Evil Genius - Review

Evil Genius is a base-builder/minion management game developed by Elixir Studios and published by Vivendi Universal Games.  It was released on 24th September, 2004 before various purchases and organisational changes saw the rights transferred to Rebellion Developments.  Vivendi was eventually merged into Activision in 2008.

It's clear to see where the team drew a lot of their inspirations for the game, with many Villain clichés from the James Bond series being present, and gamely very reminiscent of the 1997 game Dungeon Keeper.

A basic lair starting to take shape with barracks, armoury, control room, freezer room and power generator
You have a choice of three geniuses to choose from: Maximilian, a wealthy industrialist who want to obtain advanced research and technological supremacy; Alex is, an elegant multi-millionaire heiress commanding loyalty and respect; and Shen Yu, a super-criminal, turned special agent, turned evil genius with a network of conspirators around the globe.  I can't see any noticeable difference to gameplay other than a different henchman. 

Taking a plot directly out of a bad spy movie, you arrive on a small island in the middle of the ocean which has a large mountain.  You will develop your underground lair within this mountain.

Top Left: Pesky investigators being eliminated whilst snooping.  Top Right: Body bags stored in a freezer.  Bottom: Interrogating a captured maid to unlock the Valet advanced minion
To start with, your base only has a capacity for a few minions, so you will want to start out with a barracks which will allow you to sustain more minions.  You also start with the ability to build a strongroom, to store your spoils, and a control room, which will allow you to send your minions out into the world and build your notoriety (more about that later).

Once you have decided where you want to build a room, you will lay down a blueprint for it, similar to building the basic room shape in Two Point Hospital.  You can then also add various items to the room, some of which are specific for that room such as beds in barracks or holding cells in armouries.  Unlike TPH, however, the rooms are not built instantly.  You will need to wait for your minions to obtain TNT to blast the rock and then they will need to buy the items from the depot.  This is where you need to do a bit of a balancing act.  You want to have placed your strongroom deep enough in your base that any passing agents won't stumble into it easily, but also close enough to your base entrance that you minions don't have too far to walk with your piles of cash.

Planning a barracks in blueprint mode with lockers and beds, allowing the base to support more minions
Over time you will unlock more facilities which will help you carry out your evil deeds, such as a hotel which can be used as a cover for the activity on the island, and also a source of victims.  From time to time you may also find that there are investigators or other civilians on the island.  If the investigators leave the island with any evidence you wi gain heat.  You can tag these to be killed by your minions or henchman.  Once killed, the body will generate a body bag which decays over time.  This will, however, lower the loyalty of your minions when they see them.  You can negate this area effect by building a freezer room where your minions will store the body bags, but it will take longer for them to decay.  Alternatively you can capture them and place them into a holding cell before interrogation, which may also unlocked advanced minion types. 

If you're anything like me, you will soon find that you are running short on cash.  Once your control room is up and running you gain access to the world domination screen.  This is a world map where you can see the areas covered by the 5 security forces.  To deploy your minions, you simply select the region your wish to send them to and choose how many to send.  Once they have arrived, you can select one of three jobs: plotting; stealing; and hiding.  

The World Domination screen showing minions being deployed by helicopter.  White dots signify Acts of Infamy
Plotting allows your minions to gradually uncover new Acts of Infamy which will give a boost to your notoriety, stealing will earn you cash over time depending on how many minions are deployed, with some regions giving higher return, and hiding will cause your minions to lay low to reduce heat in the region.  You need to keep an eye on you deployed forces though, as sometimes they may be discovered and killed by security forces. 

For a game which has recently celebrated its 14th birthday it still holds up well.  The management aspect, particularly balancing the number of deployed minions to ensure a steady flow of cash whilst having enough to staff and patrol your island, although dead minions will be automatically recruited into vacant roles.  There are even a few mods available for the game, for example to enable 1080 resolution, available on nexus mods.  If you don't own it yet its well worth a purchase, and at the time of writing is currently on sale at GOG.com for £1.99 (regular price £7.79) or available for £6.99 from Steam if preferred.  Rebellion are also developing a sequel and, although there has been no news for a while, I am assured this project is still active. 

Evil Genius - Review Evil Genius - Review Reviewed by Parcival on December 07, 2018 Rating: 5

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