We take a look at the fan created HOI game.
I have talked about Paradox Interactive’s relationship with the fans, and how they seem to really get what the publisher/creator to consumer relationship should be like. Darkest Hour is a testament to that. It’s basically a game put together using the same engine that powers the Hearts of Iron games but this one was made by the community. After a short break from the other Hearts of Iron games, I was ready to jump back in an see how they did.
I won’t go into too much detail about what a Hearts of Iron game is, as you may check out the other reviews if you want to know the nitty gritty, but I will give a brief description just to catch everyone up.
If you imagine a very long pool, but instead of signs indicating how deep that pool is, there are markers with game names on them. Now, walk all the way down to the deepest part of that pool and you will see the Hearts of Iron franchise. The depth may scare you off, but keep in mind that you can choose to bring those little floatie things that go on your arms to help you out.
The things that you players have come to expect are still present. You still play the game from an overhead view of a world map, you still have the option of controlling everything about your country from where to fight, who to fight and how to fight down to how to manage your resources, what friends to make, who to have in your cabinet, who to spy on, what trades to make, and on and on. You also, thankfully, still have the option of turning whatever you want over to the AI.The graphics took a bit of a hit though, and look to be knocked back to Hearts of Iron 2. So if you are just now finishing off HOI3 or one of its many expansions, keep that in mind.
Darkest Hour lets you control any country from the WWI all the way up to the Cold Wars, and does an incredible job of making each war feel different from the next. Production capabilities are different, army units are different, etc. Players must really work around the limitations of the era. For instance, I almost kept exclusively with land units. Air Force and Navy were present but just not that helpful in WWI. However, in the cold war, ground units really have no place to go.
The menu system has had a more user-friendly upgrade with sliders and the like. If this is the first HOI game you play you won’t notice it, but I’m sure veterans will appreciate the changes.
If you would like to follow the historical path, you are free to do so. However, the fun is in messing with the timeline and seeing how things change depending on your actions. If you did want to play historically, you can count on other countries doing what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it.
The one big improvement and place where you can tell the fans had some input is with the much needed addition, or expanding, of the tutorial system. It is still not incredibly in-depth, but it does a great job of showing you every aspect of the game and will give you a good foundation from which to build.
Make no mistake, this is still a Hearts of Iron game. The way you play Darkest Hour will not change much from how you played all of the other HOI games. The influence by the community comes through in several parts of the menu system, decision making process, and the AI. There were just a few polishing problems. While it still felt like a completed game for the most part, the game did crash on me a few time, and the graphics could use just a bit of an upgrade but those issues should in no way dissuade those HOI fans out there from picking this up and giving it a spin. New players will enjoy themselves as well, and would do themselves a favor by going with Darkest Hour over other HOI games at first for the tutorial .