Have you ever watched a James Bond film and thought, “hey, I can do that.” I don’t mean the whole international super spy part—I’m talking about the role of the megalomaniacal super-villain. You know, the one with the secret lair, loads of henchmen, and super scientists doing super evil on your behalf. Evil Genius 2: World Domination lets you be the villain you want to be. This follow-up to 2004’s Evil Genius was a long time coming—but it was worth the wait.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is a base building and strategy game with some management aspects. In it, you play one of four evil geniuses—super villains with their own abilities and motivations. Your ultimate goal is world domination, which is usually acquired with the help of a super weapon. To do that, you’ll need an appropriately villainous lair in which to do your research on nefarious technologies while you send your henchmen to take care of your interests on the world stage. Of course, you’ll also need plenty of minions to do your bidding. Train minions into specialists to serve your interests and crush those lousy do-gooders hoping to spoil your plans. Hire powerful henchmen to bolster your ranks, and deck out your casino-front to distract nosy investigators while giving the illusion of legitimacy.
While your goal is world domination, most of your activities in Evil Genius 2 revolve around building your lair. When you start a game—either in campaign or sandbox mode—you have the choice between three islands on which to build. Each of these secluded tropical locations has their own pros, cons, and buildable areas. All three have an attached casino which serves as your front, and also as a means to potentially distract investigators. But the real villainy takes place behind closed metal blast doors, with the heart of your operation carved out of the rock itself by your (mostly) loyal minions.
Building in Evil Genius 2 is easy, and fun. Designate rooms from the build menu, and minions will come and do the rest. You can even visualize entire configurations–or reconfigurations–before committing to your design. If you’ve dug out an area and want to change it later, you can just as easily fill it back in. The building system in Evil Genius 2 allows for some creative freedom. You can have an open floor plan that allows your minions to travel more freely, or you can make endless corridors of death by setting up trapped choke points for intruders. Some of the traps are truly hilarious, and you can set them up in diabolical ways. You can even set up your evil lair so it’s practically a tower defense game—just put all of your important stuff on a lower floor. Once captured, intruders can be interrogated or even brainwashed to become one of your minions—that is, once you break their resolve. Setting up traps in combinations to yield maximum effect can be hilarious for you, but not for the intruders.
Building in Evil Genius 2 isn’t perfect, however. The way the props and devices were organized by room works, but sometimes it can be a little clunky. For instance, when placing a door, you have to make sure the specific door for that room goes over the appropriate tiles—even the doors function and appear the same. Also, while the three islands have a good amount of variety I really wish there were more locations to choose from, or better yet: the ability to make a completely custom island. The ability to place your casino and decide tourist entry points, and helicopter landing pads would be excellent. I’m hoping to see this option implemented sometime in the future officially, or through mods.
While not exactly a management game, Evil Genius 2 does have some management portions to it. Minions are extremely expendable, but must be given places to eat, relax, sleep, and more. It’s not really about their happiness, however, but more about their efficiency. You’ll also need to set up training facilities to graduate them from generic worker into more specialized roles. There are three different minion specialization trees, each with a few different types of minion each: deception, muscle, and science. Deception is about subterfuge and distraction, science is about research and new technologies while muscle is about brute force, and where your combat oriented minions come from. And you’ll need muscle if your lair is invaded by a super-agent or a rival villain. Super villains have lots of enemies.
Whether you’re starting in sandbox mode or a new event and story driven campaign, you have a choice between the four geniuses. These super-villains all have their own specializations and abilities. Maximillian is more of a jack of all trades, and is great at generating money and minions. Red Ivan is all about power, and combat and touts a rocket launcher that can take down groups of intruders—but doesn’t differentiate between minion and intruder. Zalika is science-focused, and has an aura that repairs equipment and puts out fires. Emma is all about deception, and has an ability that resets her henchmen’s cooldowns when she’s close. Geniuses are units on the field, so to speak, and work a bit like hero units in real-time strategy games—so they can be involved directly in combat, and can even be killed. You don’t just have geniuses, however. There are other henchmen that work like hero units too, who may not be as powerful as the genius but have their own unique special abilities that make them extremely valuable to possess.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is about world domination—I mean, it’s in the name. That means running missions on the world stage, which is done by sending minions or spending currency like cash or intel to accomplish certain tasks. These tasks range from robbing to infiltration. Be careful, though—the authorities quickly become aware of your presence, and each location your criminal network has expanded to generates heat. If you draw too much attention, you might find yourself facing packs of special investigators, or nefarious evil-doers looking to steal or sabotage.
Presentation-wise, Evil Genius 2: World Domination is phenomenal. The graphics are great, and I love its late 60s/early 70s spy art style. It’s also genuinely funny—there were a few actual laugh out loud moments while playing through the campaign. The UI, for the most part, is well done—but I found myself frequently mistaking the genius unit icon for the minion training icon, the latter of which brings up a screen-filling menu that can be a hindrance in combat. I appreciate that you can right click to get right into the build menu, but it’s also the same way you move a selected genius—meaning that if you right click twice on accident, you have to click out of the build menu. Again, this is something that’s especially troublesome in combat.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is one of my newest obsessions. I haven’t gotten the chance to play through the campaign with all of the geniuses yet, but I’m currently working through them all. Evil Genius 2 is mostly about creating a sprawling lair, and it has robust building mechanics that allow for some creativity, though it has some strange quirks. What I really hope for is more islands, and different options for fronts. These wishes could very well be addressed in upcoming DLCs. Overall, Evil Genius 2 has a genuinely funny sense of humor and great 60’s/70’s spy style. I have a feeling it’s going to be a game I’ll be playing for a long time.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is available tomorrow on Steam.
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