As the title bluntly depicts, Evil Genius is a game where players take the roles of an EVIL criminal mastermind (stressing the EVIL) bent on World Dominance! Think back in all the funky superspy movies, or better yet just remember the Austin Powers movies. The game is basically a façade to the ‘classic’ movies with those ‘60’s super villains like: Dr. Evil or Ernst Stavro Blofeld from the early James Bond films (that villain with the cat). The premise of the game is simple, build your awesome evil lair / secret base, kill any goodie goodie secret agents that foolish try to stop you as your reign of terror spreads across the entire world till finally, you reach the status of an renown mastermind.
In a very tycoon, sim-like environment players organize and command an army of evil minions and henchmen to do
your evil bidding. The game will have to build on an isometric grid, similar to the Sim City games. You begin the game on an abandoned island out in nowhere. The evil lair is built inside a large semi volcanic plate. There are several structures placeables to fill your evil lair with. One of the game’s best qualities is its easy, simplistic interface. The game also has a handy tutorial and plenty of descriptions and even video descriptions for most of the types of objects, minions, and rooms you can create. To start off, players must first choose an evil genius avatar. Each of the three villains you can choose from has a specific character bonus that affects the economy of your evil lair. In addition, what is a super villain without evil lackeys? (Or in this case, evil Henchmen). Henchmen are the tank /hero units, and can unlock unique abilities as they gain experience by killing agents or participating in global evil schemes alongside your evil minions. They are more skilled in combat and players have direct control over their actions, as oppose to the minions whom one can only indirectly control with the use of player tags. Player tags highlight actions in which the minions will take, eventually. Usually, minions will not perform a specific task unless they are given a tag. Tags are used for such things as: to specify the location of some structure that needs to be built, and to mark intruders/ hostile agents for termination or capture.
The secret lair functions as a base of all your operations and it’s here where players build and micromanage minions
and henchmen. You’ll have to construct areas to provide your minions with basic needs such as, living quarters, an infirmary to treat injuries, a staff lounge for them to relax when they are not slaving away and also adequate training facilities to produce more skilled minions. Each individual has five attributes that need to be satisfied in order to perform efficiently. For the base to run smoothly players must pay attention to their minions’ stats like smarts, attention and loyalty. Minions with low loyalty will try to desert the super villain. If this happens, the super villain will need to set an example in front of the other minions and execute the traitor before the others’ eyes to instantly raise their attention and reaffirm their loyalty.
Furthermore, aside from being a place of solitude for the evil genius, the lair is a safe house for loot and gold you collect in the game. The base is also a place where specialized minions research and build doomsday weapons for the Evil Genius to be. Setting up the base is actually quite simple all one does is create blueprints and layouts for the type of room he or she desires and approve the plans. It is here when one can sit back and relax as his or her minions do all the dirty work. Approved plans first get added to a queue and if at least one of your minions is free, his first task is to run to the strong room, a safe to get a briefcase to finance the materials in order to build your plans. Afterwards the materials are picked up either from the boathouse or the heliport outside the secret lair. After the materials have been collected minions return to location and begin construction. The time this process takes to complete depends on the number of minions free, the number of tasks pending simultaneously and whether there are no agents to take care of first. As stated before, work efficiency is also skewed by the five attributes of each minion.
Once an operational base is intact, it’s time to begin committing ‘acts of infamy.’ These are crimes that a player sends henchmen and minions commit across the globe via a HUD. As your base becomes more sophisticated and more crimes and committed the World Map will open up with different regions, and opportunities to steal cash and loot, capture hostages to train minion specialists, take valuable technology, conspire with crime lords, recruit more henchmen to your cause.
As more crimes are committed by your minions not only does your notoriety increase but you also build ‘Heat’ towards a region of the globe. The higher the heat the more likely they will send agents out to bring you to justice. So just like any other evil genius one must arm themselves with devious traps and tightly secured security doors around their secret lair to keep those pesky agents at bay. Agents from across the globe will try to reclaim your stolen loot, dismantle your base, and try to even assassinate your evil super villain. Ultimately eventually skilled super agents will show up to try to disassemble your evil empire and are your greatest threat. Besides the traps you can also disguise your evil operations by opening up nearby hotels and casinos to distract agents and strange tourist that seem to visit your secluded island. Since your resources are limited it’s up to you to use what you have in order to reach maximum notoriety and become the ultimate Mastermind.
If you didn’t already guess, this is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously, and although some of the humour can be dry, and corny the sort of over the top, diabolical humour is works fairly well in this game. It’s always a chuckle seeing one of your minions mimic Jackson’s moon walk and lean while soliciting an agent during an interrogation. The game references and pays tribute to a lot of movies, such that even the Henchmen resemble classic iconic villains from Bond films and such. Its visuals can be said dated, but its cartoony look and feel adds to its personality. The jazzy and band-ish music suits well to bring the out the atmosphere and feel of the ‘60’s to the game. While the game is not overly too innovative and different from most games of its kind, it does have great presentation value. Even if micromanagement games are not one’s cup of tea Evil Genius is certainly worth a look into when considering its interesting concept and not to mention low price point. There is still something left to be desired in this game.
That’s why I call Evil Genius a Game Gem.