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'Il Duce' Reviews

Discussion in 'PC and Console Simulations' started by Mussolini, May 31, 2007.

  1. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Sep 10, 2000
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    The following games have been played and reviewed by Mussolini, following the criteria posted in Mussolinis Wargame Review System.

    All games are purchased with Mussolinis money so requests for game reviews will not take place, unless companies start sending Mussolini games for free. :eek:
  2. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Sep 10, 2000
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    Medieval Total War II Review

    1.5 GHz Processor
    512 MB RAM
    8 GB Hard disk space
    128 MB Graphics card
    Windows 2K/ME/XP/Vista

    Release Date:
    Nov 14, 2006

    Presentation/Pacakge: 10/10
    Once again, MTWII includes a map that shows each territory and city, along with a manual relating to gameplay. Menu options allow Grand Campgain, Tutorial, Historical Battles, and Custom Battles. Multiplayer, too. They seem to have covered every base.

    Graphics: 18 / 20
    Not a big step up from Rome: Total War...the Campaign map does have graphical improvements, but the biggest upgrade came with the battle maps and units. Battle Maps dont seem to have 'borders' anymore. It creates a feel of fighting a battle in a particular area of the world. Ships, cities, etc can be seen off in the distance. Armor and units look amazing, and each individual unit fights - not a generic 'movement' like previously done.

    Interface: 9/10
    Nothing spectacular here, but it is easy to use. Holding mouse over any button reveals what it does. Possible to change formations, both for singular groups or mass groups. Also provides detailed stats and historic information on each unit type. You can also check out your family tree, status with the pope, overall standings, etc through easy-to-find buttons.

    Gameplay: 17/20
    This game is basically a remake of Rome Total War, only set in the medieval time period. It uses an updated engine and includes a ton of new content and units. It also introduces us the Aztecs - an unplayable faction but one you fight against once you reach the ability to travel to North America. Religion plays an important role in this game: Catholic, Orthodox, Islam. You get missions from your religious leaders, can be excommunicated by the Pope, or have a Crusade/Jihad called against you. Priests walk about converting populations, while inquisitors look for infidels and heretics and witches denounce your faith. Crusading Armies get bonuses to movement and can also recruit Religious Fanatics and other Crusader-specific unit types. Merchants can also move around the map, to tiles that have various goods on them. The further away your merchant moves, the greater the income from the goods he 'harvests'. He can also try and 'destroy' a rival merchant by contesting the tile of goods. Spys and Assasins serve the same function as they did previously.
    A cool addition to gameplay is the animation. While there may be 60 individuals in a unit, during combat they move individually. You can zoom in and watch fights between individual units. They exchange blows, usually with some one ending up dead. Swords actually stab through torsos. People armed with spears or pitchforks usually knock their foe to the ground, then lunge at them, finishing them off by stabiing them. When arrows hit a target and wound them, the target stumbles. Its a really cool feature that seems like it will be built upon in the Medieval Total War Kingdoms expansion that is in the works.

    Contexual Realism: 8/10
    Units, factions, and leaders generally follow historical events, but alliances etc do not. Beyond the startup and intro movie that suggests what to do, you're generally free to do as you will. Certain historical events are triggered on their historical date (discovery of gunpowder, etc) and the Mongol Invasion does occur too. With devasting effect, i might add. But for those more historically minded, you do have the option of playing over a dozen Historical Battles, such as Agincourt and Hastings.

    Sound: 8/10
    Good music once again, but nothing outstanding. During battles, you can hear men screaming and yelling orders ('Heave' is often heard when near the battering ram). Generals speak with accents based on what nation they are from, and give inspiring and often hillarious speeches before battle.

    Replay Value: 9/10
    Lots of factions to play, different methods of doing things, outcomes of battles determined by how you attack/defend result in countless outcomes in the game. Not to mention its extremely fun to play, you'll want to try out each faction at least once.

    Il Duce Factor: 9/10
    Who doesnt like the Middle Ages? Especially with the amazing graphics in MTW II. Nothing like watching bodies fly when a heavy cavalary unit hits the rear of some pesky archers. Or the one-on-one fights to the death. Great replayability factor and time period make this game a must.

    Overall Rating: 88/100
  3. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Sep 10, 2000
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    This Review includes the Doomsday Expansion to Hearts of Iron II.

    Pentium III 1.0 GHz or equivalent
    RAM: 256 MB
    Video Memory: 32 MB
    Hard Drive Space: 1000 MB
    Other: DirectX 9.0c-compliant video card

    Release Date: April 7, 2006

    Presentation/Pacakge: 8/10
    The typical PC Game case, along with an extensive manual. Menus allow the standard options along with starting the game during various dates/operations.

