Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
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  1. HOI3 has a steep learning curve and it will be a struggle at first, but once you've got it all under control you can have some serious fun.
  2. 90
    Hearts of Iron 3 follows the previous installments becoming the current most complete war game.
  3. Reduced micromanagement and streamlined automation make Hearts of Iron III an absorbing game of grand strategy.
  4. 85
    The depth of information and modeling in this game is as comprehensive as we've ever seen and it holds rich rewards for players who are willing to make the considerable investment into learning how to play.
  5. One thing’s for certain though, this game is huge.
  6. Hearts of Iron 3 treats die-hard “armchair generals” with depth and attention to detail while easing things up for newcomers. Its shortcomings, namely bugs and poor optimization, pale in comparison with its many virtues.
  7. PC Gamer UK
    Deep, logical and ambitious, Hearts of Iron 3 is a daunting prospect. Be prepared to lose entire weekends to it. [Oct 2009, p.88]
  8. More complex and yet also more accessible than ever, with an incredibly in-depth simulation of WWII.
  9. Once again Paradox offers a strategy game on a global scale, perfect for retirement, taking a year off or spending your life in solitude. It's dry presentation is full of statistics and details. If you've got enough patience, this game could keep you occupied for years.
  10. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Unbelievable complexity in this strategy game with many ways to automate processes that lets players manage wars on a global scale – enjoy it fully! [Sept 2009]
  11. The war waging is brilliant, but diplomacy, speed, user interface etc robs the game of a better score.
  12. Hearts of Iron III does not even attempt to be beginner-friendly, it rather remains what it always was: One of the most complex and challenging strategy games that are currently available.
  13. PC PowerPlay
    Life consuming strategy - after you beat that learning curve. [Nov 2009, p.60]
  14. Despite dwelling on the well-worn topic such as the World War Two warfare, this third installment of the acclaimed Hearts of Iron 'grand strategy' saga truly delivers. Based on the revamped engine displayed on Europa Universalis, Paradox' title offers unique depth, flexibility, historical accuracy and wonderful playability that will perhaps overwhelm newcomers but will surely make strategy enthusiasts rejoice once again. It may lack state-of-the-art graphics and sound effects but it is anyway one of the greatest war simulators currently on the shelves.
  15. If you're looking for true control and almost an unlimited war-game scope, than Hearts of Iron III is your game, however it would have been nice if some of the bugs were fixed before the release.
  16. Ambitious, deep, intense… Hearts of Iron III brings again complexity and hardcore feeling to the strategic genre.
  17. Hearts of Iron 3 is by far the most complicated and in-depth strategy game I’ve ever played. My big issue with it is that I didn’t have much fun with the game after delving through hours of menus: it wasn’t until I actually experienced some combat that the game stopped feeling stale.
  18. All but the hardest kernel of strategy fans may be overwhelmed by the micromanagement required and jaded by the long hours of meticulous planning that precede any action, but Hearts of Iron III isn’t designed with casual players in mind. Fans of the series and the genre will find much to be excited about.
  19. Pelit (Finland)
    Hearts of Iron III has lot of potential but is crippled by bugs and flawed AI. The addon surely will fix many problems but are fans willing to sacrifice 20 buck for a patch? [June 2010]
  20. 70
    Everything is in place for an absolutely great game that's unfortunately bogged down in a mess of bad design decisions, bugs, and some odd gameplay changes.
  21. The third installment in the strategy franchise Hearts of Iron is, like it's two predecessors, a game made for the hardcore strategy enthusiasts. This is about as heavy as it gets when it comes to strategy depth, and if you're a member of the intended audience you won't be disappointed.
  22. PC Zone UK
    It's not a bad game, and if you're one of the aforementioned strategy fans, you will likely enjoy it. [Nov 2009, p.76]
  23. Total PC Gaming
    A deep, detailed strategy title occasionally mired in its own complexities. [Issue#24, p.56]
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 256 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 50 out of 256
  1. Feb 7, 2011
    This is one of the greatest games of all time.. There is a great deal of work when you want to play it so if you are not serious about playingThis is one of the greatest games of all time.. There is a great deal of work when you want to play it so if you are not serious about playing it then it may be a bit to much for casual gamers. Saying that, the game can be overwhelming but if you give it 100% of your attention it can be really great. They added the ability for the computer to control certain micromanaging which is a welcome change from the previous edition. Full Review »
  2. JohnP
    Aug 23, 2009
    There is a special feeling one gets when they pay $39.99 to participate in a public beta test, to which HOI3's developer, Paradox There is a special feeling one gets when they pay $39.99 to participate in a public beta test, to which HOI3's developer, Paradox Interactive, has invited its paying customers. PI has a reputation for releasing games before they are finished, and they have fully lived up to it. Following on the heels of HoI2, which had several expansions, HoI3 totally redesigns their game from the ground up. If you are familiar with its predecessors, you will be mostly familiar with the latest iteration. From an aesthetic perspective, the game actually looks fairly good, and it is playable in high resolution (works fine on my HD TV monitor). My system is upper-end, and I have not had many issues with regular graphic processing, although many users have expressed concerns on the PI forums about performance. If anything could be said for the graphic design, it is that the map looks nihilistic. It is washed out with muted earth tones that one might joke were the remains of the world at the end of HoI2: Armageddon. I won't mince words. It is just an ugly map. The biggest problems with HoI3 lie with its incompleteness and obvious premature release. It is a very complex game. Yet for all its, frankly, absurd over-complexity and obsession with minute detail, the game allows for such ahistorical and contra-logical events as Japan joining the Allies, the US joining the Axis, etc. Some of the Design Changes: The size of the world in terms of playable areas has jumped by over a factor of 10, to