Hearts of Iron III: For The MotherlandESRB:
Platform: PC Games
Hearts of Iron 3 is a pausable real-time historical strategy sim, which, in true paradox style, means that, to play the game well, you need to have read the manual, browsed the forums a bit, and experimented a lot to get the hang of things, although, as with most of Paradox's releases, the load can be lightened, slightly, by allowing the AI to control certain areas. Lots of options to pick from, lots of things to think about, so if you don't like spending about half an hour looking at charts and mentally calculating odds before doing anything, Hearts of Iron 3 isn't the game for you. But what, specifically, does this new addon bring to the mix?
Well, the most important feature it brings means that, even if the enemy has occupied a few countries you own, or even a lot of them, you still have the chance to fight back. Historically, a lot of countries formed resistance movements to their conquerors, and the Underground HQ building allows you to do just that, with the choice of either spawning a guerilla unit as soon as you build up the strength, or expanding the resistance movement. It's not always a good idea, as their strength depends on support within the area, and resistance units far from an airbase will start weak, easy prey to the main factor in reducing partisan strength, units with a high Suppresion Value. But it's an extra option.
The addon also reshuffles the government system, by no longer allowing espionage to influence neutrality (Neutrality is instead based on the highest threat), and adding a layer of complexity to the game by introducing coups (best done when you have a strong party presence in that country, and every other party is squabbling among themselves), and representation within the cabinet, which basically means that the stronger a party, the more they will cause trouble if they're not on your cabinet, and the more division and strife there'll be if you let them join the cabinet. Air ranges have now been made more clear, and the USA also has an extra option with “The Undeclared War”, which allows nations who are under the US's Lend Lease Agreement to attack German units in the Atlantic without having to declare war, a useful option for tying up the German navy.
5 extra scenarios, which basically involve smaller maps, strict goals, and mostly disabled options (You can't, for example, control intelligence or politics during the scenarios) are also included. All five represent important theaters of World War 2: Operation Desert Fox, the Battle of the Bulge, Fall Blau, the Southern Conquests, and Operation – Unthinkable. Each scenario can be played with one of at least two nations (Desert Fox, for example, is Italy versus the UK), and each nation can accept as many or as few victory conditions from the list as they want (The basic UK conditions, for example, are to take and hold Tarabula by the end of the scenario, which is about eight or nine provinces away from the nearest UK unit). While each scenario is pretty much focussed on the military end of things, don't assume it's any easier, because each scenario is based upon some of the most tactically difficult theatres of WW2, and, as such, they're extremely challenging.
Finally, there are various military changes, such as an improved theatre screen that allows you to refine AI control, wargoals for each theatre as opposed to the surrender option of previous patches (allowing you to do more than just conquer a country, and giving you points based on whether you did what you came for, not just whether you lost more units than the other person), and extra strategic resources basically give you a little more to think about before letting the timer run on.
But, even though the addon does change a few of the important features, and, from what I can tell, these changes are useful, it's still a game that requires several hours of prep time and research before your first game, is quite difficult to learn, has minimalist graphics, and a lot of windows to keep an eye on from turn to turn. As such, if you're not a hardcore turn based strategy buff, stay away.