The inevitable review
It seems like for everything that I bash, I always compare it to something that's truly the pinnacle of crap. For example, when I hear awful music, I compare it to "The Suburban Genocide," a god-awful local band (thankfully disbanded) that two of my friends were in. For movies, there's the timeless classic Troll 2. As for games... well, you know how this will end.
"The Turning Point Mentality," "...like Turning Point," "a TURNING POINT." You've heard me use these quotes and more constantly. This is the game I got them from: a game that I have given more of a savage beatdown than any other game in existence... even Monster Madness.
Here is where the hate all began:
WWII shooters. We've played BAZILLIONS of them. Whether it was Medal of Honor: Allied Assault in 2001, or Return to Castle Wolfenstein (same year) that kickstarted the genre, it DIDN'T STOP. Only now in 2010 it's seems to be the end. All the games are the same idea anyway: murder Nazi's and ultimately win the war. Turning Point had a different idea...
If you went to history class in high school, and not go smoke weed in the parking lot, like many (scratch that, ALL) of Doominator's friends, you'll probably remember the name Winston Churchill, the charismatic leader of England during World War II. In real life, he survived getting hit by a taxi and led England to victory over Hitler and company. Turning Point's premise is this: what if he didn't survive?
Simple: The entire world (minus North America) gets it's ass handed to them by the Nazi's. Fast-forward to the early 50's, where the Nazi's aren't content with owning the majority of the world, so they fly their big ass super-blimps to the United States for another hostile takeover.
I like the plot, but there are a few paradoxes. The concept of Europe getting ass-raped by the Germans makes sense, but didn't the jerries get obliterated by the Russians when they tried to takeover them? What about Pearl Harbor, the single event that got the USA in the war? I have to assume that Pearl Harbor never happened, as the Germans got nuclear technology before America, but I don't know. The plot is solid, but people who know their history will find a lot of holes in it.
And speaking of holes, it was only recently that the "brilliant" plot ACTUALLY RIPS OFF ANOTHER GAME: Freedom Fighters, from back in 2003. The only difference was in Freedom Fighters, it was modern day and it was the Russians, as opposed to the 50's and the Nazi's. Oh, and Freedom Fighters had near-perfect controls, AI that wouldn't stand there while getting shot, and an absence of glitches that usually involved soldiers heads getting stuck in ceilings.
The game starts off well enough, even if it drops you into it with little explanation. It outlines the plot (blah blah Winston Churchill got his ass hit by a cab blah blah blah led England to victory blah blah what if he didn't survive blah), then Nazi bombers whizz over New York, blow up the Statue of Liberty (get it, FALL OF LIBERTY? Spark Unlimited, you clever bastards!), then the game begins. You're just some dude who happens to be on a skyscraper. No reason why you're there, but with Nazi's causing chaos and panic everywhere, it's an overlooked question.
We haven't even played the game yet and things aren't looking too good.
First thing you'll notice is the presentation. It's "meh" at best. The Unreal Engine is used to embarrassing effect (Seriously, Epic gives that to ANYONE. Monster Madness and Hour of Victory had it too), presenting textures that take forever to load, or just flat out DON'T, character models that look horrid, and glitches (which we'll touch on later) abound. The orchestral soundtrack is superb though, and it shows they put the big bucks (probably the whole budget) into it. One of the "behind the scenes" videos (yes, I own the collectors edition) shows how they didn't add trumpets to it, since they claimed it's "patriotic," and wouldn't fit the game's tone. Nazi's hate patriotism, if you didn't know that.
Lets talk control next. It's abominable. Your guy turns WAY too slow, and if you can even be bothered to change the sensitivity, he turns so fast it puts games like Quake 4 to shame. The weapons fire acceptable (some of them, like the MP50, are real weapons, but were developed too late in the war to be used) but handle horribly. Plus you can fire while reloading, among other things. Thumbs up for German weapon ingenuity!
