There are several reviews that describe those changes in detail so I'll avoid that. Instead I'll concenrate on my experience after playing several games with the version 1.1 patch.
I've started the first game as USA in 1936 on Normal difficulty to learn the changes. I think this scenario is quite good as a tutorial because hardly anything can go wrong, and you can't actually make many mistakes.
I've decided to spend the first two years on continuing the new deal and building factories, which will then make it easier to produce weapons. It immediately becomes evident that the game hasn't been optimised because it runs very slowly on my new Xeon with 12GB RAM. Nevermind, it's now possible to run the game in a window by pressing [`] key (tilde; above the TAB) and typing fullscreen, so you can watch a movie at the same time.
By 1938 Italy invaded Ethiopia and Franco took power in Spain. The new friendly Hitler never annexed Austria and didn't want anything from Czechoslovakia... I've decided to beef up my defences in west pacific, especially Wake, Midway, and Honolulu. I think Guam cannot be really defended if the Japanese Empire attacks.
The new command structure is much closer to reality now, having theatre HQs (e.g. Pacific or Europe), army corps, groups, armies, divisions, regiments, brigades, etc. It's extremely tedious to manage those so I've put my best generals (well, they'll be the best pretty soon) - Douglas MacArthur will command the Pacific TO and Douglas MacArthur will command the European TO. You've read that right, now the game includes a clone of the famous General to serve in different capacities. My personal wish would be for the collector's edition to include 2 Guderians and 2 Rommels
The map was made much bigger (although it's still a flat Earth) and so more provinces were added. This actually causes a problem with the new division setup because you cannot have brigades in your divisions stationed in adjacent provinces. This effectively means that the Atlantic Wall will have big gaps for my invasion force of Super-MacArthur brothers to land completely unopposed.
I can't declare war because my country's neutrality is still at 80% and it needs to be much lower. Reducing the neutrality is done by setting your spies to roam free around the country spreading pro-interventionist propaganda, but this takes years to take any effect.
It's now 1939 and Germany declares war on one of the Chinese warlords because Japan has been routed from their territories. At this rate Japan would have to withdraw from the continent altogether. Hirohito suddenly became scared of Germany and their terrible declaration of non-peace and decided to join the Allies, and Chaberlain had another great moment when he waved the alliance pact document in front of cheerful English and Japanese.
1939. September 1st. At midnight the first transport planes leave Germany, target: Poland. At 4:00 AM they're above the target:
Warsaw and land at one of the airfields south of Warsaw. The Polish president awaits the newly arrived VIP - it's his friend, Hitler. The next week is spent on declarations that the demons of the past must never come back and that all of Europe must now do its best to not start a war for the next hundreds of years. This day will forever be remembered as the day the World Peace 2 erupted.
Hitler was true to his words and became a proponent of non-violent conflict resolution, never invading France or the Benelux.
Later this year, however, the Soviets declared war on Findland. After the war has ended, Finland joined the Allies, so did most of South American countries, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway too.
At this point I was bored to the point that not even a six pack of Red Bull would make me want to continue, so I wanted to see what would happen if I invaded France as Spain. I've used some cheats to get some armor and infantry ready because I didn't want to spend too much time on this test. I've attacked in february 1940 and after some skirmishes with lone divisions.
I was soon to engage one of their largest armies. I was able to catch the 50,000 strong French group with my almost 75,000 strong mix of armor and infantry divisions. The epic battle lasted a whole month, and the horrible bloodbath caused 400 casualties on the French side and less than 200 on mine. I've decided to dash to Paris and liberate it from the French.
After another month or even more, Paris fell. As Hitler (with whom I wasn't even allied, let alone on speaking terms) received the good news he thanked me for my effort.
And I realized why he did that. France and Spanish-occupied territories immediately switched sides to Germany, and in the south a new state of Vichy was created as dependent of Germany.
Before giving up completely I've reloaded as the UK, Germany and others to see what they manufacture, how's their research progressing, etc. It turned out that UK for example didn't produce anything, the production sliders caused a total waste of the industrial capacity (ran out of supplies as none were produced) and the research also was abysmal.
And so I've decided to give it another try, this time starting in 1939.
Enter September 1st, 1939: Peace loving Hitler turned out to be an imposter and the real Hitler was rescued from his kidnappers just in time to wage war on Poland. This was much harder to accomplish as it took Guderian and friends about 45 days to force Poland to surrender. The Polish Government went in exile to Paris (perfectly safe place to be).
In the East things were going bad for the inexperienced Japanese soldiers, as the Chinese used their elite troops to continously chase the retreating Japanese.
Communist China joined the Axis of Germany, Italy, Japan, and others. Unfortunately that wasn't enough to stop the Japanese from declaring war on its ally: Communist China!
What could cause these strange results? It turns out that the developers have released the product when maybe 75% of it was finished.
The relations between countries are not set correctly, e.g. UK and Australia and New Zealand have zero relations which mean that the ANZACs will slowly drift towards the Axis and maybe even join Japan. UK, also, has better relations with Romania than with the USA, so it's very hard for USA to e.g. buy licenses for British tanks.
Another problem is that perhaps 80% of events from the previous HoI 2 were removed and the ones kept weren't programmed correctly - hence the problem with Spain and Vichy France.
The sliders allowing you to choose what type of government you'd ideally want, e.g. Fascist USA or Social Conservative Germany are gone. Some countries are gone too, like the Confederate States of America, Arab League, Scandinavian federation, etc.
Leaders (e.g. generals, etc.) were removed, so was the distinction between day and night (daylight para drops on D-Day, anyone?), the ability to trade technologies was removed too, along with the ability to create minor alliances. The different companies responsible for research like Standard Oil or General Electric were removed too.
What we're left with is a fantasy game of drunken diplomacy, tedious, unpaid work of micromanaging the production sliders and army structure (leaving that to the AI is not a wise a choice if you want to win big battles), and an unbalanced wargame that didn't quite finish the design stage before implementation.
As always, these problems will be corrected in the next year or so (although Paradox must now focus on new games), and the problems with diplomacy and events especially will be addressed in the form of user-made modifications, which can be accessed after registering your game with the publisher.
Therefore some time in 2010 we'll get the best computer war game made so far. Until then, save your money.
Edited by maciekpl, 18 August 2009 - 09:30 AM.