Mama always told you to look both ways before you cross the street. But if you've ever wondered why, consider this: one day, while crossing a New York City street in 1931, Winston Churchill must not have looked both ways, because he got hit by a cab. He lived, of course, but what if he hadn't? Ask some historians, and they'd tell you that had Churchill died that day, the United States might not have gotten involved in World War II.
Such is the premise of the upcoming World War II first-person shooter Turning Point: Fall of Liberty from developer Spark Interactive and publisher Codemasters. In it, Churchill doesn't survive his run-in with a taxi, so the United States stays out of the war, and after the Germans take over all of Europe, they launch a sneak attack on, ironically, New York City -- which is where our story begins. Though according to Dean Martinetti, the game's producer, that isn't where it ends.
Crispy Gamer: The game's story is obviously influenced by a 'What If?' scenario, but what about the gameplay; how big of an influence were similar alt-history games such as Resistance: Fall of Man and War Front: Turning Point on your game?
Dean Martinetti: We were not inspired by any of those games you mention, no offense to them. They are good in their own right, but I'd say we are more in line with Freedom Fighters from IO interactive or Chronicles of Riddick from Starbreeze than anything else.
Crispy Gamer: How about in terms of the art; does the game, like every other WWII FPS, look like Saving Private Ryan, or did you go in a different direction?
Martinetti: We went in a different direction. We looked at The Pianist, a great flick; we looked at older movies from the '50s and '60s; and we also looked at a lot of paintings that are reminiscent of the Rockwell style of art. The idea was to bring something fresh in terms of the look, and I think we did that well in some places.
Crispy Gamer: What are some of the missions -- both in terms of story and gameplay mechanics -- on which you go in the game?
Martinetti: I wouldn't really call them missions. To me, they were always just situations that were presented to you. You play as Dan Carson, who is a construction worker in NYC, not some soldier looking get involved with all this. He just wants to survive, but there are all these obstacles in his way that he must pass in order to get out of NYC and to safe haven. Along the way he meets others just like him, and he starts to realize that perhaps there are things more important than his own safety -- like freedom, just to name one.
Crispy Gamer: Does the issue of concentration camps come up in the game at all?
Martinetti: No, we stayed off that.
Crispy Gamer: Why did you decide to go with an average Joe instead of Pvt. one, and what effect did it have on the gameplay?
Martinetti: It was a personal preference when I came onboard at Spark. Originally, he was a taxi driver who was an ex-spy. I wanted nothing to do with that. It was such a clich&eacure;d videogame persona that I begged and bribed everyone I could to change it. In the end they humored me, so we got lucky. I think if they didn't see my way, they would have kept him the way he was, but thankfully I made a good case.
As for the gameplay, the only effect it had was it made him more vulnerable and personable -- you can identify with him, which I think is a nice touch.
Crispy Gamer: Now while the game is predominantly a first-person shooter, it does employ some other gameplay mechanics like grappling and climbing. What others did you include and why did you feel it was necessary to add them to this game?
Martinetti: Well, the ones you mentioned are the ones that stand out the most. Again, we wanted to do something different, something that would connect you to the character a bit more. As I said, our guy is an everyday guy. If he gets into a fight, he doesn't do a flying dragon punch or some Navy SEALs move that takes out an enemy all quiet-like. He's more of a street fighter, and that is where our grapple comes into play. It's derived off of Crave Maga [an Israeli martial arts discipline], which is considered by some to be close to street fighting. As for climbing and mantling objects -- well, that's a no brainer to me. NYC has a lot of alleys and side streets, and tall and short buildings. If you are trying to remain unnoticed, you don't hit the streets and walk down the main boulevard. You hit the back roads, the alleys and what not, and sometimes it may require climbing or mantling.
Crispy Gamer: Besides these additions, how else do you think Turning Point distinguishes itself from other World War II first-person shooters?
Martinetti: Really, it's in the simplicity of it all. We've said time and time again that this is the casual gamer's shooter. A lot of focus testing was done to make sure that casual as well as hardcore gamers could get into the game. It's real easy to pick up and go, which is nice. Now, will we make everyone happy? Probably not, but I am okay with that, and I think the team is, as well. We want you to escape from your real-world issues and take out your frustration on the enemies in our game. We really hope people connect with that.
Crispy Gamer: But if you had to say, which WWII FPS do you think Turning Point most plays like?
Martinetti: Damn, we are all connected somehow, so if I had to, I'd probably compare the fundamentals to all of them.
Crispy Gamer: So what are the multiplayer modes going to be, and how many maps there be will be at launch?
Martinetti: We're not really talking about multiplayer yet, but I can say that we'll have two modes and four maps that come with the game. It's up to Codemasters if we add more or not. I'd love to do downloadable content that was episodic and connected the first game to a sequel, like the stories that happen in between -- maybe some new stories that show the background of some of the main characters; maybe go back in time to when Carson was a kid and have some adventures within that history, as well. It's really open to a million different venues. As with anything in our industry, it all comes down to consumer wants and needs.
Crispy Gamer: You mentioned a sequel. Does that mean you already know what it will be?
Martinetti: Well, it's all up to the consumer, ultimately. If they like what we did, then cool, we will give it another shot and do more of what we feel will grow the franchise. I just want the gamer to enjoy the experience. We all do at Spark. All of us are gamers, our wives and girlfriends are gamers, our boyfriends and husbands are gamers...so in the end we just want you to have fun, and we really try to drive that home.
But, to answer your question, yes, we have many, many ideas that we are really confident the public would eat up.