Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi PC
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: Paradox Interactive
The learning curve in games such as Hearts of Iron III can be monstrous. In fairness to Hearts of Iron III, the complexity was slightly less than in the previous games in the series. You could offload much of the workload onto the AI, confident that it would do a pretty good job of things while you got to grips with particular aspects of the game. Whilst it was still a very complex game to get to grips with, it was by far the most accessible game in the series in addition to being the most impressive. Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi not only manages to make Hearts of Iron III a better experience, it also makes it even more accessible than before.
The first new feature is Semper Fi is the ability to set victory conditions, provided you play as one of the three great faction leaders (US, Germany or USSR). It’s possible to circumvent this restriction by first selecting one of the main three factions, selecting the victory conditions and then changing your choice of faction/nation to control. This does make a mockery of the restriction and it’s strange that the game manual mentions that this can be done. You’ll get to pick fifteen victory conditions from a total of around twenty-two and the first to complete twelve of the fifteen will win the game. The ability to tweak the victory conditions may not be a major thing but it helps to freshen up the experience.
Supply is one of those considerations which can make games such as Hearts of Iron III feel a little too complex. Semper Fi now offers what it calls an ‘Arcade Mode.’ Prior to starting a new game you can choose whether to play a Normal or Arcade game (this is completely separate from the difficulty level) and choosing Arcade mode will mean that units draw fuel and supplies directly from the national stockpile meaning you don’t have to concern yourself with creating lines of supply. Personally I find this an excellent inclusion as dedicated wargamers can simply ignore this layer of simplification whilst those who are attempting to get to grips with the game can have the supply automatically dished out while they focus on other game elements. If having supply automatically dished out isn’t for you, you’ll be pleased to learn that convoys can now be setup between ports in the same map area as your capital province as long as they are more than ten provinces apart from the capital province.
Separate stances can now be set for your air, naval and land forces. It’s possible to set two forces as passive and the other as aggressive. This may not seem like a big thing but it gives you greater flexibility over the control of your forces which has to be a good thing. A withdraw stance has also been added and this allows you to gradually pull back your forces from the front which can of course be something that can be employed to tactical advantage in specific circumstances.
There are many other useful additions too, including the ability to define your own theatres, that is to say the area of operations, simply by dragging a box around the provinces that you wish to include in your theatre. Previously these theatres were automatically generated so it’s great to finally have control over where your theatres are at last. A new command hierarchy browser allows you to see at a glance the state of affairs and to make changes too. There have been a collection of improvements made to the AI too. Your allied AI nations will no longer simply send support forces to help you without you asking them to do so. AI allies will treat your requests as a priority but they will also put their needs first now. Two new map modes, air and naval, have been included to show air bases, air engagements, recent bombings, naval bases, recent naval engagements and the area covered by your raid, escort and patrol orders. Other new additions include Strategic Effects, the ability to upgrade brigades, hundreds of new historical events that have been added, tech sharing and many other tweaks and adjustments that help to make Semper Fi a better and more enjoyable game.
Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi is an essential purchase for all who have played and appreciated what Hearts of Iron III had to offer. It’s an expansion that manages to both make the game more accessible and also to add depth, making the game both more appealing to those who want to streamline the micromanagement and also to those who want to add even further depth to the experience. Graphically and in regards to its suitability for deaf gamers there is no change but that’s hardly surprising given that this is an expansion aimed at adding content and usability rather than the presentation of the game itself. In short then, Semper Fi puts the icing on the Hearts of Iron III cake.