It’s here. It’s finally here. After 17 long, long years, Evil Genius now has a sequel. Staying true to its roots with its architecture, room design, and villains, Evil Genius 2 is probably one of the best base builders I have ever played, and I’m going to tell you why.
Just for a second, I want you to close your eyes. Imagine a tropical island in the middle of the ocean with a massive volcano. The sun is out in full glare, and you hear the waves crashing against the shore. Add a subtle hint of retro James Bond music (you know, back in the day when the Bond films were very cliché) and what you have here is the headquarters of your criminal empire.
What is standing in your way of achieving world dominance? Well, of course, it is the force of justice of FOJ for short. These 5 counter-terrorism agencies are all that stand in the way of your impending victory. They will be throwing everything at you, from small investigators who can take a quick picture of your lair to the super spies who will absolutely melt through your army of workers. Trying to balance your evil empire without raising suspicion of the Forces of Justice is a challenge in itself.
You will need to pick who will head up your criminal establishment and lead you into total world domination. There are four head honchos to choose from, each with their own specific set of skills and most definitely unique personalities. But the real star of Evil Genius is Maximillian. This megalomaniac has reintroduced again from the first game, and his charm remains. His obsession for gold is unfathomable, and he will do all that he can to acquire as much of it possible, even throwing his minions in the bullets of his enemies.
Introducing Red Ivan, a former henchman of one of the agencies in the Forces of Justice. He has now gone power-mad. His loyalty led him to acquire his own country, where he used it as a base for his evil deeds and desires. A typical military tyrant who will muster his men and force them into a battle, only to achieve his selfish objectives.
Zalika is a brilliant mastermind and brings a very confident arrogance to her abilities. She concentrates on her research and development, leaving the Forces of Justice and other geniuses in total awe of her work. Zalika was also the first person to create artificial intelligence at the age of six. With intelligence like this, who needs brawn to take over the world?
Emma is the final genius on this list. She is cunning and highly deceptive, but would you expect from a former spy who was set out to bringing evil to justice. The reason for her switch to evil was because she was cast aside when normality was restored. Now she rules with an iron fist and has no time for incompetence amongst her army of loyal subjects.
The cast to voice our evil villains is exceptional! The most notable name cast is the amazing Brian Blessed, who is voicing Red Ivan and brings his vocal power to the role. Emma is played by the former Moneypenny of the Pierce Brosnan era of bond films, Samantha Bond. She brings a striking and intimidating aura with her performance. Zalika is voiced by the very talented and experienced Rakie Ayola, delivering a confident and powerful display. Finally, we have the highly sought after star of video game voice acting, Glen McCready, who takes on the role of Maximillian.
The interaction between evil genius and minion in the cutscenes and throughout is interesting and funny. It provides that nice touch of the interaction of comedic dictatorship and the petrified loyal subject. The interactions occur mostly during the tutorial and occasionally throughout the game.
You are nothing without your loyal and petrified minions! Without this workforce of expendable men and women, your empire will never take off, and you will end up sitting in one of those empty corridors in the lair, pondering on what could have been.
Minions are needed to run your operations, research your next eureka moment and fend off and probably die defending against the Forces of Justice. Not only do you have your low-level minions, but you can upgrade them in three key areas: the first being pure brute force or muscle in this instance. You need to keep the good guys out (weird saying that)! The best way to do that is by training up your small and weak minions into heavy brutes that can whack-a-spy when they see one.
You can train your minions in the art of deception. Of course, they will never be as deceptive and cunning as your evil genius, but just enough to distract the intruders in a quick game of roulette. Oh yeah, you heard right. Your whole operation is fronted by a casino.
Back to the minions, these deceptive minions will greet your guests as hotel staff and make the island look like a holiday resort instead of a criminal lair.
