I love Paradox games. And I hate them as well. I love the setting but the scope of it all often makes me drop the game before it ends but I always come back to it.
Hearts of Iron 3 is not different, in that regard better to EU:Rome which I barely played after beta testing it. But it's really the other way around compared to HOI2.
In HOI2 I spent my time planning for war and once it triggered the game lost its interest. Here you have a bit of preparation fun but not as much as before. On the other hand you have much more fun while at war. Problem right now is that the game is too easy. No real point to conquer the world if you have no challenge doing it. So far played Germany and URSS and both time I found myself tired of just advancing and thus let the game run under AI control with me just watching and deploying troops.
Though it'd be unfair not to mention how much fun I had to reach that and the first conquest I manage. But still I think the game lacks a few things:
- More immersion (total amount of death, medal to distribute to divisions)
- More challenge (events that could turn the tide)
- A more visual combat (not asking for total war style, though I'd enjoy it but in the end I found EU:Rome combat more fun because I saw the battle unfold under my eyes)
- A better research tree, more links, more flavor.
Overall however the game has everything to become grand. I mean it's already such a step forward compared to HOI2 that it's worth the buy but it can also be frustrating and one can hope it'll become the real gems it's meant to be with a future expansion.