Hearts of Iron II

Review

posted 2/1/2005 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC
Diplomacy is handled through a rather complex system as well. Each country in the world has some, however small, influence on every other country. From a thankfully easy-to-navigate diplomacy screen, countries can carry out all sort of diplomatic actions. Every thing from offering tribute and smoothing over relations to demanding surrender and declaring all out war is done with a simple click. Alliances seem fairly difficult to break, however. Don’t expect to see Germany having a change of heart and joining the Allies any time soon.

The success of diplomatic actions, like most everything in the game, relies in part on the abilities of officials in charge. No one can run a country alone, so each country is given a cabinet to fill with talented individuals. Each country has a large pool of cabinet members to choose from, and each member gives certain bonuses (and sometimes penalties) to their appointed field. Of course, there are trade-offs for each cabinet member, so those who are particularly good at increasing the moral of the troops may not have a very good head for logistics.

The biggest change I noticed in HoI2 is the combat engine. Land troops no longer move in to a province before attacking, they initiate attacks from the borders. This means fewer headaches while coordinating units to all arrive at the same province at the same time. In addition, troops may now lend assistance to attacks or defense of neighboring provinces, without becoming directly involved in combat. I found that I liked this new combat style a bit more than the original, but I also found it difficult to quickly determine where battles were being fought. The “in combat” graphics for the ground units are a bit difficult to differentiate from the “at rest” graphics. In addition, I couldn’t tell exactly which neighboring province was attacking or being attacked. A quick click on the unit gives this information, but I was hoping for something a little more obvious. When there are 20 or so provinces on the battle line, clicking on each individual unit to see exactly what it’s up to is just annoying. Especially if the clock is running.

Air and naval combat has also been improved. These units now can be ordered to carry out specific missions, such as strategic bombing of infrastructure, ground attacks, or air superiority. In addition, orders can be given for extended periods of time. For instance, an attack wing can be ordered to maintain air superiority for a week, retreating if sustaining a 30% loss. Air units can also be given delay orders, so their missions can be better coordinated with the slower-moving ground troops. Convoys are a bit easier to handle this time around as well, but I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of these. I tend to stick to less seafaring countries.

Graphics and sound are relatively unchanged from HoI. Expect clean, simple 2D graphics and a very sparing use of sound. With a huge selection of units, there aren’t enough graphics to cover them all, which can be a little annoying when trying to find a particular troop. The music is good, but the game could easily be played muted with a favorite CD playing in the background. Once again, Paradox concentrates on gameplay rather than on flashy presentation.
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