What it feels like to lose World War II
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Audiences are capable of wringing enjoyment from even the shabbiest films. Viewed with a little ironic detachment, Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space might even deserve a gold statue for its comedic brilliance. Amateurish acting and shoddy production values can be comfortably laughed at from a safe remove. But games are more problematic when it comes to kitsch because the player inevitably gets tangled in the mess.
Turning Point: Fall of Liberty starts with an interesting enough premise. What if Winston Churchill hadn’t survived the New York traffic accident that earned him two weeks of bed rest in the Waldorf-Astoria? The answer, this game posits, is a German invasion of Manhattan where—as a construction worker atop a half-finished skyscraper—the player helplessly looks on as Messerschmidts strafe Broadway. This pulpy adventure setting feels promising at first, especially when a New York wise guy passes the player a Tommy Gun on the subway. But such moments of blue-collar bravado are few and far between.
As the game drags on, attempts at narrative fly out the window, leaving the player to make sense of the episodic conflict and stomach its drudgery. If there’s one thing that the countless games set during World War II have accomplished, it’s the ability to effectively simulate the experience of being in the trenches. Turning Point never immerses; it merely occupies. The raid and subsequent demolition of an occupied White House ought to feel like a show-stopping set piece, but the game’s pace limps along by stringing together tedious gunfights. To make matters worse, sparsely distributed checkpoints force players to replay long stretches of an already tiresome affair. There’s nothing funny about the comedy of errors that is Turning Point: Fall of Liberty. Cease fire. We surrender.