but there's something to be said for playing a familiar game type in a familiar setting in a very unfamiliar context. Seeing collapsed and destroyed American icons (such as the Statue of Liberty or the Chrysler building, which you see in the opening scenes) is very emotive and suddenly you forget that you're essentially killing Nazis again, for the umpteenth time, and just get on with the business of freeing America (and, later, England) from the oppressive yoke of that despicable jumped up Austrian twit in Berlin.
Should you buy it? There's not a lot happening in the world of the First Person Shooter right now - chances are good you've played Call of Duty 4 to death, Rainbow Six Vegas might not be your cup of tea and Halo 3 was last year, so you've got to be over that by now. So sure, if you're into your FPS and are looking for a thrill before the next triple-A title hits and don't mind a little less polish than you've come to expect, why not. Just don't expect anything close to the glory that is those other titles and expect even those low expectations to occasionally be a little north of reality. It's a fun diversion and worth investigating.