|Publisher: Virtual Programming Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: Any Version CPU: G3 @ 333 MHz RAM: 128 MB|
|Hearts of Iron|
November 21, 2003 | Michael Yanovich
Hearts of Iron. Yeah. Um. Wow! This game is ... well, itís hurting my brain. No, not like itís reaching out and clawing through my skull, but more like ... itís making me think way too hard. Here, let me explain.
HOI -- thatís Hearts of Iron on the one hand, and the sound youíll make when you realize how complex it is on the other hand -- is a World War II real-time (well, pausable real-time) strategy game. So letís start there.
Based on conversations with several of my colleagues who are college educated and old enough to know better, Iíve been stunned into realizing how little some graduates of the American educational system actually know about WWII. Thereís a lot to know -- itís frequently called the most significant event of the 20th century, and thatís a century that saw the rapid spread of flight and electric power, as well as the invention of computers, television, and the atomic bomb. So hereís the five-cent version.
Unlike some recent wars with questionable moral directive, itís pretty clear who the ďgood guysĒ and ďbad guysĒ were in WWII. First there were the Allies, whose key players were England, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. Thatís right -- even though America was in direct opposition with just about everything the U.S.S.R. stood for, the threat to the world was so great we actually joined forces. The bad guys, more commonly known as the Axis powers, consisted of Germany, Italy and Japan who were blatantly trying to take over as much of the world as they could while performing despicable acts of genocide. And in addition to that, the entire world had been in turmoil for well over a decade.
Now throw all that onto an engine designed for a significantly simpler medieval game.
See, in HOI, not only do you have to maintain a 20th century war economy while building new units, devising military strategies and keeping strong diplomatic relationships going -- you also have to decide if youíd rather focus on new armor riveting techniques for your tanks or if an infantry light rifle improvement takes priority over a medium rifle improvement. And would you like fries with that?
Now that weíve made it past the basics, letís go for the meat and potatoes. First, go read IMGís Europa Universalis review. This is especially relevant as Paradox took the EUII engine and converted it into a WWII game. In many ways thatís like putting a Porsche body onto a circa 1935 engine and chassis. Sure itíll get you there, but itís not the way youíd design the final product if you were starting from scratch. The result is a strong game but with a cluttered menu system and a Montezumaís Revenge version of information overload.