    Graphics: 16/20
    The Hearts of Iron series, much like the Europa Universalis Series, isnt a game about graphics. It spans the ENTIRE WORLD with individual territories and units are very general, just showing what time of unit it is and what nationality. However, in the Tech-Tree scren historical pictures represent each unit.

    Interface: 8/10
    Lots of options, production sliders, and tech-tree (not to mention all the diplomatic options) might seem overwhelming at first but are all easily accesible through a tab-like menu. Nothing fancy or otherwise outwardly confusing.

    Gameplay: 20/20
    This game is simply the BEST Strategic Game ever made. You cant call yourself a Wargamer if you dont own this game. Not only does it have an extensive, historical tech-tree, from Civilian Technology to Military Technology (along with Companies you assign the research to) it also allows you play as ANY COUNTRY THAT EXISTED DURING WORLD WAR II!! How awesome is that? Not to mention the ability to mod the game. As far as actual game play, where a real-time minute = 1 day in gametime, its pretty awesome. Units can be assigned to help defend or attack neighboring territories, Airforce can perform an assortment of tasks, and the Navy can too. Supplies are extremely important, along with terrain and weather. You need to make trade agreements with other countries in order to survive. You focus on upgrading military units or your industries. The diplomatic options are varied too: from assasinations, espionage, stealing technology to trading technology and forming alliances. There really isnt anything negative about this game.

    Contexual Realism: 9/10
    Why not a perfect score? Because like any game, anything can happen. You choose who to attack, what technology to research, etc. There are many events that are triggered historically, but they often allow you to pick between options. Certain events will always happen - the Spanish Civil War, Pearl Harbor, Operation Barbarossa, Poalnd - but their outcomes are not always historical. I witnessed the Republican Spain defeat Nationalist Spain, partially because the Nationalists didnt recieve outside help. I've also seen Japan conquer and annex China, before granting the Nationalist control over what we know as modern China. I've also seen the Germans wait until 1941 to attack the Low Lands and France.

    Sound: 9/10
    Great music! Epic sounding, almost historical too. Doesnt pause between load screen (to start game) and is continous.

    Replay Value: 10/10
    With hundreds of countries to play and so many different ways to go about 'conquering' the world, you could play this game 1,000 different times and still have new endings to it. Even Hearts of Iron (the first game) was amazing.

    Il Duce Factor: 10/10
    Simply put: WOW! I cant think of anything negative about this game. I cant think of a way for it to be even better, either. What? You DONT HAVE THIS GAME YET? Why are you still reading this? Go out and get it! Oh yeah - Mulitplayer? I havent had much of a chance to play, but i believe up to 8 people can play online. Even just playing with a friend makes this game awesome (Germany/Italy anyone?). Oh, and if you dont go out and get this game right now, our little friend will be coming to visit you. :panzerpenguin: (Thats just a warning!)

    Overall Score: 90/100
  4. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Sep 10, 2000
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    A Fantasy RPG. A game full of Eye Candy.


    Windows XP
    512MB System RAM
    2 Ghz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor
    128MB Direct3D compatible video card
    and DirectX 9.0 compatible driver;
    8x DVD-ROM drive
    4.6 GB free hard disk space
    DirectX 9.0c (included)
    DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card
    Keyboard, Mouse
    Release Date: March 20, 2006

    Presentation/Pacakge: 10/10
    It came with a map, and a coin! How cool is that? Oh yeah, a game manual came with it too.

    Graphics: 20/20
    Yeah, they are that good. If you've got a good graphics card, you'll see what you mean. Running the game on its lower settings just doesnt do justice to it. Light reflections off everything, scenery mirrored in lakes, trees swaying in the wind, grass, stones, armor and weapons, magic spells, everything! This game is simply amazing in its level of detail. Even customizing your characters look - the level of detail is awesome! The shadow effects are amazing too...its probably the best looking game for the PC i have ever seen.

    Interface: 8/10
    Simple to use. Easy to perfom actions. Lockpicking can be a pain in the ass, especially on hard locks. I'm still not sure how to work out Appraisail with its options/menu.

