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Posted on Apr 7, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Hearts of Iron II Doomsday – Game Review (PC)

James Lombardi

The diplomacy features now allow you to sell units to other countries, which could make for some interesting alternate histories. Curious to see if the US can affect the war at the outset by (cheaply) selling a number of tanks and other units to France or Poland before 1939? I was disappointed that there is still no way to exchange blueprints with non-allied nations (although it seems reasonable for certain types of research I think the option should be there).

However, by far the most worthwhile addition to the game in this expansion is the inclusion of several management features. You can now designate units as “Do Not Upgrade” and/or “Do Not Reinforce” which was one of my biggest complaints about the original game. As I often enjoyed playing games as the Soviet Union, I despised only being able to prioritize units rather than being able to actually exclude my random infantry unit in the middle of Siberia from taking up valuable ICs to upgrade to the next level of infantry.

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Also several automatic features were added to reduce micromanagement. You can have the computer deal with your IC levels based on three areas you want it to focus on. Out of the box this feature had some problems, but a patch was released immediately with the game and one of the included fixes seemed to fix the problems with the function. Another feature I didn’t expect but was very happy to see was that you can have the computer deal with trade negotiations for you (you can have it decide whether to accept incoming requests and whether it should seek out agreements on your behalf). When you play a large country such as the US or the Soviet Union, you can very often suddenly have 20 trade requests piling up on the side of your window.

Germany may be reunifying earlier than expected. I’ve heard people condemn FDR as a Socialist, but now I’m starting to wonder…

The final major addition to the game is the actual “Doomsday” grand scenario (there were no new battle scenarios). The scenario picks up at the close of the war with the Soviet Union attempting to storm across Europe before the United States can gear up production of the atom bomb. This is solely a matter of preference but I was rather disappointed that the scenario starts with the Soviets and Allies already at war rather than allowing me time to prepare things myself. However, I also refuse to ever play any of the later grand scenarios where war has already broken out. I did play the scenario for a time as an uninvolved nation to watch the way it played out with the AI. Amusingly one of the first things that happened was that the United States nuked Moscow. The game slowed down after a few months with the Soviets just short of being able to reunite Germany, before I decided to try a game starting all the way back in 1936.

When push comes to shove, this expansion is worth picking up for the serious Hearts of Iron II fan. If you had enough of the game and don’t find yourself compelled to replay it from time to time, the additional content might not be enough to keep you interested for too long. If you were always wondering whether Hearts of Iron II was worth a try but never got around to it, now is definitely your time. This expansion is stand-alone so you can pick it up without ever having the original and still have all the same great content. Some of the game’s flaws are still there, for example, I still had a few CTD’s (crashes to desktop) while playing. Although, while portions of the manual are right out of the original’s manual, I feel like they better explained certain aspects of the game that even after playing many games I never fully understood.

Pros: Some nice new additions, great new management features, being able to play more years is never a bad thing (unless you know… you have things you have to do outside of the game).

Cons: Still occasional crashes, some of the new stuff doesn’t seem to have a hugely significant effect on the game.

Bottom Line: If you’ve never played Hearts of Iron II, now is your chance. If you loved the game, this is probably worth the cheap investment.

Armchair General Score: 84%

54/60—Gameplay
16/20—Graphics
08/10—Sound
06/10—Documentation & Technical

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