Hearts of Iron 3 may well be the most infuriating game you’ll ever love.
- It’s incredibly buggy (the 0-day patch included a bug that, um, prevented any major power from actually being able to run a military)
- It’s wildly ahistorical (without a walkthrough from Brandon “GreenMarine” Reinhart on how to use some of the new diplomatic/intelligence systems, the entire world will gang up on whatever side you’re not on in short order)
- It’s about as good an example of “holy god, no one will be able to play this game” scope explosion as you can imagine, with the entire global World War 2 modeled on the brigade/regiment scale, and research calling back to Hearts of Iron 1’s researching tank camshafts
- You’ll worry a lot more about TOE, supply and logistics issues than is reasonably sane for a civilian
Oh, and before I forget:
- The AI is really good (in my current game as Germany, the UK blasted through and invaded East Prussia shortly after the invasion of Poland)
- The organization feature teaches you why armies have all those ranks and things (your armies won’t function effectively unless you organize them into corps, armies, and army corps)
- Most crazy levels of detail can be safely offloaded to the AI and it won’t actually suck as badly as you’d think (a working, if not the most effective strategy for invading Poland is putting everything on AI control, right clicking on Warsaw, and saying “Go”)
- It looks creepily like the kind of wargame I owned in the 1980s with tens of thousands of counters. Note: I didn’t say “played”. No one “played” those monsters and remained sane.
- Despite all of the above, it’s actually fairly playable. Go figure.
Should you buy it? If you haven’t already, probably best to wait for the inevitable blizzard of patches and expansions (Europa Universalis 3, for example, didn’t become a really good game until the 2nd expansion). However, given how much of the game logic is exposed to Lua scripting, the manic Hearts of Iron user community may well just make a damn expansion themselves. With sharks and lasers. Well, maybe with PzkpfwIVds.