    Gameplay: 18/20
    Lots of Classes and Races allow you to build a character based on how you want to play the game. Whether you want to tbe a sneaky thief/assasin or a barabarian/warrior. The game world is expansive! Hundreds of 'dungeons' to explore, items to get, and cities to visit. Only load screens are when you enter a city or dungeon, though traveling the length of the game world (outside) would take 30 mins. Thank god for the fast-travel map option! You dont have to follow the main quest right away and there are numerous side quests you can go on that give you special items, money, and prestiege. You can also be arrested and spend time in jail for breaking the law! Some quests actually require you to be in jail (to get in contact with Thieves Guild, and at least one other quest). Very few bugs in the game - just dont dismount from your horse near a wall, as i found myself stuck in the wall until i mounted my horse again.

    Contexual Realism: 8/10
    Doesnt really apply to this game, since it is a Fantasy themed game. But combat is realistic - you can die rather easily if you're not careful and fatigue and stamina play a roll in everything too.

    Sound: 9/10
    Pretty good sound in this one, actually. Good voice acting and the music sounds on par with LOTR.

    Replay Value: 9/10
    Again, the races and classes allow you to play this game from many different angles. Certain classes are more adept at certain quests or guilds too, providing players with the oppurtunity to do just about everything at least once.

    Il Duce Factor: 8/10
    Like previously said, the graphics are amazingly good. Nothing like using swords and sorcery too, though a few minor bugs can be annoying (as mentioned before) but the general feel of the game is pretty good. Replaying the game as a different class can make some of the intro quests a little repetitive.

    Overall Rating: 90/100
  5. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Sep 10, 2000
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    Silent Storm. Fictional WWII.

    Published by: JoWooD Studios
    Release Date:
    Setting: WWII-Era / Fictional

    System Requirements:

    Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX® 9 .0 or higher
    CPU 600 MHz
    128 MB RAM
    3D graphics card, 32 MB RAM (nVidia GeForce2MX compatible or better)
    Sound card
    2.5 GB of free hard drive space plus about 500 MB for Windows swap file and save games

    10 Pts. Presentation/Package: 7/10
    Silent Storm comes in the standard, generic PC game case. The pictures on the front, on the game CDs, and on the little booklet that accompanies the game clearly sets the game in the WWII era. Nothing special in the package, but also nothing ‘ugly’.

    20 Pts. Graphics: 17/20
    At the time of release, these graphics were cutting edge. Even today, the graphics remain a very strong part of the game. The weapons, ammunition, and items your character is carrying can be easily seen in the Inventory Screen where a figure of your character also appears. There will be a lot of ammunition belts on your character if he is carrying lots of ammo; each type of grenade will also appear based on what your character is carrying too. The environment is fully destructible too, and each figure moves realistically and responds realistically to explosions/hits/etc.

    10 Pts. Interface: 9 / 10
    Very simple interface. In-game interface consists of a bottom bar that has tabs for all six soldiers under your command. Clicking on each tab brings up each soldier (and centers the camera on him/her) and reveals the Health, Action-Points, and currently equipped weapons. Another button allows you to view the stats in one window, and the inventory in another. To the right of the tabs is an area dealing with movement (Run, Walk, Kneel, Crawl), type of shot (varies per weapon/grenade), Sneak, and Attack.

    20 Pts. Gameplay: 17 / 20
    The Game is played in three places: the HQ, the World Map, and the Game Map. In the HQ, you outfit your unit with weapons, med-packs, etc and pick which five other soldiers you wish to take with you. When you click on LEAVE you are taken to the World Map (of Europe). Areas that you have unlocked (by finding clues during missions and accomplishing tasks) are highlighted in red. Clicking on such a location zooms the map onto the location and shows you which places you can go. A place marked with “?” means you haven’t visited that mission yet, while “!” marks a spot you have completed. Clicking on “?” will cause a yellow circle to move across the map. This is your unit. You can change its course to avoid or attack a random encounter (a red diamond with a helmet in it). These can often lead to rare items. Once at a “?” you can click on it, which will load the game map and combat will start.
    Combat is turn based. Each character has a certain amount of Action points to spend per turn. One with full AP can interrupt the AIs turn. You gain EXPERIENCE for killing the enemy and accomplishing the goals of each mission, which allows you to upgrade your soldier’s stats and abilities. You are also able to pick up any weapons and ammunition dead soldiers drop, or that can be found on the map.
    Cover plays an important role, but deteriorates over time. For instance, most weapons can shoot through thin walls to hit their target. Repeatedly doing so will eventually cause a hole to appear in the wall. Grenades, and other types of explosives, can blow holes in the floor, wall, and ceilings. It is not uncommon for a large explosion to blow open a floor and cause the soldiers standing above it to fall to their deaths.
    The character-models are also life like. They move in a life-like way (IE. When climbing up a ladder, they don’t ‘float’ up it, but rather grab each rung as they move). Deaths are also realistic. A killing shot to the right shoulder will cause the target to spin in that direction. A HE Grenade can evaporate an enemy in much the same manner, and due to explosions and physics, enemy bodies can fly through the air a short distance, fall off a roof, or collapse into a sitting position leaning against something.
    What makes this game a Fictional WWII setting is the Panzerkleins. Think of these as Mobile Armor Suits. They are the wonder-weapon of the game. Sight is limited when using one, as is movement and the sneak ability. However, a regular SMG will do little to no damage against one. An RPG or Panzerfaust, on the other hand, will. A Sniper is also able to kill the occupant of the PK while keeping the PK intact. PKs are armed with a variety of weapons, from HMG, Bea, Weapons, and Caitlin Guns. These weapons, while perhaps not as accurate, are far more powerful then any other weapon in the game. They can singled handedly demolish thick walls or bunched groups of enemies rather quickly. Their movement as also rather realistic.
    Overall, this is an extremely fun game to play, though having a grenade not go where it is supposed to can be very frustrating, but if the soldier isn’t skilled in Grenades, it is to be expected.

