War: It's good for video games (1 of 2)

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I have been hearing a lot about these new war games lately, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, and Frontlines: Fuel of War. Today, I intend to talk about both.

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty takes a very Command and Conquer “Red Alert” approach to things. It is a “what if” universe, that rewrites history as we know it. The demo opens with a Nazi bombardment of New York City, circa 1940. As you, a construction worker climbing the I-Beams of an finished building, witness the first wave of the attack hit the Statue of Liberty (an ominously threatening act to open a up with) and come ashore with fighter planes, Zeppelins, and paratroopers, you are immediately thrown in to the action.

Without so much as a “ready, set, go” you are off, trying to make your way down the building. Your first encounter with a Nazi soldier is quite simple: press B, then press up on the d-pad. Take him out, and take his gun. Then you can proceed to have fun picking off paratroopers and making your way through New York’s city streets and buildings. That’s… really? That’s about it. The demo just ends in a plume of smoke squeezing its way down the streets, with a visual eerily reminiscent of 9/11 footage.

The demo doesn’t take you very far, and doesn’t really leave you with much of a cliff hanging desire to play more. The combat mechanics are pretty straight forward, nothing too – a big feeling of the first condemned game, when using the d-pad to execute ‘finishing moves.’ The graphics aren’t on par with many of today’s titles, which is a shame, considering it’s using Unreal Engine 3. In fact, it feels like a budget title – like (I hate to say this, because it’s not that bad) King Kong. I certainly don’t see myself spending $60 for it, and this is why I’m a huge proponent of games that take the “value pricing” approach to things… for instance, when Project Sylpheed launched at a realistic $40, instead of $60.

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty has some very interesting story concepts, and has their imagery right. The concept of attacking America, and New York City in particular, is still something that will get under the skin of many. If I were Codemasters, I would do something to play the controversy card: that might sell a few extra copies of the game. The smoke funneling through the streets, bombing of the “Statue of Liberty” – these are powerful, powerful images. The unfortunate problem is the game engine is so basic that these images don’t hit home with the cinematic oomph that they should.

All in all, I want more of the game, more of the alternate universe, more of the feeling that I’m Joe construction worker and I’m America’s last line of defense. But in all honesty? I’m not about to pay $60 for those feelings. It may be a long while before it’s in the bargain bin for $20 or less, so this game is on my “pick it up used” list.

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