ACHTUNG! Real-Time Strategy gamers! Paradox Interactive is coming out with their latest creation from their World War II strategy series, Hearts of Iron. It has been three years since the release of Hearts of Iron II and its two expansion packs, Doomsday and Doomsday Armaggedon. As an avid strategy and war gamer, I only discovered this game in early 2008 on one of the bargain PC game shelves. When I actually sat down to play this game, I instantly fell in love with the series.
What Hearts of Iron veterans would immediately notice when playing the game is the newly revamped 3-D World Map, which really overshadows the 2-D world map from the second Hearts of Iron. The new world map has over 10000 provinces as opposed to the 2000 plus provinces in the second game, making it almost a herculean task to conquer everything in the world. In addition, the newly redesigned world map has actual terrain indicators such as forests and hills and urban centers rather than color-coding representations as was the case in the second game.
Hearts of Iron 3 continues the traditions that had been established and improved upon by its predecessors. Although the third installment retains the crucial basic elements central to the game, Paradox was able to expand upon them by creating a wider range of possibilities within each aspect of the game. For instance, when producing new units in the production section of the game, players are able to assemble their own templates dictating the type of brigades that would be included in a division.
Also, Paradox increased the depth of the diplomatic aspect of the game. Players are still able to change ministers in their country’s government. In addition, the game also allows you to change laws to either tighten the government’s hold on the country or weaken its policy. Each law would have different consequences from public order to economic production. Another notable change is within the Intelligence section such as the options in domestic and foreign espionage. Hearts of Iron 3 has a new assortment of missions especially with regards to domestic espionage. For example, spies now have the option of persuading citizens to support the ruling party, which increases national unity. The section also allows you to set priority targets based on a threat level system. The greater threat the other country poses, the higher the priority of sending spies to that country.
For those of you that have played Europa Universalis III or other games within that series, you will also notice the familiar customization format in the Custom Game screen, which Paradox utilizes to make the game more appealing to a wider range of players familiar to Paradox’s other titles. Within this Custom Game option, players can select different time periods to begin play starting from 1936, which remains the same as its predecessors. This would allow players new to the game to get their bearings and not be overwhelmed by war when you are struggling to get your economy going. Naturally, players would also still be able to choose the country they would like to play. However, if you are new to the game, it would not be wise to jump right into the game as China or Japan since war comes to those countries rather early.
The combat system is still the same for the most part. However, the impression I got was the fact that it was really similar to Europa Universalis III. The animation, although not an important feature, is an aesthetic improvement from the second game. The combat modifier system still influences battle outcomes as it has in the other Hearts of Iron games. Even I am still learning how to judge the conditions that would be favorable for victory and I have been playing for a year and a half!
Hearts of Iron 3 is definitely a Real Time Strategy game of epic proportions. Although the basic concepts of the game remain the same, Paradox has made a great effort to include a large array of features that are unique and further the already endless amount of possibilities, which accommodates the playing style of anyone. My hope is that more strategy fans pick up this game and really give it a play-through. It is definitely worth the game time solely because of the amount of content that it contains. Paradox strategy game fans will doubtlessly be impressed with this next title.
Conquer the world at your own risk or not. The choice is up to you. Stay tuned for our full review!
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Hearts of Iron 3
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: August 7, 2009 (US), September 24, 2009 (Australia), Q3 2009 (UK)
Genre: Real-Time Grand Strategy