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Hearts of Iron III PC Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 7.0
Sound 6.0
Value 8.2
Developer: Paradox Interactive
Review Date:
November 2009
Kyle Sudukis
Classification: PG


Hearts of Iron III

Paradox Entertainment once again revisit this popular turn based counter game for the PC in Hearts of Iron III which is set in the turbulent era of World War II. Although this was generally a niche market, Paradox Entertainment have streamlined their latest title, ensuring that even those a little wary of similar games will enjoy this war strategy game. Without alienating long-time fans of the series, the game still contains many of the complexities, however the learning curve for newcomers has been greatly diminished.

At its core, Hearts of Iron III is a professional's strategy game that has successfully transformed these classic board games of yesteryear onto the PC. This is not Command & Conquer but rather the thinking man's game and allows players to change the tides of war from 1936 to 1948 with over 100 nations available to them. To add a spanner into the works, the game is five times larger than the previous titles and the scope of your battles are quite epic.

Once you have selected your nation to play, the gamer can either attempt to defeat the AI or even better, take the game online to challenge a plethora of Hearts of Iron fanatics. Even though you can play the entire campaign for 12-years, gamers also have the choice of picking some of the most memorable and notorious battles from World War II as they attempt to change the tides of war.

Hearts of Iron III is a war game which relies heavily on politics but thankfully this micromanagement feature has been streamlined to prevent the player from getting bogged down. Similar to games such as Civilization, you also need to listen to your advisors, research technology and of course move your troops into battle which is definitely the highlight of the game.

To help with the learning curve the title, several aspects of the game can be set to auto-pilot such as Diplomacy or Fighting and is a nifty idea to allow players to focus on their strengths or weaknesses to practice. It's a great little feature that works on many levels of play and thankfully the AI is quite smart.

Similar to previous games, spying and diplomacy play a large role in this game and is great for making allies or getting insider knowledge on your allies and foes. Ordering your troops has also received a slight makeover which features stronger AI for your troops, ensuring that they follow your orders but also have enough leeway that almost at times makes you believe they are thinking for themselves.

The technology in the game is quite riveting and researching the various facets of your nation is quite impressive but best of all, each nation has their pros and cons which goes along way on how some of your battles will proceed. The best part for me, was playing the campaign from start to finish and basically changing the outcome of the war for the British. Quite cool indeed.

Of course all this power and choices come at a cost and the menu system of Hearts of Iron III is still quite convoluted and does distract you from the main game at times, especially if you've taken a few days or a week off, you need to retrain yourself where everything is. As this is made by Europeans, we did notice a few typos throughout the text in the game which is a little shame but hopefully the patches will address this in the future.

Graphically, the game mimics the counter world of gaming quite well , however it does feature some 3D graphics as well and when there are too many units on screen at once, this did cause some slowdowns. Of course for a game such as this, sound generally takes a back seat which is the case for Hearts of Iron III, however the ambient music does suit the game quite well.

Final Thoughts?

It's good to see Paradox Interactive revamp their franchise by allowing even the novice of strategy players be able to pick up the game and start playing within a couple of hours successfully. If you're looking for true control and almost an unlimited war-game scope, than Hearts of Iron III is your game, however it would have been nice if some of the bugs were fixed before the release. Even so, this is one truly engaging game from start to finish!



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