One of the biggest flaws with Hearts of Iron was that you always knew the total composition of the enemy’s armies via the handy and useful information panel. Paradox has changed this and added an interesting element of espionage to Hearts of Iron: Doomsday by making this information sketchy at best, but now you can send out spies to keep you informed of the enemy’s movements, production priorities, and technological developments.
The good parts (5 out of 5)
Hearts of Iron: Doomsday is one of the most complete strategy gaming experiences I have ever played, with incredibly detailed depth and scope of content implemented in all aspects this game is not for the faint of heart, and beginning strategy gamers will probably find it a little intimidating at first.
All aspects of Doomsday have tremendous replay value – You can play as any number of available countries, which allows you to try every philosophy; including communist, democratic and fascist or implement your own philosophies on world peace.
Paradox Interactive has tremendously increased the fun from the previous titles in the franchise with Doomsday – The intimidating interface is more user friendly, and the new elements of espionage mesh perfectly with everything done previously.
Parts that could be improved (4 out of 5)
Hearts of Iron 2 has one of the steepest learning curves of any strategy game ever made, Doomsday inherits this learning curve and actually flattens the curve out a little, and Doomsday is a much more user friendly game that is even more fun than previous titles in the franchise.
The game graphics (4 out of 5)
The engine used to produce Doomsday is starting to show its age compared too many games being developed, it still produces nice graphics that have more then enough detail and texture, but could certainly use a little updating to bring it into the 21st century of interactive graphical presentation. The unit animations are generally poor compared to other games being made and the color palette could use a little tweaking to give them a brighter look.
Sounds in the game (3 out of 5)
The sound track is one of the weaker elements, it may even annoy at times. It does have enough energy for a combat theme, but after a few minutes the entertainment value it might have had is gone.
The sound effects include things like the sound of armies matching to war when you invade and other such simple effects, but then the need for impressive sound effects isn’t as important or useful in strategy games of this type and scope.
The story line (4 out of 5)
Hearts of Iron: Doomsday puts you in the suit and dress shoes of a leader overseeing the affairs of a nation in the WWII era in real time, you need to manage the nations resources, determine the course of the nation in the difficult WWII era, and possibly take them to war against your neighbours.
Playability (5 out of 5)
Hearts of Iron is a game stuck somewhere between Axis & Allies and Squad Leader in complexity and playability, and while the changes made to Doomsday do take away from the playability of the game a bit, they made Doomsday a much friendlier game to play. The simplified research and technology tree is a lot easier to use, the element of espionage really improves the game play, and it’s easier than ever to wage and manage the ground wars.
Paradox listened to the complaints from earlier titles and to help the learning curve they have included six tutorials to help beginners learn the game play elements of Doomsday, but beware of information overload and do them in bite size meals.
The amount of information screens and boxes can be daunting, they take awhile to read, and do slow down the pace of the game significantly. This should be the area Paradox should try to focus on with the next title, if they make one, if they could eliminate the need for so many screens, it would move the pace of Hearts of Iron 2 and improve the game significantly.
Doomsday includes 4 sprawling campaigns, but if you want a faster game you can select a quick limited conflict with set adversaries, like D-Day or Operation Barbarossa, and play on a number of difficulty settings, although I found the highest to be the only good challenge setting. You can choose to play as such a variety of different countries that the game play possibilities are virtually endless when combined with the choices in diplomatic and economic philosophies you could employ.
The bottom line (4 out of 5)
Paradox Interactive has done a lot of nice work improving previous problems from the original Hearts of Iron, the game plays a lot better, is better balanced, and even more fun than previous titles. The steep learning curve and historical accuracy and detail is wonderful and informative, so you might want to keep a reference text in one hand and the mouse in the other. The ability to wage global war has never been easier, you can choose to use intrigue and espionage to improve your countries chances, and just about every country is included. Hearts of Iron: Doomsday has so many options for fun and entertaining game play that I will still be playing this game next year.