Engrossing 'what if?' look at WWII
The first Hearts of Iron was a pretty solid stab at a broad-scale WWII strategy game which was interesting because it didn't focus on the battles but on the global tactical aspect, requiring management of resources in a way not normally used in such games. This sequel expands on the game, retaining its predecessor's similarity to Europa Universalis but improving on most of the minor flaws which marred the first game. Once again, this one focuses on the grand scheme of things in WWII, giving you control of one of over 175 countries involved in the conflict. You have to manage heaps of things, such as production, research, diplomacy, supply and infrastructure during the course of the war, and although there is a pretty steep learning curve thanks to the sheer volume of detail here, it is satisfying and engrossing taking it all in. You can just play through an open game but there are also scenarios to try, focusing on specific battles from the conflict, and are a good way to start learning things, as they walk you through the basics but without overburdening you with details and options. Most of the major characters from the war are also included, as well as plenty of background info, making this a treat for history buffs. Although the level of detail might put the casual player off, if you are into complex strategy games that really make you think, then there is much to enjoy here. The interface can seem overwhelming at first, unless you've played the first game, but stick with it and you'll soon find a rewarding, thought-provoking game that will keep you hooked.