over 14,000. This necessitated a change to their ground unit rules, which are now more complex, but conceptually good ideas. The unit purchase menus are different, especially for land units. Instead of buying a division and perhaps attaching a brigade, you construct brigades and assemble them into divisions. There are some quirks built into the game that make juggling brigades between divisions just plain annoying (you have to remove a leader from a 2-brigade division before you can break it down into separate brigades, for example). You will spend a great deal of time fighting the system to get your divisions set up the way you want them, but you have much more flexibility. IMO, this is a good change, but the niggling playability issues need to be addressed. The research has been altered (in my mind, improved), but like everything else HoI, it is overly complex. Do nations really need to research separate Destroyer, Light Cruiser, Heavy Cruiser, Battlecruiser, Battleship, and Aircraft Carrier technology chains? Or is that just a mechanism to give you something else on which to drag out your research? Do you really need to research Light Cruiser Crew Training to learn to use Carrier Task Forces? Or is that just an excuse for you to spend points on light cruiser technology? Do you really need to research anti-aircraft technology for every class of ship in the game? Or is that just a time sink? IMO, the way tech has been changed is good, but the details of the implementation are not logical. The game has implemented a wide variety of AI management routines for all aspects of the game. And as with any AI in any Complex game, you'll never use it because it can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory before you ever notice that it's doing something totally stupid (for example, during the battle of France, my German AI pulled a quarter of my divisions out of contact and parked them deep inside Germany on Victory Point zones instead of using them to break the French lines). As with anything, the more complicated the design, the harder it is for an AI to respond well. "Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions of 'em!" Or, in many cases, bad design decisions. If you are very successful (and your production goes very high), the Production screen will begin to lag out to the point where, even on fast systems, you may need to wait up to a minute or longer before you can click anything. To the best of my ability to judge, this seems to be because of optimization errors. Every time you revisit the main screen (e.g., every time you place a unit into your production queue, you must return here), the game recalculates and redisplays your convoy routes and your production values. This will park your system, leaving you to ponder whether or not the application has locked up. Every. Time. You. Open. The. Unit. Production. Window. Diplomacy is broken. Any time you begin the game as Germany, if you follow historical precedent, every country not directly aligned with you or the Comintern will join the Allies about the time you get around to invading France. Part of the reason for this gameplay bug is an obvious lack of playtesting prior to release. Other reasons include an AI mechanic called "threat" and another that governs "alignment" between the three major power blocs (Axis, Allies, Comintern). The in-game mechanics are unacceptably unrealistic, and frankly, just plain silly. Partisan implementation is silly. Yes. Silly. In occupied territories, about once a week (5.8% chance times every province you control), a partisan brigade will spawn randomly and start running as fast as it can to change control of other provinces. In the entirity of the war, such forces might have sprung into being once a year (and I think that's an exaggeration). This sub-system will turn your games into a distracting Whack-a-mole partisan hunt that does nothing except detract from your fun. Your police and garrison units will not do anything to prevent partisans from appearing. But two brigades of them will always stomp a partisan unit out of existence, assuming you can catch it. The game moves slower than a one-legged ant in a barrel of molasses. I began a game as Germany in 1936. Four days later, I am finally in 1940, and that is playing at least 6 to 8 hours a day. According to the forums, the save game feature might corrupt in 1941, so I'll need to wait on the next patch before playing further. Of course, in 1940, I just finished conquering the Netherlands East Indies and the Belgian Congo. As Germany. Now, one of the reasons for that was a bug in the saved game process. I went to sleep at war with France and England and the rest of the 160 Allied nations I had honked off by conquering Poland in 1936. And the Baltic States. Etc. When I reloaded the game the next morning, with my divisions having just cracked the Maginot line by direct assault, lo and behold! I was no longer at war with the Allies. In fact, the Allies, Axis, and Comintern had all ceased to exist as diplomatic entities, and I was in a truce with everyone. So I immediately declared war again on France just to see what would happen. From that point, the diplomacy was so broken that it never recovered. Oh, and Luxembourg still refuses to surrender, despite having no units and no territory. Apparently, I need to spend espionage points on "lowering its national unity" first. Conclusions There are so many problems I have seen with HoI3 so far that I can't list them without writing a novel. Like HoI2, HoI3 may eventually become a playable game, and if tweaked to reduce some of the absurd ahistoricity that arises from the working-as-designed diplomacy engine, it might be worth your effort. As it was releases, this is an incomplete game, and even if it was complete, it would still be flawed in that it is overly complex for an open-ended fantasy game about the WWII years, and hopelessly unrealistic for a conflict simulation. It truly is an ambitions project, and I'll go so far as to say it's an amazing application. But it's currently (version 1.1c) broken beyond all reason. Until it is fixed (meaning until Paradox finally releases a release candidate), I suggest avoiding it like the swine flu. Full Review »
  3. ZachG
    Aug 11, 2009
    Although the groundwork is in place, the game needs a huge shot of performance enhancing steroids. Being an avid strategy gamer, and Although the groundwork is in place, the game needs a huge shot of performance enhancing steroids. Being an avid strategy gamer, and certainly a fan of the Hearts of Iron series, I can see that the potential is huge. Once the bugs are ironed out along with performance issues, it will be a delight to play, and will surely be a great sequel, but until then i have to give it a 6 out of 10. Does quality assurance even exist at developers names that don't start with a B and end with an lizzard? Full Review »