WWII. It has so many games based on it that it probably accounts for half of the titles out there. Not only is Hearts of Iron Platinum a WWII game, it is a patched up, repackaged WWII game that was originally released quite some time ago. The original had some flaws that kept it from greatness, but still it had a good concept. This release incorporates all of the patches to date, and remakes different elements of the game to address the flaws that drove gamers crazy. To be honest with you, I think Paradox Entertainment hit the nail on the head when addressing these issues, and recreated their game to be a jewel to those who take the time to play it.
For those of you that didn’t know, HOIP is like a massive “What If” game that spans the time period of 1936-1948. During that time period, you can choose to play as not only as one of the major powers during the war, but almost any country in the war. You play through the years making every decision needed to run your country, from your industry to your military units. You don’t however; play as Private Bob from Bravo squad fighting to get from one side of the street to the other. Instead, you play as the person in charge of the overall decisions. You care about divisions of troops, and you build up from there. You won’t fight it out in the streets, because you will never see the streets. This is not a game that does war on a small scale. This is where the big boys play, and as such, sets you in a whole new ballgame.
In HOIP, you will build your country’s military, technology, diplomatic relations and industry so that you can contend with the other nations for supremacy. Each of these is interwoven in with each other, and if you lack in one, the other three will quickly follow suit. Your industry allows you to create new military units and supply them, provide goods to your civilians so they don’t become discontent, and provides you with the resources needed to research new technologies. Without your technology, your enemies will quickly beat you with fewer but more efficient and deadly troops. Not having friends or trade agreements with other countries will not be beneficial to you either. Without a military, other nations will use you as a doormat. Each of these plays a critical role, and you will be juggling between these four constantly through the game.
To start things off, I’ll explain the Industry portion first, which is the backbone of everything that you do. The bigger and better your industry is, the more points you can set aside for production of military units, the more you can research, the more military units you can field, and the more goods you can give to your people. These four areas are woven together, and if you adjust one of them, the other three will adjust accordingly. This makes you focus and prioritize what you need, because there is no “one size fits all”. If you are not really making military units at the time, you can decrease the amount of resources that are set aside for it, and increase the amount to something that you ware using, like research. In addition, each area has a minimum amount of industry needed to function at full capacity. If you have any military units (and you will), you need to have a minimum amount of recourses dedicated towards supply. The larger the army, the more you will need. If you can’t set aside enough resources, then your entire army will start feeling the effects, and will be less effective in battle. In a game like this, you need every advantage you can get.
Unlike most strategy games, units are not produced quickly. A game day lasts about a minute on the average speed. So, when you create a standard infantry unit, you are in for a wait since it takes about 90 days. If you want to attach an artillery unit to it, it will take even longer. Ships are the real culprits, taking upwards of 400 days and more. Thankfully, you can speed up time so a game day lasts but a few seconds. You will have to seriously map out what you need before you actually need it, and that in it self is difficult to do.
Speaking of planning, HOIP allows you an incredible amount control over when you get to engage your enemy. If you wish, you can just select a bunch of units and have them attack a territory, but doing things that way will reduce your effectiveness in the long run. Instead, it is much better to coordinate attacks with different parts of your military. You can tell your units exactly when you want them to attack down to the hour. This enables you to launch a series of strikes in the same province on the same day at different times. Your enemy is more likely to falters if bombed first, then rushed by tanks an hour later. Just the fact that you have this ability just oozes coolness.
Diplomacy is done through a simple menu and something called Diplomatic Influence. As you progress through the game, you will quickly realize that your growing country will not have the ability to readably produce all of the raw materials needed operate normally day to day, and your stockpiles don’t last forever. Although you can always get more materials via hostile takeover, some nations such as the USA don’t favor that option. Instead, trading with other countries is vitally important. You can influence other countries to see your way on issues, forge alliances and many other options. You do this through Diplomatic Influence, which you accumulate every month. The more you have, the more options available to you to sway a country towards your line of thinking. It’s an innovative system and is carried out pretty well.
Technology is probably the simplest portion of the game. If you don’t upgrade, your troops will become quickly outdated and beaten by better-equipped forces. Plus, the only way you can utilize any atomic weaponry is through research. There are so many categories and choices to choose from that it will be very difficult to use them all. You will mainly have to pick a path and stick to it. The amount you research is limited really to only how much money you choose to set aside for technology. Obviously, the more you set aside, the better.
Now, when it comes to the graphics of HOIP, do not expect a revelation. In fact, don’t expect really anything worthwhile at all. It’s crisp and clean, but still doesn’t look great. The good news is that the game doesn’t need the high-end graphics cards that the other games might need to power their visuals. What you see when you first get into a scenario is pretty much what you will see for the rest of your gaming time.
The other two areas that I need to point out are the sound and multiplayer. Multiplayer is almost a waste in my opinion. HOIP is not exactly a game that you want to play online with people you have never met. This game takes a considerable amount of time to play out. It is much more geared towards singleplayer, but if you wanted, you can do multiplayer, and it works without a hitch.
The sound, sadly, isn’t the greatest. I played through the game twice, and after going through the first time, I just listened to music instead of the game. The only good thing about the sound is the musical elements, but there just isn’t enough variety. You can play through the game with no sound and not have a single problem. It’s more like background noise that you won’t miss if it was taken away.
HOIP comes with one major problem though. The difficulty in learning this game is insane. It took me several hours to really get the hang of what is going on. The tutorials and book helped, but not enough to really lower the learning curve at all. To help against this, the manual has an index in the back to assist you in looking for answers. Ultimately, it comes down to time and patience. You really need to take some considerable time get used to what your doing. If your are not willing to sit down and learn this complex game despite being lost for a while, don’t bother with HOIP.
To wrap up what I am trying to say, HOIP is definitely a great game. That said, it’s very difficult to learn what you need to do and how to do it. Once you overcome that obstacle, you are provided with an extremely rewarding game that allows you to change history as you see fit. For the price and the quality of the game, Hearts Of Iron Platinum is the best WWII strategy simulation on the market currently.