Back in 2004, Elixir Studios released the base-building game Evil Genius, which put players in the role of a…well…evil genius, attempting to achieve global domination. To do this, you needed a base, and had to protect it from agents trying to sneak in and cause havoc. Now, Rebellion Developments has released Evil Genius 2: Global Domination, and it releases today.
Much like the original Evil Genius game, Evil Genius 2 puts you once again in the role of one of four evil geniuses attempting to take over the world by some means or another, whether through technological supremacy or simply buying your way to the top. All of these are done inorder to eventually build your Doomsday Device, the machine that will intimidate the entire world into bowing to your will.
The game is obviously a satirical take on the spy thriller genre used to give a new coat of paint to the dungeon-keeper genre, but it does do its work fairly well in making it so that you’re the leader of an organization with ambitions to take over the world. You play a hammy villain with a unique design and cartoonishly evil personality, having to deal with various ineffective, dimwitted minions.
Though it may seem simple on the surface, the game has a surprising amount of depth to it. You have to be conscious of where you put the major rooms on your choice of one of three isolated tropical islands, and alongside that you have to keep track of your criminal enterprises elsewhere in the world while also protecting your base from the Forces of Justice attempting to bring you down.
So far, Evil Genius 2 gives you the choice of four different evil geniuses to try your ambitions in. I played for a good while as Maximillian, a pastiche of Ernst Stavro Blofeld from the James Bond series (complete with monocle, bald head, and facial scar) attempting to bribe and buy my way to the top once we really got going.
Alongside the usual things like building rooms for your base to suit your needs of an ever-growing population of minions, the game also gives you a variety of different types of minions. There’s workers, the base population of minions that you can turn into others via training, scientists that research, guards that protect your base from intruders, and valets, who keep up the facade that you’re a legitimate business.
Each of these minion types has others in certain trees that you will gain access to as you continue to play the game, giving you a lot more strategic depth and ways to keep players interested. And, of course, each one is adept in their own way in taking down agents.
Agents are sent by the Forces of Justice when your Heat gets too high, and come in a variety of forms such as Infiltrators, Saboteurs, and more, that will attempt to wreak havoc on your base in one way or another. This is where another fun aspect of supervillain base-building comes to the fore: traps.
Ranging from things like dart launchers and bubble traps to spring-loaded boxing gloves, there’s any number of ways for you to capture an intruder to your base and have them sent to your prison area, where you can torture them for information with any variety of painful machinery. So with that, you can tell Mr. Bond that you expect him to die as many times as you want.
The looks of the game also very much fit the satirical tone it’s going for. Your base is deliberately intended to be colorful and ostentatious, and your Inner Sanctum room, at least in Maximilian’s case, is gold-plated from the hallway all the way to the room itself. The game is bright, colorful, and full of charm, with each of your minions having at least one silly personality trait.
The game is also easy to figure out, though when I was playing it the ability to lay out rooms was somewhat clunky, as I would sometimes randomly have pillars of rock in the room when I didn’t intend to leave anything. Having to resize rooms to accommodate more demands like power and more was also something that needed to be done fairly often, though the size concerns were mitigated by each base having four levels for you to build in, so if you’re running out of room you can always build a similar room on another floor, especially since four floors give you plenty of room. If anything, alongside meeting your base and criminal enterprise’s means, the game also greatly encourages you to make efficient use of space to fill each room with the most stuff you can without having to expand it too much.
Another issue is that sometimes the game’s tutorial is lacking bits of information that can end up confusing you. For instance, while I was playing, my research would randomly stop, only to resume later, and I couldn’t figure out why. It was only on playing further that I realized that your minions having to rest to recover their stats also extended to your scientists, and research would only continue as long as a scientist was at work.
There’s also a bit of strategy involved when it comes to being a villain. Trap placement, along with having guards at the proper places, can help you to counter incoming agents without them being able to do much damage or disguise themselves. On the World Stage, where you can form your own criminal enterprises across the world, you can rob banks to gain money and kidnap people, bribe governments, and more, depending on your villain, but you have to be careful to bring heat up so much that your bases end up locked down by the Forces of Justice.
The amount of heat you get can also cause you to start getting more agents in your base, which thankfully also allows you to get rid of another downside I have to the game, where while watching agents infiltrate your base and attempt to sabotage or otherwise interfere with your plans is exciting at first, as they keep coming the novelty somewhat wears off.
The game also makes sure that you have a lot of stuff to work towards, as you get bonus objectives as you play that involve you often improving your base in some way or making you play differently in pursuit of more money. You can do certain missions, expand rooms, hire other minions, and more, all helping to give you something to do. I found myself playing longer than I thought I would, especially since I don’t play base-building games for the most part.
While I was only able to play a game as Max, and never really get past the tutorial, I still found myself having fun and enjoying the clever writing and satirical plotlines, particularly the quest chain up to getting guards, where the guard’s only answer to both how much weight he can bench-press and how many bullets he can take before getting shot is “The biggest one!”
Regardless, Evil Genius 2 is a good amount of megalomaniacal fun that looks like it has plenty of potential for growth, whether through new evil geniuses or however else Rebellion decides to ramp up the game’s style. While it’s not for everyone, its colorful visuals, clever writing, and helping players to constantly have something to do other than watching crowds of minions run around doing work, and the promise of bigger and badder minions, more crimes to commit, and the possibility of taking over the world, definitely helps it to be more exciting. You can play Evil Genius 2: World Domination exclusively on PC.