The graphics aren’t the only thing that feels dated. The AI, both for your Nazi enemies and the few allies you’ll find fighting with you, is horrid. Once again, the classic ‘duck-shoot-duck’ and ‘walk out into the line of fire’ manoeuvres seem to have been taught in Nazi military school, and it’s rare to find a group of hostile troops that can mount even a half-decent challenge in small numbers. At several points I actually witnessed my dim-witted opponents throwing grenades then running over them themselves – which at least saved me the bother of slaughtering them.
Combine this with remarkably uninspired level design – imagine Call of Duty 2 with more corridors and fewer large-scale set pieces – and you have a game where the action rarely takes off. There are exceptions, like a full-on assault on the Nazi occupied White House or the very beginning of a daring raid on the Tower of London (the rest of the level soon returns to the normal bog-standard) but these don’t crop up very often. In fact, the only way Turning Point seems able to ratchet up the tension – and the difficulty – is by either throwing in huge numbers of heavily armed Germans at various choke points or by spacing the checkpoints wider and wider apart. Once the game starts to combine both approaches, a mildly engaging experience turns into an occasionally exasperating one. Perhaps we should be glad that it makes you feel anything at all.
OK, so I’m being mean. Spark has managed to cram a few cool ideas in there. The best thing is the close-in grappling system. Get up close to a Nazi and press the B button and you can grapple with them, choosing options from the D-pad to either quickly eliminate Jerry or use him as a human shield – handy when you still have several of his mates to do away with. In some circumstances you can opt for an environmental kill, pushing Fritz into a waiting furnace or head-first into his TV set. There are also some attempts to give the game a human element, as you save citizens from Nazi brutality or come across people hiding frightened in the attic, but we’re not talking Half-Life 2 levels of poignancy here.
And that’s nothing compared to all the nonsense I haven’t even covered yet. It’s one thing to make a game full of moments where you have to climb ladders, dangle from bars or clamber over boxes or dumpsters, but why have it so that you first have to press a button then endure the agonising wait while the view changes to third-person and your hero goes through his animation. It’s just enough time for the local Nazi sniper to line up a shot and send you packing back to the checkpoint reload screen.