Evil Genius Review


Evil Genius is, as the game’s developers put it, your chance to be Dr. No. It takes some Dungeon Keeper, adds some No One Lives Forever and a dash of Austin Powers, and then blends it all together to create a super villain simulator. If you ever thought James Bond was a little too smug for your tastes, here’s your chance to put him in his place and achieve world domination in the process. However, some of you will find that being a super villain requires a lot more micromanagement than you anticipated. It takes quite a bit of planning to take over the world after all.

You begin the game with a simple choice – who do you want to be? There are three super villains to choose from, your classic height-challenged Dr. No, Dr. Evil type, a fur wearing, filter cigarette smoking femme fatale, and a mysterious Chinese warlord. Each comes with his or her special bonuses such as. They each also have their very own super henchman, which serves as the game’s equivalent of a hero, earning experience and gaining special abilities as the game progresses. They are also very valuable in that they are the only minions in the game that you’ll be able to give direct orders to. The henchmen all draw their inspiration from those appearing in spy movies, particularly Bond movies, with twelve different henchmen appearing in the game.

Screenshots
Evil geniuses love their superweapons!

With your in-game persona selected, you are transported to your island which will serve as home to your all-important secret base. Evil geniuses like to keep their whereabouts secret from prying eyes, so the base has to be built underground. The center of your island consists of a mass of darker colored rock into which you’ll carve out the rooms and corridors of your base. Outside of the money needed to pay for everything, space is probably your most important resource as once you’re out of rock you’re out of room to build. It seems a bit strange, but every time you play the game your island will be the same and you’ll have the same shape and size of area in which to build every time out. It would have been nice to be given the option to build, say, an undersea base, but it’s desert island bases for all. There aren’t even different tilesets available, so no matter which evil genius you select to play as your base will have the Dr. No high-tech sterile look to it.

It should also be noted at this point that there is only a single scenario in the game. Your objectives in each phase are identical each time you play, you’ll unlock new room types and items at the same time, and the available mission-like acts of infamy will open up in the same general progression. Again this strikes me as a little odd for a sim game, as just about every builder sim comes with a variety of scenarios as well as an open-ended sandbox mode these days. These is detrimental to replay value – even though you can experiment with different base layouts and trap placements, you’ll have a hard time shaking off the feeling of déjà vu after playing the game a number of times.

The building aspect of the game is controlled with an intuitive and well-designed interface. Laying out rooms is done with the mouse and you can redraw and reshape the room to your heart’s content before paying for the room or accidentally committing yourself to a misaligned corridor. Once a room has been purchased you must wait for your minions (evil modern versions of the ubiquitous RTS peasant) to blast out the rock and then create the room. There’s some patience required in this process due to Evil Genius’ unique way of handling construction. You can’t directly control your minions so you need to wait for one to finish up his current task before he’ll start on the room. You can use your evil genius to prioritize a room for construction, but this does not guarantee that you’ll get it quickly. This is because to physically place a room or object in your base a minion first must run to your strongroom and grab a briefcase of money, run the money down to the island’s dock, grab a crate from the dock, return to the base, and then unpack the crate at the room or item’s new location. Early in the game the wait is not too long because you have enough minions without anything to do waiting around to build something. However, as your evil empire grows your minions will be quite busy doing other things and it can take a little time before your new room is ready.