Hearts of Iron III was one of the most in-depth strategy games ever, and this newly released expansion, ‘Their Finest Hour’ only solidifies that statement. Those familiar with this series – rejoice! as Paradox Interactive improves many areas of the game with the release of this expansion. The ability to revise what happened during WWII doesn’t make this game special; it’s the way you can perform it. Newly introduced extended features both in single and multiplayer, with new units and game-modes only make Hearts of Iron III more enjoyable.
In Hearts of Iron III, you play the role of the President of the nation of your choice during the period 1935-1947. Your objective is to win World War II. As the President, the progress of your nation depends on your actions, both in and out of battle. You have to manage your country’s economy by controlling the resources, productions and managing trades. Additionally, create alliances with to help maintain a steady diplomatic stand. And, most important of all, is to control your army. Each game takes 50-70 hours to finish, which I believe is nothing regular strategy fan can’t handle.
Their Finest makes many improvements. Most extraordinary the new mode that lets gamers to construct detailed battle plans. Plans will stay on top of any map as an overlay. Besides being able to save and edit those plans, historic battle plans can be loaded too. Though the outcome of these plans may not play out the same as it did historically; even if you follow exactly how it was executed. Obviously the unit specifications will make the difference. Players can learn how it was done during the actual war and compare with their constructed plans and share them with allied nations during multiplayer. The espionage system is also enhanced. Now you can gather more army intel and hints about enemy army arrangement and take necessary steps to avoid heavy loss or defeat. There are still plenty of areas to be improved when it comes to war on the air however. Elite units for the major nations are another new inclusion. These elite units are specialized infantry equipped with terrain bonuses that can both help and hinder them. Each nation’s Elite unit comes in limited numbers, so it’s wise to place them in a suitable terrain to get their utmost services.
A new Custom Game mode for both single and multiplayer has been introduced. Custom mode lets you play in six different scenarios with states where every action grants instantly response. This includes unit productions, tech researches and even political placements. Not to mention you can speed up years and leap straight into the final action. To me it seemed more like an extended tutorial where players can experiment. Since you are able to start the game from forwarded date; (not 1935), it saves an awful lot of time in multiplayer. Another noticeable improvement is that one can now lend his industrial capacity to the allies, which gives more comprehensive control over the strategic warfare. The expansion also lets your leaders gain traits. Each time they take part in a battle they can utilize a new system called combat tactics. Depending on the type of unit they are commanding and the type of weapon the unit have, the leaders can gain traits after a battle is won or lost. Leader traits will provide specific bonus during wars and can turn ineffective if applied with a wrong battle tactics. Most of these traits can be gained by fighting in different terrains. Each terrain type will provide specific traits; for instance if your leader keeps on fighting on desert terrain, winning a few battles will gain him the Desert Fox traits. Likewise Swamp Fox, Hill Fighter, Jungle Rat etc can all be gained through warfare in related terrains.
What’s still lacking is the naval invasions system. It works system works just fine, but there’s this thing you can tell not going right according to the standard of the game. New ships and technology have been introduced but that really doesn’t give the sense of completion. Something for the developers to think about before releasing the next expansion, alongside the improvements on the air war mode. Other than that, the game still remains gleaming and a genuine feed for the strategy fans. Adding to their delights, new battle scenarios ‘the Spanish Civil War’ and ‘the Finish Winter War’ have been added too. This expansion has mostly enhanced on the convoy raiding and defense, aerial war and bombing. The Battle of Britain should make a good instance to that. Though there are still many improvements to be added to call Hearts of Iron a perfect game, but it’s definitely on the right course. Like I’ve said before, if strategy games are your obsession, you should never miss this complex and yet joyful experience of winning a historical war.