Monday, September 07, 2009

Hearts of Iron 3: First Impressions

I got a new game a couple of days ago called Hearts of Iron 3. It is developed by the little known Paradox Interactive (Most famous title, Europa Universalis and, more recently, East India Company). The game is a grand strategy game set in World War 2. You can control one of any (and I mean any) country in World War 2. I have never really played any grand strategy games (except maybe Sins of a Solar Empire, depending on how you classify it) and so I found the scale intimidating. A grand strategy game is a strategy game where you are in charge of every large-scale thing, from managing divisions of troops to diplomacy and espionage without touching the troop to troop control or even squad to squad.

Having to manage hundreds of units across a huge map is challenging but the pace is slow enough that is manageable. However, when you throw in supply lines, production management, technology, diplomacy and espionage, it is very difficult when each screen is confusing and new. It isn't that there is too much to do in the time you've got: at the slowest pace, there is rarely enough; it is simply that it all requires a lot of focus to fully understand what all the sliders, boxes and columns mean and their various effects.

And I am not going to tell you that after two days I find it easy. None the less, the game does a lot to help. All of those screens can be left to an AI. I don't know if it is competent, but it allows me to focus on working out other things. You can even divide up the map and leave control of areas to the AI. Also, to the games credit, by default a lot of your country runs with very little player input so you can just move your troops around if that's what you want. The problem with this is, I just can't really resist playing with everything!

The hierarchy is central to the game, particularly in how you divide control up with the AI and how to manage supplies. This is something I like a lot in games, I like knowing how things break down. However, this game lacks the visual clarity to make it really clear what is going on. There are three levels to it and they require geographical knowledge of your chosen country. Keeping track of all this can be difficult, and isn't helped by the lack of an overview screen, which could help immensely.

The interface has a few other issues and the relentless pop-ups alerting you to everything from irrelevant technologies discoveries, vitally important battle results and various other stuff is overwhelming when you are trying to do something, like control your troops.

I hope I can figure this game out because, due to the sheer amount it models (weather, transport etc.), there should be plenty of opportunities for developing interesting strategies. I have always held a secret belief that I could conquer more than Hitler, so once I figure out stuff, I look forward to my world conquest.

On a side note, if anyone has this game and fancies a multiplayer game, give me a week and then post a comment or something.


  1. thought you were broke??? lol

  2. Well I had a Game voucher from my birthday and my brother paid for some of it because he wanted it to so actually only spent £5 on it!

    On a side note, the speed at which you commented was very impressive.

  3. well i do now check this page every 7 minutes
    its got its own bookmark tab now!!!!!! :-)


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