Pros: Very in depth war simulation game
Cons: Very complex with a steep learning curve
Rated E 10+
By: Paradox Interactive
Released August 2009
Multiplayer support
System requirements
• Operating system: Windows 2000/XP/Vista
• Processor: Intel® Pentium® IV 2.4 GHz or AMD 3500+
• Memory: 2Gb RAM
• Hard disk space: 2 GB Available HDD Space
• Video: NVIDIA® GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon® X1900
• Sound: Direct X-compatible sound card
• DirectX®: DirectX 9

Hearts of Iron 3 is more of a World War II simulator than a strategy game. Yes there are battles, but the main focus is to control what goes on behind the scenes, including production, politics, diplomatic relations, espionage, and technology. You can play as any nation in the world from 1936 to 1948. The Quick Start nations of focus are US, Germany, Japan and Russia. Let me start off by saying that this is not a strategy game for the timid or those just starting to get into strategy games. Fortunately all of those areas of focus I mentioned before can be controlled by you, or you can assign it to be controlled by AI. If you really wanted to, you can have the computer control everything and you can watch it conquer the world. But where is the fun in that?

There are many levels of difficulty ranging from very easy to very hard. On the easier difficulties you will have advantages such as lower revolt risk, more manpower, resources, Industrial Capacity (IC), and transporting supplies. Winning the game is determined by Victory Points which are awarded for controlling provinces. You can gain and lose control of provinces during land battles. There are naval and air battles too.

Like many strategy games you have resources to keep an eye on. The minerals in this game are Energy, Metal, Rare Materials, and Crude Oil. Industrial Capacity is the output of your economy and it\'s on a use it or lose it basis. You cannot store it up so you have to make sure your economy is being run very efficiently. Consumer Goods is another resource to consider; if you don\'t keep your population happy, they will revolt.

There are many tabs on top of the game interface. I\'ll briefly describe what they do. The Diplomacy Tab shows where your country stands compared to others. On the right a triangular area shows how all the countries are aligned to the three major factions (Facists, Democracies, and Communists). In the Diplomacy Tab you can also initiate diplomatic actions and trade agreements.

The Production Interface is where you manage your Industrial Capital. From here you can control upgrades, reinforcements, supplies, production, and consumer goods. The values will change constantly unless you lock them into place by double clicking on them. It\'s going to be hard to meet all the demands so there will be a lot of tweaking to do here. If you don\'t feel like babysitting this section, the AI can take care of it for you.

The technology interface is where you can manage your leadership points. Leadership points are attained by controlling provinces. You can allocate your leadership points for officers, research, diplomacy, or espionage. To be fully staffed each division requires 100 officers so if you want a competent army, make sure you\'re not lacking here. If you\'re aiming for diplomacy, make sure you\'re not wasting any points; there\'s a 100 point cap so assign the excess points to another area.

The politics interface will show an organizational table of your current political party. You can see where your politicians stand and replace them as you desire. From here you can liberate nations, mobilize your army, create puppet leaders, and enact laws.

From the intelligence tab you can manage your spies and view the reports that they bring back. You can order your spies to get military, technical, political data, or to disrupt enemy research, production or national unity.

Lastly there is a statistics tab where you can see how your country fares compared to others. By utilizing these charts you can determine your weaknesses and what to focus on next.

The controls in this game are all mouse driven. When you select a province or a military unit an information menu comes up and you can see their status or click on the map to where you want them to go or attack.

Graphically this game is pretty bland but it gets the job done. This game is so complex I doubt pretty graphics would make it any easier anyways. The multiple map views are helpful. You can view the map by victory points, resources, weather, supplies, infrastructure, region, diplomacy, terrain, and revolt risk. There is a lot to control so pass off whatever you don\'t want to deal with to the computer!

The game has decent background music. I think voice acting would have been helpful to make the tutorials a bit more interactive. The scripting is good and I think having voice narration would add so much to it and make the game a bit more appealing.

The maps are very big and cause the game to have a long load time initially. Fortunately once they\'ve loaded there are no further delays. Several patches have been released so make sure your game is up to date. To avoid game hang-ups, Vista users should run this game in administrator mode.

From an appropriateness level this is a war game and you will see some battles and explosions. There are no gory details. I recommend this game for mature players only due to the steep learning curve.

At the time of this writing Hearts of Iron 3 is the number one selling game on GamersGate.com. There is multiplayer support but unfortunately I did not see any hosts online. The game replay ability is pretty limitless and if you\'re really into World War 2 and strategy games you may want to consider this game. Given the complexity of it I strongly recommend that you try out the demo before paying $40.

Game Play : 12/20
Graphics: 5/10
Sound: 6/10
Controls/Interface 3/5
Stability: 3/5
Game Score: 29/50
Appropriateness Score: 46/50

-4 for violence

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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