Not only is the game more approachable thanks to the interface, but the fewer number of units to worry about makes it easier to play as well. Engagements are more likely between two divisions or two corps (units of three divisions) than of large armies.
Reinforcement and upgrades are now abstracted. Instead of having to individually reinforce units and queue them for upgrading, the player simply allocates ICs (industrial credits) to the reinforcement and upgrade sliders. Units are then upgraded in relatively random order, though the player can choose which are prioritized.
The wars are also initially more limited. Germany is highly aggressive but it won't necessarily take Austria and the Czechs first. Often, it chooses to go after Denmark, Belgium or Holland. The Allied nations are surprisingly tolerant of this behavior initially, but this is all part of the Belligerence system. Democratic nations are loathe to declare war unless they absolutely must, thus Germany has to acquire a very high belligerence rating in order to be attacked, but it will be sooner or later.
Diplomacy, trade and politics are far less rigid now as well. Poland is free to join the Axis and the United States can join the Comintern. Neither of these events is likely, but surprise events do happen. In one game, Germany was doing particularly badly against the Allies and, as Poland, I swept in along the East, captured many key provinces including Berlin and Germany was partitioned by all three states.
Given that this was only 1940 by the time the war ended and Italy and Japan were both behaving, I decided to see what a war of the Allies against the Soviet Union would look like. Things progressed surprisingly well considering how under-powered Poland is, especially taking on the main brunt of the Soviet attack. In fact, by late 1941 the Soviets had lost several large armies in encirclements by the British and French to the North and South, respectively, and the country looked like it would collapse as soon as hostilities re-started in the spring.
Imagine my surprise when the Czechs, of all people, joined the war on the Soviet side and quickly rolled up unopposed into French Munich, Polish Berlin and Warsaw itself! Perhaps they felt threatened by all the garrison divisions needed to keep the German populace in line, because their internal politics did not show a shift to a Stalinist doctrine. Whatever the reason for dirty Czech treachery, it quickly ended that particular game. Next time, I'll remember to grind Prague into dust first, before moving on to the Soviets. As you can see, this freedom of action can produce bizarre results but overall it does improve the game.
Paradox has included a variety of set scenarios, in addition to various campaign start years. These generally restrict the map and don't deal with issues like production, technology and unit building. Units usually come as pre-scripted reinforcements. There is a rather bewildering array of scenarios available, like the Ardennes Offensive, North Africa, and some more obscure scenarios like the Winter War between Finland and the USSR or the Spanish Civil War. Several "what if" scenarios also appear, such as Fall Grün - the planned invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938 if it didn't comply with the terms of the Munich Accord.
The number of provinces has increased dramatically, as is evidenced by the map, splitting the player's forces even further but making encirclements a little more likely to carry out, especially in the wide open steppes of of Russia.
Paradox has also limited the mobility of air fleets. They can now only reside are pre-built air bases. The player can always build new ones, but this of course takes time.
All in all, Hearts of Iron 2 looks to be about the most approachable strategy game from Paradox that still has hardcore appeal. Given enough time for balance and polish, it could be a real winner.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!
Mass Effect 3 PC Demo Impressions Mass Effect 3, EA/BioWare's third iteration in their series of sci-fi action RPGs and one of the most anticipated titles of the year, is fast approaching its March 6th release. This week, though, they released a playable demo on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 that offers a glimpse into both the single-player and multi-player portions of the full game.
Whether you're waiting impatiently for your download to finish or don't have the time to check it out yourself, go ahead and read some impressions of the demo from resident FSers Synch and Vandy in today's article!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Review
The self-appointed "most anticipated game in history" launched worldwide this past Tuesday. Why, it's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, of course (of course), what else? Unsurprisingly, the military FPS debate between this and Battlefield 3 rages on, but now that both have been released, surely we can take a look and objectively evaluate them both? Luke's taken the Xbox version of MW3 for a spin this week, so to find out what he thinks of it in today's review!