    10 Pts. Contextual Realism: 8 / 10
    The Weapons and Background of the game are set during WWII. The story introduces a Third Party to the War, who kidnap scientists from both sides, to make this ‘super weapon’ – the PanzerKleins. Your mission (whether Allies or Axis) is to find out who is kidnapping the scientists and why. Obviously, the PanzerKleins are a fictional weapon. The game also includes some German ‘wonder-weapons’ that really only existed as ideas on paper in real life. However, the PK’s aren’t ‘super-weapons’ that cant be defeated, which enables them to be integrated with the game rather smoothly. But again, if you are looking for a purely WWII-historical game, this might not cut it for you.

    10 Pts. SOUND: Music/Sound FX / Voice Acting: 7/10
    The accents, for the most part are very fitting. Everyone speaks English, though you can tell if they are German, British, Italian, etc. The music is also very fitting for the game and works rather well.

    10 Pts. Lasting Appeal/Replay Value: 7 / 10
    Due to the %-value given to each shot, it is possible that each time you play, the outcomes of the battles will be different. Another factor is gathering clues – some clues are hard to find – which unlock other levels. It is possible to play this game going to the missions in a different order every time. Also, there is a huge difference between playing as the Allies as opposed to the Axis, though the end goal is still the same. The game also has a multiplayer aspect (so far untried by the reviewer) which can extend the game-play indefinitely.

    10 Pts. The ‘Il Duce’ Factor: 8/10
    Great overall game, can be played with almost any combination of players, different order in which to do the missions, and great visuals.
    Great graphics, easy-to-learn Gameplay, intense moments.
    Movement Paths can be annoying, Characters aren’t the smartest and will accidentally shoot each other or explosive barrels (esp. when standing next to them), a small number of glitches.

    Final Score: 80/100 This game is one worthy of play. While not a 100% historical WWII game, it does add to the fun factor with the PanzerKleins. It is also one of the first games with completely destructible environments, which also adds another element to game play. Character models are also rather lifelike, and there is a MultiPlayer element to the game too.

    Arming of German Soldiers in German Base - Video of SilentStorm - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Map Movement and Random Encounter - Video of SilentStormCombat - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
  6. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Sep 10, 2000
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    World War II FPS at its Best.

    Published By:
    Release Date: October 29, 2003 (UO: September, 2004)
    Setting: World War II - Historical

    System Requirements:
    • 3D hardware accelerator card required - 100% DirectX 9.0b compatible 32MB hardware T&L-capable video card and latest drivers*
    • English version of Microsoft Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
    • Pentium III 600MHz or Athlon 600MHz processor or higher for systems with Windows 98/ME
    • Pentium III 700MHz or Athlon 700MHz processor or higher for systems with Windows 2000/XP
    • 128MB RAM
    • 8x speed CD-ROM drive (1200KB/sec sustained transfer rate) and latest drivers
    • 1.4GB of uncompressed free hard disk space (plus 400MB for Windows 98/ME swap file, 600MB for Windows 2000/XP swap file)
    • 100% DirectX 9.0b compatible 16-bit sound card and latest drivers
    • 100% Windows 98/ME/2000/XP compatible mouse, keyboard and latest drivers
    • DirectX 9.0b (included)
    Presentation/Package: 8/10
    Truly nothing spectacular about the package it comes in. The cover art is pretty interesting looking - hand drawn action shots that set the mood for the game. The Menu's are very simple, with great background images. Load screens often inform you about your mission and what can be expected.

