April 19, 2007 - "You're just an ordinary guy trying to survive." So says Dean Martinetti, producer at Sparks Unlimited, after demoing the opening scene in Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, in which a flat-capped builder becomes the unlikely hero of the US resistance. However, there's nothing ordinary about what we've just seen, because the streets of New York - its tower blocks and famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty - are engulfed in flame and are being unceremoniously razed to the ground by an invading German force. Nationalist flag-waving this ain't - well, not unless you're a Nazi - and contrary to Call of Duty and Medal of Honor et al, there's no heroic leader to save the world and the US doesn't win.
Enemy fighters scream between buildings as you make your descent.
Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is a departure from the traditional war-torn first-person shooter because it takes a genre that's been milked of all creativity and breathes new life into it. Sure, you use guns to mow down Nazis and the action rarely shifts out of fifth gear, but there's a lot that's different about Turning Point. Take the story: In 1931 Winston Churchill is hit by a taxi, an event that actually happening all those years ago. Only, in the game, the accident was fatal, so there's no Churchill to deliver that speech and no leader to inspire the troops to victory. Instead the Nazi force overthrew the British, pushing our boys out of France and seizing control of Europe. Eight years later and the Germans have amounted a vast army which is sent across the Atlantic, ready to take over the US.
So begins the game, with you balanced precariously on a narrow steel girder on top of a skyscraper that's halfway through construction. Peering around, the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building dominate the skyline to the left, but to the right is a sight that's much more terrifying. German battleships sit ominously in New York Bay, bombarding the city with long-range shellfire, while overhead the skies are dark with enemy aircraft. Giant zeppelins drift slowly closer, ready to unload armies of Nazi troops, and Messerschmitt fighters scream between the buildings, dropping bombs and tearing up the streets with cannon-fire. It's total and utter chaos and you're right in the middle of it all.
With the building you're standing on under attack, it's time for a quick getaway, along the girders to relative safety on the streets below. As you edge along walkway parts of the building collapse, casting fellow workers to their death. It's a fate that could easily become yours - if you're not careful it's all too easily to slip off the edge.
Many of the vehicles are based on real-life blueprints.
Negotiating the metal maze is far from easy and it's stiff challenge for an opening scene in a game, but it sets the tempo of Turning Point superbly and the action - certainly from the scenes we've seen - never slows. For example, after shimmying along a few ledges and sliding down a couple of ladders, you encounter your first German. Having landed on sky-bridge, he's struggling to cut lose the parachute he drifting down on. Good job too, because he's carrying a machinegun and you've got… well, nothing, apart from your fists. A few punches are enough to dispatch him, but there are other options open to you too. You could throw him off the bridge - one of Turning Points many environmental kills - or you could grab his gun and use it to whack him in the face. Either way you get your first weapon in the game, which is handy because a whole load more Nazis are about to turn up.