This seems to be a game that people either love or hate. Is it as good as PTO II? Not even close. The main reason is the lack of ground forces. This takes away a LOT of strategy and options in the game. Also the music dosen't do much for the game like it did in PTO II. Also, the AI is seems to be much weaker than in PTO II, but it can still be a lot of fun if you're willing to look past these things.
The new menu allows you to build your warmachine and manage your resources much better than before. Also, the promotion of commanders is much clearer, and the fact that they can control individual ships is a lot better than having them control the entire fleet. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and they fit better on one type of ship than another. Also, bringing Germany and Britain in as playable nations was a great idea. For you history buffs, there are bios on ALL commanders, ALL planes and ALL ships that tell you what they did in the war. There must be at least 50 techs that you can reasearch and a lot of planes and ship classes too. They even threw in planes and ships that never saw combat, but were planned. The Germans built 3 prototype fighters that looked earily similar to the stealth bomber. Build some of those and watch those P-51s drop like flies.
Some say this game is too easy. OK, an experienced palyer fighting with an ally can probably win the game in less than 8 months game time. But, if you want a REAL challenge, try winning the war fighting three nations. Every single decision you make MUST be the right one, or you WILL be crushed.
I bought this game aobut six months ago, and I still play it to the wee hours of the morning. I still think PTO II was the best game of the franchise by far, but I do not regret buying this game.