Hearts of Iron III is a real-time grand strategy and operational tactics game set during the Second World War. All aspects of warfare at the divisional scale upwards are represented, including military command structures, military appointments, economics, production, international trade, logistics, espionage, military research, legal polices, and political appointments. Players can (and should) automate as much of the game as they wish, and the friendly AI is very good at handling routine tasks and reducing micromanagement.
The sheer scale of this game can be overwhelming at first. You can play as any nation and even avoid participating in world wars altogether. You can start a small scale regional war to advance your nation's expansionist interests whilst the rest of the world is distracted by the threat of even greater wars, such as the first half of the Second Sino-Japanese War before the bombing of Pearl Harbour. This period in history centres around total war, or the use of all the state's resources towards warfare and some countries will find it incredibly difficult to avoid being engulfed in the Second World War.
Admittedly, it's a hard game to love at first. The music score is mediocre, and the UI offers so much information players won't know on what to focus. To make matters worse, both the tutorial and manual are useless. Luckily, there's an excellent video series by Michael Broschek covering everything you need (YouTube
). I strongly recommend you watch this tutorial series. Afterwards, the UI becomes very easy to navigate and you'll know what and how to automate using the AI, making gameplay a breeze without losing control.
The command structure for land units is a unique feature of this game and I haven't found anything else like it. Once you've mastered them they become incredibly powerful tools for automation. Largely static lines of defence and slowly advancing attack can be reliably handled by the AI, whilst you can focus your attention on the main thrust. Military units at the lowest level are brigades organised into divisions. Divisions can then be attached to corps, corps to army, and armies to army groups. Having different levels of command grant powerful bonuses. Depending on which general you assign to a division, there are additional bonuses or downsides. However, you must remain within the command range of each respective command level in order to gain those bonuses or units will lose cohesion. Navies and air forces are much easier to handle, due to how their command structures operate differently.
There's endless replayability within the standard game, but for those wanting more it's essential that you shop around for some of the user made modifications. There are literally dozens of top quality mods on the developer forums (Paradox Plaza
), though you'll need to create a free account in order to access it. The standard game provides a good challenge at the hardest difficulty level, but allows for unrealistically easy and effective Blitzkrieg-style tactics. In my opinion, the best realism mod right now is the Iron Cross Edition, or BlackICE (Paradox Plaza Thread
). It's intended for those looking for a realistic and incredibly difficult challenge, and is meant to be played at the hardest difficulty setting.
Posted: 4 Δεκεμβρίου 2013