Is world domination one of your life goals? Ever want to show your qualities as an evil leader of a world that trembles before you? Have hoards of minions at your beck and call? Utterly destroy the good spies and world powers? Well, my friend, now you can through Evil Genius.
To succeed in the game, you'll need to steal money from around the world to finance your evil deeds. You'll need to build a base of operations that can be protected from all intruders. You'll need to find experts to train your minions in advanced skills. You'll need a full research lab to be able to develop new weapons, traps and items. You'll also need some time and patience because this game does take some time to complete.
The tutorial is a good introduction to basics of game play. But it won't teach you everything and many good hints will appear during the game load process. Once you master the interface, the game may seem pretty easy. But the challenge level increases as you play, so don't expect it to all be a walkover.
The major aspect you are aiming to increase in the game is your notoriety. As you perform Acts of Infamy (AoI) and increase your loot, your notoriety increases. This will increase the number of henchmen you may have, the number of minions you can obtain, and brings up new objectives. Unfortunately, most things that increase your notoriety will also increase 'heat'. Heat is a measure of how much the world powers realise about your organisation. Two ways to decrease heat are time (heat decreases slowly when you commit no new AoI) and making sure no one leaves the island with proof of your evil deeds.
The tool bar is across the bottom of the main screen. From here you can access the menu, examine the minimap, check your power levels, access the current objectives, see the overall world domination progress, quickly check the amount of cash you have, number of minions and henchmen. There are buttons to take you to the evil genius or the henchmen. You also have access to a minion screen where you can set how many of each minion type you would like or access the research screen. Finally you can set the base to alert, go to the world domination screen or pull up the glossary. About the only things that you can't do in the toolbar is pause the game or zoom (easily done via keyboard).
You can pause the game at any point. While it isn't necessary to pause, I find pausing regularly allows me to:
The game begins with you having one henchmen and three basic worker minions. The henchman that you begin with depends on your chosen evil genius. My successful game was with Shen Yu, which means that I had Lord Kane as my first henchmen.
Henchmen are almost indestructable, and each have special abilities that can be unlocked through experience. Your henchmen can be sent to a specific point on the island, off to assist in world domination, or off to deal with an agent. Henchmen do not die during world domination missions, though they may have to return to the island. They do not die from normal agents. They can be killed by super agents and if they die three times, you have permanently lost that henchman.
Minions are lesser individuals that cannot be controled directly. You begin the game with only one type of minion available, and will need to find experts who can train your minions to do other jobs. Once minions learn a new occupation, you can always train more as long as you have one or more of that type or higher available.
You must regularly sweep the island and tag enemies as you see fit. Untagged enemies can waltz straight into your base (see gripe below) and so you should tag all of them unless they are very far from any base entrances. Tagging the tourists
Most important of all is to tag all super agents from the moment they appear on the island. Each super agent has key music associated with them, heralding their arrival on your island. Since only a super agent can kill one of your henchmen, you must treat these invaders with care.
The minions can't be controlled directly and they are far far too stupid to realise that you do not want anybody in your base. So if you fail to tag an enemy agent, they can wander around your base gathering evidence and heat. Since heat is something you should avoid when possible, you'll need to tag them quickly.
I'd really love to have someway to bookmark and quickly zip back to one spot. You spot some soldiers that the henchmen should deal with. You can jump to the henchmen with ease using the buttons. But you then need to select that henchmen then scroll back to the soldiers to set the henchman on them. Then select the next henchman and repeat.
Not enough contrast in the colours on the minimap. The red for enemy agents stands out fairly well but orange for fighting and pink for tourists is subtle and easy to miss. Plus the same blue colour seems to be used for minions who need to recuperate and henchmen/evil genius locations.
There are bugs that you may or may not trigger. Apparently you can have too much cash when moving to the second island. That one I had no problems with but if you have been doing a lot of money grubbing in the world map, you may.
This is a highly addictive and quite fun game. There is a lot of strategy in how to manage your minions, build your base, distribute the ill-gotten gains around the base. There is no single right or wrong path. My play style for this game has been on the slow and cautious side, whenever my heat starts attracting soldiers, I pull everyone back to base till things cool back down. Others may want to have a faster and more dangerous game and so will leave minions out in the world much longer.
Unlike many games of this type, you don't have to micro-manage everything. Money is only spent when you buy new items or increase the number of minions hired. You have control over the ultimate numbers of minions, though not which should get trained when.
Final rating 4.5 of 5.
The game is compared to Dungeon Keeper quite a lot, and with good reason. Both are strategy games where you are working for the side of evil, not good. Each has its own charm and wicked humour.
To get the full effect of the humour in the game, you need to be at close range. I spend so much time zoomed out so I can see the big picture that I miss a great deal of the small stuff.
It's only the second review I've ever done where I felt compelled to add some advanced tips and possible spoilers. Depending on how used that file is, I may do more or never ever again.
For other help with the game, visit Evil Genius chat forums where world domination is a way of life.