    Graphics: 18/20
    Call of Duty uses the Quake III: Team Arena Graphics Engine. Explosions, Gun Models, Shell Casings, Grenades, and Player Models are all extremely well done, even by todays standards. Map locations are often very good looking too, with horizons that make the map look like it extends indefinitely. The graphics dont make you think you're playing a game thats a few years old, but at the same time they aren't cutting edge (anymore).

    Interface: 10/10
    The compass rotates with the movement of the player. Objectives appear as Gold Stars on the Compass, and a White Arrow points you in the direction you need to go. A health bar shows you how much health you have left, while when you change weapons a 'ghost' bar on the top appears showing you what other weapons you have. Also keeps track of what mode of fire you are in, stance, and how much ammunition you have left for currently equipped weapon. Choosing teams, weapons, and looking at the Map is easily done through the main screen with tabs.

    Gameplay: 20/20
    Singe Player Campaigns (American, British, and Soviet) can see some extremely intense moments! Like crossing the Vulga under German Attack, with tons of Soviet infantry rushing to their deaths. Artillery barrages shake the screen, exploding grenades shock the player, combat can be intense! And thats just SinglePlayer! Multiplayer is definately the crown jewel of the game. 4+ Years later and there are easily 300 people playing the game at most times of the day. One of the best MP FPS I have ever played!

    Contextual Realism: 10/10
    Its a historical WWII Game and lives up to it! The campaigns follow specific units of each country, each with characters that have their own stories, fighting historically accurate battles in the game. Locations are well done and you really get a feel for the time period.

    Sound: 8/10
    Voice Acting could be a little better, but the music is perfect for the game and the SFX is also pretty accurate! The Ping of the Garand clip ejecting is realistic, as is the distinctive sounds of each weapon and incoming Artillery.

    Lasting Appeal/Replay Value: 10/10
    I still play MP and have started up the SP Campaigns again, and the game has been out for over 4 Years now. Its an extremely fun game, competition online is just awesome, and not enough good stuff can be said about this game.

    Il Duce's Factor: 10/10
    Are you a FPS fan? Are you a WWII fan? Do you have the game? If you answered YES to the first two questions and NO to the third question, then you clearly aren't what you said you are. Not only did the game win over 80 Game Of the Years Awards world-wide, but it is clearly a milestone in FPS History. Its sequels dont quite live up to the awesomeness of the Original. If you don't have this game, you're no friend of mine!

    Final Score: 94/100
    A fantastic achievement with only minor flaws or imperfections. If a game scores a 90 or better you know it's a great title with just enough imperfections to let you know they're for real. Games of this caliber are considered must-haves.
  7. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Sep 10, 2000
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    Call of Duty: World At War Review

    Processor: AMD 64 3200+/Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz or better
    Memory: 512MB RAM (XP)/1GB RAM (VISTA)
    8 GB free hard drive space
    Graphics: 256MB Nvidia Geforce 6600GT/ATI Radeon 1600XT or betterShader 3.0 or better

    Release Date:
    Nov 28, 2008

    Presentation/Pacakge: 7/10
    Your typical PC Game Box. Decent cover art. The included booklet is pretty skimpy and uninformative - barely worth the paper it is printed on.

    Graphics: 8/10
    The Graphics are very much the same as the last Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game. That is to say, they are spectacular, between the textures and lighting effects. Gun models are rather accurate and the scenary is much more diverse then in previous games. The camo design of snipers is also ingenious and looks rather good. The water effects are neat too, splashing up around bullets fired into the water.

    Interface: 7/10
    The Menus are your typical Call of Duty Menus and are thus easy to navigate. My only qualm with navigating is between Single Player and Multi-Player. To play the Zombie Mod or Co-Op, you have to return to the Single Player Mode (despite it being with Multiple Players) while to play TDM etc you have to cycle back to the Multiplayer Mode.

    I am split on the gameplay. More directly, I greatly dislike the fact that Treyarch changed something that did not need to be changed and has thus created a lot of problems and diminished the Call of Duty experience. They also brought back there 'Toss Grenade Back' button and it is still greatly flawed.

