Published By: Paradox Interactive
Developed By: Paradox Interactive
NA: August 7, 2009
Not much is known by many of Hearts of Iron 3, let alone Hearts of Iron 2 or even the first game. It's not a common name that people have heard of, it's not as renown as Axis and Allies or any other large scale strategy game. Which is unfortunate, because this game stands out in so many ways when compared to the other well known titles.
Although this could be to several facts which makes the game daunting to play. First would be the incredible complexity of the game which I will go into detail a bit further on in the review. Another could be the immense size of the players responsibility. Lastly would be the amount of time spent learning the game due to a completely terrible and lackluster tutorial. These things alone could prevent people from sharing this game with others due to their inability to get into and enjoy the game for a gem that it is.
The game itself deals with the events surrounding the second world war. First, to start the game, you may choose any country in the world that was around during the start of the game 1936. After you choose your country you are given several options that most people wouldn't see due to them being not in plain sight and seeming insignificant, but they are far from it. These options determine User or AI control for several of your countries key proceedures such as trade, politics, army, intelligence and research.
The basic view of your Country and the Interface.
With your final selections made and you press play, you're launched into a completely overwhelming and very vast world. Generally you start off staring at your borders and all of your current troop locations denoted by standard UN APP-6A Counter Icons. With a simple UI at the top that doesn't get in the way and tells you everything you need to know about your countries Industrial Capacity (IC in game.) along with several other key helpful tidbits.
Now this is where the complexity of the game comes into play. You must now (assuming you did nothing to ask for AI assistance) control every single function of your country. You must set up trading agreements to make money, or to aquire resources like Crude Oil, Energy (coal), Rare Materials (Rubber, Urainium that sort of stuff), Metal or Supplies. Have a negative draw on your resources can quickly end poorly for you if you do not aquire a positive, or atleast a neutral amount of reources used each day. On top of that, you're in control of constructing Air Bases, Land Forts, Costal Forts, Industry, Infastructure, Radar stations, Rocket Test facilities, Nuclear plants, Anti Aircraft guns which all have their own unique and useful purposes. Aswell as controling those already hefty tasks, you are also capable of appointing ministers in your cabinet which give different bonuses for each person or even penalties. You're capable of controling the basic laws for your country, although almost all have requirements for them to be able to use them in which almost every case you need to be at war. However it makes sense. Next you have Intelligence, where you control who you spy on, what the spies you have in each nation do, from learning about a nations military might, to their economic trades, to disrupting a nations research and supporting partisan groups in the nation. You also control the spies in your own nation and what they do, be it counter espionage, raising your nations unity and the like. Lastly, is the research area, where you devote the intelligence of your nation to a mixture of A) Research Training spies C) Gaining diplomatic influence (Used to send trades, embargo's, request alliances, influence a nation to join a faction ect.) and D) Training Officers for your Armies.
There's still more that I haven't mentioned if you are expecting that to be only what you're required to do when ruling a nation. There's still more, however I would be here all day explaing the finer points of this games responsibilitys the player has if that were the case.
The Intelligence tab and the interesting things you can find out about everyone including what they are cooking for dinner in some obscure place of the world.
Now what truely makes this game interesting apart from controling ever facet of a nation, is your chance to shape history. In one of my playthroughs (Which still isn't done) I am playing as Canada. I am aligning myself with the Soviet Union and turning Canada into a Communist state. Which is one of the really fun things you're capable of doing in this game. Ever wanted the USA to join the Axis instead of the Allies? Or even become Communist and unite with Russia? This is all possible, and your country can be influenced by foriegn nations without you wanting to be. As in my playthrough, Japan is currently spending diplomatic influence to move Canada away from joining the Communist states.
Now, while the game is capable of such interesting and neat changes to history, the basis of it stays relatively the same. Some time near the middle to end of 1938 to early or mid 1939 Germany will invade Poland and start a war with the Allies, unless ofcourse you do something to change this.
