Hearts of Iron III is an excellent game. It allows the player to control any nation in the lead-up to WW2, or during it if you prefer. These range from Nazi Germany, of course, to the Dominican Republic, which gives you an idea of the level of choice on offer. The game essentially drops you into the world as head-of-state of one of these many nations, and it's entirely up to you what to do from there: will you align with the Axis in Europe to gain your share of the economic gains in the upcoming war? Or will you side with Stalin's Russia and work to undermine Fascism and the Allies, in an attempt to dominate the world with Communism?
However, the level of historical accuracy in HOI3 is astounding, despite the player's ability to make independent and alternate choices. For example, there is a system of "decisions" in the game which often provide some sort of benefit, one of which is the historical Anschluss of Austria for Germany. As well as this, there are literally thousands of officers, with their own traits and skill levels (which can be improved with combat), to assign to command your divisions or brigades. These are just two examples in an intricate web of historical detail. WW2 history buffs like myself will be elated at the opportunity to not only, for example, command Rommel's Afrika Korps, but lead it to complete victory in the Middle East! Again, this is just an example that popped into my head, the level of possibility is insane.
Aside from the military aspect of the game, which is the focus, there are various other sectors of your nation that you can alter control. There is the politics tab, where you select your ministers and make policies, as well as administer the areas that have come under your occupation through war. There is the diplomacy tab, where, if you are a leader of a faction, such as the Axis, you can influence nations to join you in alliance, and make trade deals, sell equipment, declare war, ETC. Other tabs include research, production, intelligence. I won't go into detail on these, but all are as important as each other.
+ Insanely high level of historical detail (accurate divisional names, commanders, ministers in governments, literally tens of thousands of provinces)
+ Ability to relive or rewrite history, in your own unique way.
+ Greatly immersive, you get to the point where hours just slip away in what feels like minutes!
+ Huge scale wars, on land sea, and air, where you are the commander in chief.
- Not recommended if the player is looking for amazing graphics- the gameplay is what sells HOI3, not the visuals.
- A tad buggy. The game crashes relatively frequently, especially if tinkering around in console commands.
- Steep learning curve, but once you get the full hang of it, you'll realise it was well worth the time put into it.
Overall rating: 12/15 (Great!)