The King of Grand Strategy
Most of you who visit the shop-page for Hearts of Iron III probably already know what this game is all about. It's a hardcore (as hardcore as it can get!) Grand Strategy Game by Paradox Interactive. That really says it all.
This review is intended for those who don't yet know what Grand Strategy (the capitals are there with a purpose!) is all about. Simply put: Grand Strategy games are the best pc gaming has to offer. They are immersive, complex, and very addictive. They are not for everyone, that's for sure. You don't play them for the graphics, nor for the sounds, but only for the gameplay, which can also be very, very difficult to master.
Let's take Hearts of Iron III as an example. Untill less than a year ago, I was convinced that this kind of games was nothing for me. Too difficult, too one-sided, I had lots of reasons not to delve into them. That's untill my son convinved me of trying this one. I gave it a try, but stopped playing after an hour of so. I couldn't make anything out of all the numbers on the screen, and the static map where nothing seemed to happen. Then I read a superb guide made by the famous HOI3-community. It took me over a month to study guide and game, but then I was hooked. You see: it literally takes effort and even study to get into this game, but once you've done that, the effort more than pays off, and you can start guiding your nation to victory, or ... survival.
HOI3 lets you play ANY of the nations in the world, starting on 1/1/1936 and going to World War II. It's a tough challenge because you have to manage all aspects of government and military, but once you see your nation flourishing, the reward it enthralling. Just give it a try if you feel it's ok to have to study a game in order to be able to enjoy it; the rewards will be there for sure. Very important: do get the expansion packs Semper Fi, For the Motherland and Their Finest Hour as well (all three needed). They really improve upon game mechanics.
Graphics: 14/20 (they do the job more than decently, but could have been a bit more engrossing)
Sound: 7/10 (playlist is great!)
Gameplay for your money: 18/20 (multiplayer is a technical disaster, but SP can keep you going for years)
Technical/stability: 8/10 (after lots of bug-problems, it's now fairly stable, but MP is really difficult to set up)
Personal feel: 10/10 (just love this one)