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PC Game Review - Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday


Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday (Publisher: Paradox Interactive)

Review by John and Matt Barratt 

The original Hearts of Iron game sharply polarised much of the gaming community. Some loved it for its innovative design and ideas. Others would have loved to love it, but were deterred by various flaws and rough edges.

Many of these problems were addressed, and to a large extent overcome, in the totally re-vamped and redesigned Hearts of Iron II- so much so that the immediate reaction to the latest incarnation, Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday might understandably be "is there enough new to make purchasing it worth while?" The answer, at least for hardened HOI grogs, is "yes".

The feature which will initially strike players is that the long campaign scenario has been extended until 1953, and a new scenario added at the end of that period covering the Cold War turning "hot" following a lethal nuclear onslaught by the west on Soviet forces driving deep into Western Germany. This scenario throws the player straight into combat without the preliminary production and diplomatic cycle of the main campaign game, and he will find himself in the thick of battle from the start, and desperately throwing together some sort of improvised plan whilst reacting to fast-moving events on the global battlefield.

Whilst this new scenario alone might not be sufficient incentive for many to purchase the game, there are also a number of substantial new features added and improvements made to the HOI 2 system. Many of these are intended to streamline the handling of , in particular, some of the economic and production routines. If desired, for example, the AI can now auto-manage trade with other countries, as well as the allocation of IC resources, the player having the option to set priorities for the AI to take into account.

There have also been significant changes to the technology tree, building on the increased realism of HOI 2 . Some of these reflect the additional technological capacity of the additional time-span of the new main scenario. For example many new aircraft types have been added to represent the continued development of the turbo-jet, a-historical premature production being prevented by the requirement to complete the "secret weapon" of jet propulsion first. The development of other technological innovations such as "plastics" is also included.

Perhaps the most significant new feature of HOI 2:Doomsday , is the addition of a completely new "intelligence" feature. This includes advances in "encryption and decryption", reflecting such major factors as ULTRA. Even more significantly, a player may now produce "spies" to operate in other countries, not only to provide intelligence, but also to carry out subversive operations such as sabotage, smear campaigns against ministers and even assassinations. Being caught out in such operations in peacetime can however result in a significant penalty in terms of diplomatic relations with the country concerned.

Equally important in the "intelligence" system is the production of agents to operate at home in the "player's own "counter-intelligence" teams.

The combat system has not changed greatly from that in HOI 2 , but one significant addition is that leaders can now accumulate and develop several particular characteristics and skills as a result of their combat performance. A leader may, for example, as a result of his experience in these conditions, become an expert in mountain or urban warfare.

This is coupled with significant improvements in the AI's ability to conduct coherent combat operations on a large scale, providing a noticeably tougher opponent than before.

Conclusion

This is a joint review conveying the impressions of one individual who has hitherto not been altogether at ease with the HOI system, and another who has followed its progress closely. As a relative "freshman", one of us, (JB) whilst still somewhat swamped in actual combat situations, finds the other new features of the game both realistic and challenging. The other, (MB) at ease with both aspects, warmly recommends the additional features of HOI 2: Doomsday as a very significant further advance in the evolution of HOI.

Minimum Recommended Specs

Pentium 3 -800
128 Ram
600 MB HD space
4MB Video card Direct-X 9 compatible
Windows 98/ME/2000/XP

Reviewers' PC

Pentium 4- 3.20
1GB Ram
128 MB Radeon 9800 video card
Direct-X 9
Windows XP

Review by John and Matt Barratt (johnbarratt46@johnbarratt46.plus.com)



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