Research is key. Training that simple minion into a highly intelligent and resourceful scientist or technician will help you maintain and expand your evil domain for generations to come. It is vital for your operations to be successful and for your lair to be defendable at all times, so it is best that you get these guys in shape and ready to go.
Within each tier of proficiency, there are future developments to them too. Not wanting to get into much detail as I don’t want to spoil the journey for you, but the platter of different minions you can have under your control is amazing. Just when you think this small person who cuts down walls with a ray gun couldn’t get any better, they definitely do!
But what you really need is henchmen! These individuals are the elite of the elite and will defend you and your stooge army from the impending threat of death. There are few to recruit from across the globe to join you within your ranks. You have the magical and extremely distracting Incendio who will keep your planned tourist and the somewhat unplanned Forces of Justice agents on the casino floor and away from your lair. Full Metal Jackie will turn agents into melted matter with her selection of firepower and then finally, the very smooth and suave Eli Barracuda Jnr. He will meet your enemies with a hand on their shoulder and ask them if this is all really worth it? But if that doesn’t work, he doesn’t mind whipping out his side piece to blow them back onto the shores they approached from.
One thing you will need to keep in mind, however, as powerful and as intimidating as your evil geniuses are, minions will rise up and revolt or desert their posts. Keeping them on the border of being happy and intimidated is key. But don’t worry, You can always have them executed in front of the others to send a message.
Dig in and build up. You have a mountain to carve out and plenty to fill in with rooms and other interesting chambers. The essentials are obvious, such as accommodation, power and food, and without these, you are going nowhere. As you expand from the necessities of base-building, you will start to unlock and require a range of different speciality rooms.
Well, what’s included, you ask? For a starter, how about a prison where you can capture and interrogate any enemy agents that have been too reckless and got themselves caught up in the act of espionage. How will you take over the world without a control room? Any effective evil plan to world domination requires a command centre where minions who have been sent all over the world for your cause can get back in touch and allow for them to report on progression and achievement. And with all the stolen gold that needs to be held securely, maybe behind a massive indestructible door? A vault is defiantly needed! However, you will need to keep that close to you, so maybe next to your inner sanctum? A room just for your evil genius to throw commands down like a fist on a table.
Each room comes highly detailed, with assets that need to be included for the room to function effectively. You can also customize the rooms with other little novelties that you would expect in base builders/management sims. Some of these additional assets provide key benefits to your minions who operate in the rooms.
The whole game has a very good aesthetic throughout. The cartoony spy/villain approach from the old days is handled really well, with rich colour and artistic marvels littered across the game. With its accommodating gameplay and jazzy cliché background music, it really does play well overall for setting the right scene.
With any base builder, once you have grasped the basics, it all about mastering the practice. Evil Genius 2 provides a tutorial to get you through all of the basics. This is probably one of the best tutorials I have seen in a game, which entertained and educated equally. If anything, it all adds progress to setting up your evil plan and beyond.
You can customize the difficulty if you want a tougher challenge by setting everything to max or, if you want a relaxing experience with the odd spike in provocative opposition, you can do that too. But what I found is that when it came to taking on the Forces of Justice and its personnel variation, it felt like a tower defence slash base builder. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but when you felt you have dealt with one wave, you can see that another is straight on the way. It then relies on you to manage expansion with defence within a small amount of time, and sometimes you can feel a bit overwhelmed and lost on what to prioritise.
With the options of four campaigns and the sandbox mode, you can end up spending hours, days, maybe weeks and months on this game. Letting your creativity take over each experience with the different geniuses and testing your capabilities of being an evil genius yourself.
Rebellion has made a very, very good game and has done the original proud by sticking to its roots and also giving it more room to breathe. This isn’t generic, it’s a beautifully calculated experience that allows your creative mind to flourish as well as challenging you on how to win the game outright with intelligence. Thoroughly impressed with my time on Evil Genius 2 and I hope there is more to be discovered!
Evil Genius 2: World Domination releases on 30th March 2021 on Steam.
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