    Contexual Realism: 6.5/10
    Set during World War II, the game mimics some real life instances and at times (especially as the Soviets) gives you the impression how deadly combat in cities was. Locations are historic, units are historic, and some battles are historic, so it does rather well in that sense. However, the fire rate and range of most of the non-rifle weapons is greatly exaggerated - for instance, a Thompson SMG can snipe across the map better then a Rifle can, and the PPSH rate of fire is far greater then its real-life existance - greatly reduces the realism of the game, along with the Tanks. The tanks have an almost random assortment of extra armor on them that has to be blown off before they can blow up.

    Sound: 7/10
    The sound isn't mind blowing, and the guns sounds relatively realisitic. The 'voices' in the Asylum are a cool touch -both in the Zombie Mode and the regular MP- making the game a little creepy.

    Replay Value: 10/10
    The Replay Value of this game is high - countless hours can be spent playing Multi Player and with the release of Map Macking tools, there are countless new maps to play all game modes on.

    Il Duce Factor:

    Overall Rating:
  8. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru WW2|ORG Editor

    Sep 10, 2000
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    Hearts of Iron 4: A World War II-based Real Time Strategy Game
    Victory is at your fingertips! Your ability to lead your nation is your supreme weapon, the strategy game Hearts of Iron IV lets you take command of any nation in World War II; the most engaging conflict in world history.

    From the heart of the battlefield to the command center, you will guide your nation to glory and wage war, negotiate or invade. You hold the power to tip the very balance of WWII.

    It is time to show your ability as the greatest military leader in the world. Will you relive or change history? Will you change the fate of the world by achieving victory at all costs?

    Main Features:
    -Total strategic war: War is not only won on land, sea and in the air. It’s also achieved in the hearts and minds of men and women.
    -Authentic real-time war simulation: Let the greatest commanders of WW2 fight your war with the tools of the time; tanks, planes, ships, guns and newly discovered weapons of mass destruction.
    -Assume control of any nation: Choose from the greatest powers striving for victory, or the small nations trying to weather the storm.
    -Turn the world into your battlefield: Experience the full WWII timespan in a topographical map complete with seasons, weather and terrain. Snow, mud, storms can be both your strong ally and a ruthless enemy.
    -Negotiate or force your will: Experience the advanced politics and diplomacy systems, form factions, engage in trade for resources and appoint ministers to your party.
    -Intense Online Combat: Battle in both competitive and cooperative multiplayer for up to 32 players. Featuring cross-platform multiplayer.
    Give your nation a unique edge: Experience the flexible technology system, where all major powers get their own unique identity. Develop detailed historic tanks and planes through research and army experience.

    OS: Windows 7 64-bit or newer
    Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 @ 2.66 GHz / AMD Athlon II X4 650 @ 3.20 GHz
    Memory: 4 GB RAM
    Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5850 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX470 with 1GB VRAM
    DirectX: Version 9.0c
    Storage: 2 GB available space
    Sound Card: Direct X- compatible soundcard.
    Additional Notes: Mouse and keyboard are required. / Latest available WHQL drivers from both manufacturers/ Internet Connection or LAN for multiplayer, Up to 32 other players in multiplayer mode.

    The Review

    18 / 20 pts - Graphics
    The Graphics, as you can even tell from the trailer, are actually quite good and detailed.

    The color scheme is great. It used to only exist when viewing the political map mode. Now, it fills in the further you zoom out, and fades away as you zoom in - other than around the country borders, at which point the colors remain solid to make it much easier to identify front lines etc.

    The Sprites are nice I suppose if you like them, with future content packs that will add more variety to the game.

    I really like the images created for the production screen and technology tabs for each type of unit, with accurate drawn pictures of each type of plane/ship and unit type. This is 'stolen' from Black ICE, who added in colored pictures of units/planes/etc in their HOI 3 mod. Still, its appreciated even if the technology is rather bland and simple.

    While not the sort of game you play for the graphics, they are greatly improved in this version of HOI.
    7 / 10 pts - Interface
    The Interface is quite simple, though colorful. The loading screen when launching the game is quite quick compared to previous version, and the art displayed is quite pleasant.
    Everything in game is relatively easy to find and click on, though there is not much in-depth information due to the fallacies of the game. It took me 30 minutes to figure out how to do a Naval Invasion!
    Modders have already made a mod that adds the historical Nazi Flag to the game - which I do use - while another has made a mod that colors the buttons. I have not tried this yet but think the buttons do need some color to better identify them! I often find myself clicking on 2 - 3 of them before I get to the right screen.