The health system is that damned regenerating health thing, but an ass-backwards interpretation. In most games, your screen gets covered in raspberry jam (tell that to the children) so you know when your taking a beating. Here, it fades out to a grayish thing. I suppose it would look like this from your point of view if you were actually shot, but I doubt they tested that. Also the fuzziness screws up some TV's for some reason. My old 19' went apeshit when I was getting shot, but the 32' LCD works just fine. Clever marketing perhaps?
Speaking of getting shot, when you die, you seem to gravitate upwards sometimes, and other times gravitate downwards: like the game decides if you go to Heaven or Hell. I just couldn't figure THAT out.
The game itself is pretty standard in terms of setting. You start in New York, trying to fight back against the Jerries, move to Washington to shoot the Nazi elected President IN THE FACE (which is probably the best part of the entire game), then go to London to stop them from dropping nukes on New York. The game ends so anti-climatically that you won't care any more than you do.
SPOILER ALERT (If you care)
You disarm all the nukes in London but one, which the clever Jerries stored on a uber-blimp heading to NYC. You stow away, but can't disarm it. So it blows up in your face. The one uber-blimp is destroyed but none of the others are. You are dead, and so is Spark Unlimited's reputation.
The Nazi's presumably take over the entire planet, and gradually attempt to make it to the then-planet, Pluto.
Hitler himself commences development on Turning Point 2, which he promises will be the best thing out of Germany since Bratwurst.
I could end it here, with a humorous summary ("a terrific concept has a TURNING POINT that leads to an unholy abomination") but we aren't done yet.
The game is packed with so many glitches is absurd. Characters getting stuck in everything possible (floors, roads, CEILINGS... etc), enemies and AI buddies having staring contests, enemies either oblivious while being shot, or continuing to stand upright after death, weapons getting stuck in walls (or in corpses), random deaths, falling out of the game world, falling into the sky, having half your player stuck in a building, jumping and getting your head lodged in the roof... I think i've said enough. It just BARELY gets beaten by Hour of Victory in terms of stability.
The "play testers" (if they even existed) must have been my aforementioned stoner friends from high school.
That "grapple" mechanic (where you grab dudes and use them as shields or insta-kills in certain areas) is cool but nothing spectacular. It works, at best. At worst, it's as broken as the rest of the game.
Multiplayer is an after-thought. If they made the campaign in a few hours, the multiplayer was done in the span of a lunch break. Only two modes (both deathmatches, one in the team variety) and four maps, with the same game breaking glitches as before (with the "head in ceiling" glitch appearing quite often). There is almost no one on, EVER. If you do find someone, they'll probably just go on a rant about how awful this game was, and how if the Nazi's actually won, we'd see more of them.
Yep. Imagine a world where Turning Point is the new Guitar Hero. Try to sleep with that thought, gamers.
Do I need to talk about the achievements? I guess so, as it's one of two reasons (the other being to mock the game) people play this. You have to beat the game three times, but you can mercifully just replay the last level on different difficulties, kill lots of Nazi's, sprint a lot, and blow up some blimps and such. There are multiplayer achievements too... sigh. One of which requires 2500 kills. Say goodbye to your sanity.
It came out for the PS3 and PC too. But NOBODY bought those. I hope.
I won't forget the first day I bought this game. Last day of grade... 11 I think. SOOOOO PUMPED. Bolted to BlockBuster and saw it for 20$. "YES!" said younger Doominator. Put it home, fired it up, and it froze after the Spark logo. Why did I not destroy it after that sign? I did get rid of it, thankfully, only to buy it AGAIN to polish off achievements. It was the collectors edition too, that comes with a poster of the Nazi's marching in front of the white house. THAT'S going up at the office!
A game broken on truly every aspect, with an interesting plot that ends up ripping off something else, Turning Point is the pinnacle of crappy game design. A game that may be only mocked this much by me, it has been slammed by critics everywhere. Spark Unlimited cannot hope to recover from such a catastrophe (Legendary, anyone?), and the game will forever remain at the top of the buggiest games of all time (alongside Hour of Victory) for decades to come.
Oh, and when my eventual son gets into gaming, I'll make him play THIS as punishment.... actually no. That's child cruelty. I apologize.