Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi

Review

posted 8/10/2010 by Tom Bitterman
other articles by Tom Bitterman
One Page Platforms: PC
Another change is the ability to allow AI HQs to auto-reorganize.  One of the first things HOI3 players would do was reorganize all the units into command hierarchies that made sense.  It is now possible to tell the AI to reorganize itself.  This saves a lot of time and aggravation.  On the other hand, it looked like some of my units were reorganizing every other day.  It didn't effect play that I could tell, but did not raise my confidence level in this feature.  Even with this change the new Command Hierarchy Browser and Visible Command Hierarchy features indicate that Paradox is not entirely comfortable with the way command hierarchies work.

Another change allows to player to manually define a theater.  HOI3 defined theaters for the player.  For example, the U. S. might have a European and a Pacific theater.  Again, the AI fell down on the job, often defining theaters that had no connection with what was actually going on.  Semper Fi allows the user to define their own theaters.  Again, this is a feature to correct an AI failure.


There are a few new things that add to play, rather than fix underlying problems.  The player can now set air and naval stances separately from land units.  For example, Britain could set land units to be defensive, while air units could be attacking.  This is bolstered by the addition of Air and Naval map modes.  These modes show, on the main map, things like AA batteries and air strips along with more abstract ideas such as areas covered by air superiority orders.

Other new features add color.  One might build enough ships to have the "Grand Fleet" Strategic Event fire.  This would give your nation a bonus to ship-related activities.  Strategic Events provide nice ways to reflect the consequences of actions (yay! I own the Strait of Taiwan) that otherwise wouldn't be reflected in the engine (now I can move supplies more efficiently).

Also nice are the Historical Battle Effects.  Even though your war will be rather different than the real war, certain events are likely to occur in similar manners in both.  The Germans may end up besieging Stalingrad in your game, for example.  It is a rather natural thing for a German player invading Russia to do.  When this happens some flavor text will appear on the screen describing the real battle.  It can be fun to see these pop up and then do better than the historical analogue.


HOI3 was built for hard-core grand strategy war gamers.  It stands alone at the top of the heap for breadth, depth and detail.  Semper Fi does not change this.  Instead, it attempts to fix some of the more obvious flaws by modifying how a troublesome AI controls things.  This expansion is worth it for fans of the original - some of the problems it fixes really needed fixing and were beyond the reach of a mod.  Those who were not interested in the original game will find nothing here to change their minds.

This reviewer must admit to feeling bad for being so tough on Semper Fi - he likes the game.  However, it wouldn't be fair to (both my) readers to allow personal fondness for a game to overrule objective judgment.  Paradox is onto something here.  It just isn't ready yet.


* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

C
How do you expand a game that already has everything? In this case, by trying to fix its problems. Unfortunately, it looks like HOI3's issues go deeper than a patch can address. Like a true marine, Semper Fi got a thankless job.


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