    10 / 20 pts – Gameplay
    In a nutshell, I think that Paradox has made this game with $$ in mind for future DLC - 2 years to produce a game with not a lot in it makes me wonder how much they removed before launch to then re-sell to us as DLC down the line. I also think this game is geared towards 12-year-olds who want to play as Hitler and conquer the world! The game mechanics are so simple across the board, with only the Air Force being confusing and tricky to figure out compared to previous versions. A brief rundown of what I find to be wrong with the game:

    Transport Ships - They no longer exist. To transport troops across oceans, you need to have the correct amount of surplus Convoys to do so. This is part of the reason it took me 30 minutes to figure out how to do a naval invasion. You also have to have your Navy patrolling every sea-zone between launch-port and invasion beach, otherwise your troops will refuse to invade (even if you are the USA invading Venezula who has no navy!).

    Trade - There are no Trade deals anymore. If you have Civilian Factories, you use them (IE. Trading 1 Civilian Factory gets you 6 oil in return) for trade. You select the country and the resource you want. No notifications - no option as a country to stop trading with another country. Yes, trading in HOI 3 could be a pain at times, but if a country hates you they aren't going to want to trade with you.

    Politics - I honestly don't see its point in this version of Hearts of Iron. All major countries start as virtually 100% whatever their ruling party is, while most other countries are simple 'unaligned' governments. I am not sure what that even means. It also only takes one minister to change your entire countries ideology. So its very easy to go Communist or Fascist as a Democratic nation. You do get to decide if you want a bloody civil war or a peaceful switch when the time comes. The new-name of the country...I feel like a 3 year old created them (Empire of the Platypus in Australia, anyone?). Also, in a Democratic country, when an election is held, it doesn't matter if the majority of the country is Democratic or Republican - you get to decide which side wins the election.

    Espionage - There is none. So in a war where espionage was a relatively important and present thing, how is it not included in a WW2 game?

    Factions - The National Focus trees do allow you, at a certain time with a certain government type, to create your own faction. I haven't seen the need to do so as all the major players end up in the usual three, but it is a nice addition to the game (thinking ahead to Multiplayer games here).

    Combat - Mostly AI controlled from what I have played so far. They don't even have individual province names anymore, or an OOB. You basically stick 24 units into an Army Group who you then assign a general to...he has no subordinates or anything. If the guy is only a general, then you can promote him to 'Field Marshal' but that is the extent of it. It is nice being able to draw a battleplan, let your troops prepare for it, and then carry it out - on occasion (having only really played as Greece) do you have to go in and give some manual orders, but generally I feel like this game is meant to be played zoomed-out to a medium level, while in Black ICE you literally have to micromanage your battles while zoomed in to the max to see the terrain types etc.

    Production - One of the few goods things in the game! The images at the end of this post will display what I am about to tell you:
    -There are two types of factories in the game. Civilian and Military. Civilian factories are used to produce consumer goods and are used up in trades. They are also used to build military factories, oil refineries, infrastructure, radar, AA Guns, Coastal/Land Fortifications. Civilian factories can be converted into Military factories and vice versa. It usually takes 15 Civilian factories to be at 100% production value/speed of a new building.
    -Military factories are what produce your military equipment, planes and tanks. Naval Ports do the same for your navy. You can change what you produce, but if you have 10 factories making Small Arms and switch them to Tanks, they take a hit in efficiency and have to start building it back up. However, if you are producing Small Arms 1 and upgrade to Small Arms 2, you take only a minor hit as those factories dont have to change all that much so your efficiency stays high.
    -All materials go into the Logistics. Units that are training consume these materials as do new troops you deploy to the battlefield.
    So yeah, production is kinda fun.

    Manpower - Manpower, as far as I can tell, is only used in the creation of new units. I could be wrong, but casualties in battle do not seem to draw your manpower down. Its also hard to grow your manpower - changing your draft-type increases the population available, but it does not grow every year like in previous games.

    The AI - The AI is...I don't know...terrible? The decisions it makes are questionable at best. It also seems that if the AI is attacking in one direction, it gets tunnel vision and doesn't see what else is going on. If you look at Image 1 in the Spoilers below, you may see that my Fascist Greece owns Sicily and Northern Italy and Yugoslavia/Hungary. A series of events, namely Greece attacking Albania (who Italy guaranteed the independence of) drew the Axis into a war with Italy. Italy basically sent all its units to attack Austria. Germany would send/withdraw units to the front periodically, allowing Austria to eventually lose half its territory to Italy. At the same time, a combined German/Greek naval invasion of Sicily started to occur. The 30 - 40 combined divisions perhaps face 5 - 10 Italian divisions as they marched up the boot of Italy. The 20 - 30 Italian divisions on the Austrian front, virtually outside of Munich, did nothing to try to protect their capital. Once Rome was taken by the Greeks, the Germ-Greek units marched into Northern Italy still facing minimal resistance despite the 20 - 30 Italians a few provinces further to the North. The last VPs of Italy were captured and they capitulated, having virtually put up no fight. This allowed Greece (me) to claim Norther Italy, Sicily, Somalialand and Eritea from the Italians (World Power Status FTW!). Ethiopia and Libya both gained independence from Italy and became puppets of Germany as part of the peace deal (and the Italians - what remained of them - joined the Axis).

