Hearts of Iron II

by Wencke Schuncken
author awarded score: 50/100

Hearts Of Iron II
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: Paradox Interactive
Format Reviewed: PC
Review by: Wencke Schuncken

How long has it been since World War II? More then 60 years ago and it has inspired many game developers ever since to produce games such as first person shooters and strategy games, based on the World War II. Hearts of Iron II is no exception in this genre and is the latest strategy war game available for PC. It is a dream come true for every armchair general and forces the gamer to choose sides when democracy, communism and fascism clash in the battles that changed history.

 Hearts Of Iron II review

Prepare for warAs soon as I got my hands on the review copy, my first thoughts were that it involved a game like "risk". Moving around with armies, commanding your troops and conquer the battles. Just like a young kid playing with tin soldiers, it's not comparable to the real world wars which are more complicated and chaotic. And that is also the case with this game. Be prepared…
Hearts of Iron 2 is the sequel to the most appreciated World War II PC game of true Grand Strategic scope ever made. As in its forbear, the map spans the entire world and allows you to play one of over 175 countries during the course of World War II. The game is completely revised with an updated combat system, a new map, revised and easy-to-use interface, new technology tree and hundreds of other updates and improvements.

GameplayTutorials are a must to be able to play the game. Otherwise you can throw it in the bin immediately as it will get to complicated and no fun to play with. "Don't panic" and "Be patient" are two essential golden rules when you start the tutorial mode as it contains an information overload. After dealing with the tutorials it's action time. Four big campaigns and 15 scenarios are available to choose from. Although you try to play the war as realistic as possible, it's always possible to change the history. For example if you want to stop the Germans with a Colombian Army nobody is going to stop you from doing so, except from the Germans point of view of course. They will do anything to win the battles. Besides choosing which campaign or scenario you have to understand that every choice made during the game influences the world's future.
All countries around the world are each divided in regions, the battlegrounds to set out your strategies. Attacking by air, on the ground or by sea is the best defense but bundle your strengths and don't try to conquer a land with only the air force! You also have to keep in mind that other features can influence your strategic plan such as the weather, technology, different kind of weapons to equip your boys, etc.

 Hearts Of Iron II review

ProgressYour countries' progress as a politically and military ruler depends on the factor technology. Up to five research teams can be assigned to study different kind of technologies. And to make it even more difficult, each technology contains different kind of technologies which also requires outsider help!
Let's fabricate some war monsters; ground vehicles, airplanes and ships. Important is to choose wise of what to produce and stagnation won't occur due to the lack of (raw) materials. If that's the case you can always try to steal the enemies' materials or diplomatically negotiate with economic partners. This brings me to the point that other countries behavior is depending on your political and diplomatic skills of your country. Because of this the game includes a feature where you can exchange ministers to take another political turn. If you want to give the US a dictatorial regime, an open market in Russia and have communists ruling over Germany, it's possible but it's going to take some time. Any changes made influences the way other countries react to you!

Female Gaming AngleThe female gamer aspect of this really doesn’t matter. This game is for anyone, who is into strategy war games. But I wonder how many women are going to play this type of game, could it be 1% of the female gamers? That’s a positive rating. Personally I didn’t like the game and gave it a low rating due to the dull graphics, the overload of information which resulted in a boring gameplay. Let’s head to the end conclusion before I reveal more.

 Hearts Of Iron II review

ConclusionThe game takes time, it takes dedication, it takes strategy enthusiasm and last but not least a common sense to accomplish the scenarios and campaigns. For a newbee it's going to be pretty tough to manage all the provided information, statistics and gameplay. But after playing it for a while and getting more experienced you'll understand how to play the game. But the learning curve is very high and gamers who want to "plug in and play" shall not appreciate this game as the tutorial isn't quite motivating with the overload over information on how to play the game. As seen on the screenshots, don’t expect too much graphical art. All this combined with NOT a lot of action and multi statistics screens it’s boring to watch. A typical strategy game for a particular gamer who I haven’t met yet.