It’s hard work being an evil meglomaniacal dictator in Evil Genius 2, believe me.
I mean, between ensuring you have enough energy to keep the lights on in your ever-expanding lair where you’re plotting world domination. You also have to deal with workers (aka minions) who are more concerned with what’s for lunch than guard duty and infiltrating enemy agents hell bent on ensuring you don’t achieve, well, your goal of world domination.
A sequel to the original Evil Genius, a real-time strategy/world builder game from Elixir Games in 2004, Evil Genuis 2: World Domination has a real Austin Powers/Despicable Me feel to it and for my playthrough I picked Maximillian, a despot who actually appeared in the original game. He’s one of four selectable dictators, each with different abilities that can influence game play. Maximillian, for example, can order minions/workers to prioritise tasks and train faster. Other characters include Red Ivan (who appeared in the original game), Emma and Zalika.
The premis is quite simple: Increase your criminal network and take over the world.
If you’ve played any sim game at all, you’ll know what to do: Build up your base and spread your influence across the globe. You have different room types to pick from: Power stations, mess halls, barracks, training facilities, prisons, armouries and infirmaries, for example, then once you’ve decided what you want to go where a troop of henchmen, resplendent in orange jumpsuits, trot in enthusiastically, brandishing underslung ray guns, and disintegrate the bedrock, replacing dirt and stone with shiny walls, polished floors and flashing lights. You then add the necessary equipment to the room, such as a power generator, an incinerator or a security desk, then order your minions to get to work.
Being an evil dictator doesn’t come for free, though, with everything costing gold so you’ll need to launch dastardly schemes from the world map that will not only help spread your evil influence but will provide much need cash to fund your base, which from the outside looks remarkably like the island of the TV show Thunderbirds. FAB!
Learning new and evil skills
It was during the tutorial that I realised the importance of ensuring you balance room size with power needs to ensure the lights stay on. I was merrily dropping down mess halls and research facilities left right and centre but suddenly – bam – everything went dark: I’d underestimated how much power my lair required.
I also realised rather quickly that I needed to work on my interior design skills as I tended to make rooms too big, leaving little room for more important rooms later on. Rooms like armouries, sleeping quarters and, importantly, vaults to store all the gold that I was accumulating. I also realised too late that I had a tendancy to forget doors, meaning power plants nestled idly next to barracks which merged with training facilities. I guess you could call it an open-play lair.
The tutorial does a good job of laying out the ground rules but I felt it could have been a bit shorter and like most management sims/real-time strategy games like this, I quickly found myself wishing I had another set of arms as I tried to maintain the fine balance between ensuring I had enough minions and security staff to deal with agent infiltrations (of which there were many) but also ensuring funds kept flowing through schemes and other nefarious undertakings.
Their mission, should the choose to accept it…
I’ve mentioned the enemy agents who arrive on your island, who arrive by means of sea-faring vessel, posing as visitors to your front of a glamourous casino (how ingenious). Agents are bad for you and your aspirations of world leader and can be either captured, killed or distracted but I found that the game’s AI didn’t quite do what it should have so defeating agents proved a little harder than anticipated. I lost count the number of times infiltrating agents were able to wander deep into my lair, taking photos as they went, before finally being spotted by my minions.
I also found that early on, my minions were woefully underpowered against the agents, with most confrontations ending up with minions being dispatched with a roundhouse kick to the face or punched in the solar plexus before winding up in body bags. Once you succeed in capturing an agent, though, you can interrogate them which provides vital intel that opens up more options and schemes in the world map (be warned, though: They will eventually escape captivity, forcing another round of fisticuffs).
In an effort to beef up base security you can increase surveillance with security cameras and guard posts and lay dastardly traps in strategic locations around your lair in an effort to outwit invading agents and even the odds a little when several are lurking about. Sadly, most of the aforementioned traps proved next to useless – one of them is a comedy boxing glove attached to a spring and either did little damage to an agent or they bypassed it completely, allowing them to move deeper into my lair.
Herding Minions requires juggling skills
Now, I’m no stranger to games like Evil Genius 2 but I did find training more superior minions a little confusing, too, and I’m not sure whether it was just because I didn’t pay attention during the tutorial or I was just doing it wrong but for the life of me I was unable to train more brutish guards that would have been much ore effective against agents.
Graphically, Evil Genius 2 has a nice cartoony feel to it that works well and really fits with the evil-ruler-wanting-to-take-over-the-world vibe. Colours are bright and vivid, and minions trot about comically, going about their business.
While Evil Genius 2: World Domination gets a little repetitive around the five hour mark as you settle into the fine balancing tasks and maintaining your lair and the AI needs a bit of an overhaul to even out the odds a little, it’s a lot of fun, especially when most of the time in video games you’re playing the good guy out to save the world.