Show the enemy what your cannon fodder is made of!
The obvious point of this game is war. There's no getting around that, there's no pussy-footing. It's about WW2 and no matter what, some sort of war will happen sooner or later. To wage war one needs an army. Well, almost every country starts off with a decent enough number of troops. This is where the game gets more complex again. While a nation like Russia may have several theaters of operation such as STAVKA, Far East (China-Japan-Korea region), Stalingrad (Turkey, Black Sea area), Arkhangelsk (Upper Finland/Norway and Artic Ocean) and the Leningrad theater (Latvia, Estonia and lower Finland). Now this means you have alot of divisions at your disposal and by lord do you ever. Sometimes it gets so confusing during the heat of battle because the game is filled with small provinces from which armies and construction are located. This means that you can create a small pocket and exploit that, or you can use a sweeping pincer. The tactical posibilities from having so many of these provinces rather then a 500 square KM plot of land labeled "London" is massive compared to other large scale tactical games. However, you do not get to go into the battles and control each individual soldier like in those other tactical games. You only get to watch the progress of fights over territories, which is very complex in itself. The terrain, time of year, time of day, wind and atleast a dozen other different effects determine how effective your attacking or defending force is, and who will win because of it. For example, you're using a new inexperienced mountain infantry unit in the mountains against a very very experienced motorized or mechanical infantry force. The mountain infantry will hands down win because of the terrain advantage.
France is ready for the war this time.
Now, while this game is monsterously big in the things you can do and control, that is where the game loses some points for over complication. While it is great, you can get so bogged down with the little things. Especially with the games horrible tutorial. The game is really hard to learn, and most of it you have to learn, or ask about yourself as the tutorial while quite funny leaves way to many questions. It doesn't even tell you how to create an army, how to link divisions to HQs and link those HQ's to higher up HQ's ect. The game really does lack in that respect. Atleast, to counter balance this, the game seems almost completely bug free which is rather surprising considering.
Now, for the sound, well. There's not a whole lot to be said about the sound. You get some button click sounds if you zoom in really close to the fighting you hear a few automatic gun sounds with small explosions in the backround. Nothing special. The music, well that's nothing special either, unless you like to hear 4 classical songs looped every hour. Although the Ride of the Valkyries is very epic music for the loading screen. The good thing about the game is you can mute the music and play your own music in the backround and as long as your music isn't so loud it drowns out the button clicks or pop up "pings" for important things you'll be just fine using your own music playing before you launch the game as there is no speaking in the game at all.
Well, there's alot of good to be said about this game. A whole damn lot, with the thousands of avenues one can take as any of the 40 odd nations playable in the game. However, do to the slightly awkward and overly complex nature of the game you can be frustrated easily by the amount of things you have to do and the AI controlled parts. Well, I still haven't figured out how to tell it to do certain things unless you have it completely player controlled and maybe you can't, but the game wont tell you that. Which brings me to the next part which is the aweful tutorial that just dips your toes in the planet covered completely in water that is Hearts of Iron 3. I think however these minor things can be over looked with some guiding hands from the Hearts of Iron community on Paradox Interactive's forums and a little trial and error from yourself.
Looks solid, and rather professional.
It could have been made in 1998 and you wouldn't have known, not that this is a bad thing. The focus isn't on Graphics however.
Rather patheric sound score, but it's not here to awe and inspire you with great music as you reach pivitol points in the game, because it is not scripted to happen the same way every time.
A rather mixed bag of nuts. On the one hand it's great, deep and immersive. Everything you want in a strategy game. On the other hand, it's overly complex and very hard to learn.
Lasting Appeal 100%
This game, could potentially last forever and you would never have the same match twice, and a feature for online play makes this game that much more interesting.
The better parts of this game way outweigh the bad in my opinion. This game is a master piece, and my GOTY hands down so far.
How was my first review? Appart from any spelling/gramatical errors?