I’ve been a fan of the spy genre ever since I watched my first Bond movie with my Dad when I was a kid. There’s something about the flamboyant portrayal of the world of a super spy that gave me tonnes of enjoyment, but it’s the idea of these super-villains with their over-the-top technology, abilities, and schemes that caught my attention the most. Naturally then, I was pretty enthused when Evil Genius launched back in 2004 and even today it still stands out to me as one of the most original and enjoyable strategy titles on PC. It seemed that its fate would be sealed when the original development team folded not long after its release, but (to my utmost joy) the team at Rebellion picked up the intellectual license and announced Evil Genius 2: World Domination. I’m happy to report that It’s JUST as good as the original game and brings with it plenty of fresh new ideas to re-invigorate the villainous experience.
For those of you who aren’t returners to this beloved gem of a game, Evil Genius 2: World Domination puts players in the shoes of a megalomaniac of their choosing (from four in total), each with their own distinct personality and long-term goals. You might fancy yourself all muscle and opt for Red Ivan, a burly Russian commandant who enjoys crushing do-gooders. Or maybe you’d decide to take someone who’s focused on deception with Emma, who provides you with ways to keep your activities under the radar. Finally, if those two aren’t your bag you could jump in with the hyper-intelligent Zalika and utilise science to outlast your foes or run with the despicable Maximillian (the titular character) who rules with money and minions.
Each genius has a distinct set of skills that will help players throughout the campaign, as well as a unique ‘Doomsday Device’ to unleash their will upon the world. It’s great to see a bit of variety in each character to keep the content fresh, whilst it was a nice touch that each had their own voices, skills and aptitudes to ensure their personality was fully embraced throughout each of the campaigns.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is first and foremost a base-building sim. The idea is to build a functional base that your minions can live, rest, and train in so that they can carry out evil deeds around the globe for you. You’ll get the opportunity at the start to choose from three distinct island lairs with a casino ‘cover’ racket to hide your nefarious machinations. Each one has pros and cons which are nicely laid out for you, as well as providing the information on the agencies that will be troubling your reign on your rise to becoming the overlord of the world.
Building on the island is a hell of a lot of fun with various rooms to choose from and an array of objects to really put your stamp on things. There’s the basic stuff you’d come to expect like power rooms, barracks, and infirmaries to keep your yellow jumpsuit wearing minions alive and your base running at tip-top condition, whilst more innovative contraptions are drip-fed in to expand your villainous potential. You’ll also be able to build something called the inner sanctum (which is as cool as it sounds), a place for your genius to sit back, relax, and do all of the thinking while the worker bees do all the heavy lifting. It’s tough being at the top, right? Each room allows you to place furniture independently and sometimes it can feel a little like playing Tetris, but once you’ve got the knack for it, you’ll find yourself feeling pretty impressed with your hidden aesthetic skills. I mean, I was at least… maybe heinous interior design is my super villain power?
Whilst all of this might not sound particularly ground-breaking as far as the genre is concerned, it’s the way in which your base comes together so satisfyingly effortlessly where Evil Genius 2: World Domination really shows it’s worth. Efficiency is key and finding the best way to make everything run smoothly is rewarding, whilst constantly upgrading your facilities and unlocking all-new options keeps the experience fresh and intuitive. You’ll even have access to some pretty hilarious traps like the freeze ray, bubble cannon, and a gigantic fan, just to name a few. These traps work wonders when it comes down to stopping your foes in their tracks – I found myself just creating trap rooms at one point and guffawing maniacally at the eventual demise of my enemies in various compromising fashions. I’ll admit it, there were countless times where I found myself miming ‘No, Mr. Bond… I expect you to die’, but that’s all part of being an evil genius, right?!
The space you have to create your base is pretty impressive too, with each island providing several floors for you to expand through. You are limited at first and are only able to dig through soft rock until you’ve researched ways to get through the tougher stuff, but once the expansion begins you’ll find plenty of room to really flesh out your lair. And there’s plenty of research to get through too, with multiple tiers unlocking at various points in the campaign to ensure you can always remain one step ahead of your rivals.
Once you’ve built a control room, you’ll get access to the ‘World Stage’; an overview map of the planet that details each territory where you can implement your wicked Schemes. The purpose of this is to provide you with the means to make cash (among other things) by scouting these territories with your minions and establishing crime networks. These have four potential levels you can upgrade through, opening up better Schemes for you to carry out with bigger rewards as you progress through the game. It’s a lot of fun, but I did find it a touch hectic at times switching between things happening at my base and on the map.
You’ll spend a lot of time switching between both, with many of the campaign’s main objectives being based around completing Schemes. The Schemes themselves vary in requirements and time to complete, with different tasks required to be accomplished to achieve success. To give an example, some Schemes require particular minion types (like scientists, valets or guards) whilst others may require the secondary resource intel, which is gathered autonomously through control panels or by interrogating the unlucky investigators who happen upon your base. There’s a lot more to do than just the main objectives too, with side missions and optional objectives available to keep players busy. Each side missions and main objective has an incremental story piece at the beginning and end, which normally amounts to an exchange between characters – I found these to be real treat with plenty of villainous tropes embraced throughout.
On occasion, and by on occasion I mean very regularly, you’ll be hounded by the various agencies that litter the world. Each territory has its own agency that will show up to cause trouble and impede your scheming. Each agency has a clever little acronym too, with groups such as P.A.T.R.I.O.T. or H.A.M.M.E.R. sending agents and investigators your way, looking to incriminate you and end your evil empire before it even begins. It’s pretty important to manage these guys if you want to a be a successful evildoer and avoid them destroying parts of your base.
You’ll even start getting house calls from super agents, and, like our geniuses, each has their own skill set and personality that sets them apart from the rest. To be fair, I enjoyed my encounters with these guys a whole lot, with each providing their own set of challenges to keep me on my toes. Try not to panic too much though; you’ll also have access to your own set of henchmen with some classy skills to stave of these holier-than-thou paragons of justice, so their ‘one man army’ approach won’t always be as successful as spy movies might suggest…
Evil Genius 2: World Domination retains the styling of its predecessor with its quirky and cartoonish visuals and it fits like a glove. It’s particularly in keeping with the theme of not taking itself too seriously and it lends itself well to the overall vibe of chaotic (yet charming) villainy. The soundtrack is perfect too, with it pumping out tracks that sound like they have come straight out of an Austin Powers movie.
Ultimately, everything vibes together to make for a fun and well-rounded experience. There’s plenty of hours in the title with each character’s campaign offering varying objectives, whilst the Sandbox Mode allows players to take on the mantle of a super villain without the worry of meeting specified objectives. Who would have thought that being so evil would be so damn enjoyable? (Me… I thought that…)
Rebellion have done a wonderful job in breathing life into Evil Genius 2: World Domination, with its satisfyingly villainous gameplay and charming presentation embracing the vibe of the original game perfectly. I always thought that the original was one of the genre’s most unique and fun titles, but the new ideas that have been implemented here don’t only add a modern twist to the established formula but better it too… it’s really good stuff.
Ultimately, with plenty of hours of spy killing fun to be had, Evil Genius 2: World Domination will turn players into the delegating and ruthless egomaniac they never knew they wanted to be – and believe me, they’ll have a damn good time in the process.
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)
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