    So yeah, that sums up the AI pretty well and their inability to put much of a fight. I've also seen the Italians take most of Africa from the British...Egypt et al...yet lose Rome to a naval invasion by the UK at the same time. Go figure!
    10 / 20 pts – Contextual Realism
    This is a tricky one. While the game is set during World War II (start date of 1936, end date of 1948), I've found that it is anything but historical as it plays out. It is extremely easy to turn your country of choice to any of the three major alliances (re: Political Parties) - Fascist, Communist, Democratic - with very little, if any, penalties for doing so.

    The AI only has a certain percentage chance of selecting the historical outcome of an event - so far, in the few games I have played, I have seen Republican Spain with the SCW 75%, while France DOW's Germany over the Re-militarization of the Rhineland 50% of the time I have played. This action by the French especially sends the game spiraling out of control, often with Poland joining the Axis!

    At best, this game can only be viewed as a fictional game set during a specific, real-world time period with very little historical accuracy to it. I would imagine a group multiplayer game, with 6 - 8 people, who all play historical, is about the only way to have a historical run-through of this game.

    10 / 10 pts – Sound: Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    The Musical Score (YouTube Link) is perhaps the greatest thing about this game. Beyond the main menu theme, there are three distinct musical scores in the game. The first is 'radio music' that you will hear as any of the Allied Nations, drawing you back to the 1930's/1940's with 'pop' music played on the radio. The next, like the first link in this section, is the Axis Score, played while you play as a Faction in the Axis while the last score is - you guessed it! - a Comintern Themed Score for the Comintern Faction!

    The typical sound effects can be heard throughout the game as well, from artillery to small arms fire, to engines and naval whistles.

    While I am not sure of the quality (at the time of this posting) of this link here, it should take you to the full soundtrack from the game - something I think even non-gamers will enjoy listening to!

    5 / 10 pts - Lasting Appeal/Replay Value
    I am once again split on the score to give to the game in this category. On the one hand, it has an almost infinite amount of replayability due to the all the crazy stuff that can happen, along with the sheer amout of playable countries in the game (ANY Country on the map is playable).

    At the same time, so much content has been removed (compared to HOI 3) with so many fatal flaws in the game, a complete lack of immersion, etc etc, which all makes me want to go back to playing HOI 3 Black ICE instead.

    6 / 10 pts – TILT: Reviewer Wildcard
    So....a beautiful looking game that has been dummed down for newbies, ignoring all the cries from the usual Armchair Generals who play the game. As challenging as HOI 3 Black ICE is (and understandably overwhelming for a new player) there is no excuse to make an Arcade Strategy game. Half of the fun in previous HOI games is organizing your military, assigning your generals, and making tough decisions - both in foreign policy/historical events that pop up and in what direction to research as you can't research everything (but you can in HOI 4 - Nationalist Spain with Nukes anyone? Yeah, very possible, even before the USA gets them!). They are certainly trying to appeal to the general masses and I fear they will release DLC to squeeze even more money out of people, DLC that should have been included in the base game. Still, it is a Hearts of Iron game and despite having more shortcomings than positives, there are already several mods underway (including Black ICE) that seek to make the game a whole lot better and more enjoyable! At least I can listen to the music with enjoyment for hours on end.

    Final Score: 66 / 100

    Open the Spoiler to reveal some images:

    Image 1: The Load Screen, revealing the vivid colors of the map. And also the craziness of the game I am currently playing. I will let you view the map and draw your own conclusions!
    Image 2: Some fighting around Belgium/Holand. I greatly dislike the Sprites and how small the Nato Counters are - especially when compared to HOI 3.
    Image 4 - 9 show what happens when you click on the various buttons you see on the top of the screen, taking you to the various screens. The production mechanic is interesting while the Technology (not pictured) is quite bland and generic. Who knew that the difference between an SS Mechanized and a regular Mechanized Unit was just in the name!
    It seems that Photobucket Links do not work here, so here is a link to the Album containing the images: Album Link
    McCabe and Otto like this.

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