reviews\ Aug 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Hearts of Iron 3: Semper Fi review


Launched last year, Hearts of Iron III was the latest title in Paradox’s WWII strategy franchise, offering up some deep strategy elements for die-hard gridheads with an interest in World War II. Now, Paradox has launched the first official expansion to the game, Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi.

Offering modest improvements to the base game, Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi feels less like a fully-fledged expansion than it does as if were a big patch. The expansion throws in some fine new features, including vastly improved AI and some new missions, but there’s nothing groundbreaking or game-changing here.

The selling points for the game include improved AI that acts more realistically and adaptive than before, hidden victory conditions, an in-game year’s worth of new missions and events, and a host of other smaller changes. The game’s AI is noticeably better than it was in the base game, and no longer does frustrating moves like unit stacking while still acting logically to the moves that you make. This makes playing the game a lot less frustrating while giving you an opportunity to actually exercise some strategy instead of reacting to the once cheap AI.

Another welcome addition grants you special perks depending on how you play. These effects basically give you specific boosts for your military based off of how you build it up. These upgrades will give you new units and special stat improvements according to your focus, which is a great element to add to the formula. There are even negative strategic effects, improving development in one area while making certain elements more difficult.

Semper Fi also brings on board changes to the interface, including the aesthetics that make commanding your operation much easier. A new system shows which of your headquarters are running certain parts of your operation, making the game much more intuitive and easy to play. This is another way that Semper Fi improves on one of the more frustrating elements of the base game.

Semper Fi doesn’t bring in anything new to the game graphically, meaning that you’re still getting a fairly run-of-the-mill looking tabletop-inspired strategy game with 2D units and battlefields cut up into grids.

Considering that the expansion will run you a cool 20 bucks, it’s a tough sell even if you were a big fan of the original game. The tweaks and changes are definitely appreciated, but there’s really nothing here that couldn’t have been done in a patch to improve the base game. The changes are a big improvement, but there’s really not enough extra content here to warrant a purchase from most.


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