Evil Genius Review

We plot an evil plan in this strategy game in which you get to play a genius, although an evil one.

Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 12th October 2004

Evil Genius

  • Developer: Elixir Studios
  • Publisher: Vivendi Universal
  • Release Date: 1st October 2004

Despite what we all say, when it comes to good guy action movies such as James Bond, we can’t help but love the bad guys, even if they do stand around spending more of their time gloating about what they’re about to do than actually doing it. We’ve had Dr No from the Bond movies and of course, the one and only Dr Evil from Austin Powers, now it’s your turn to be truly e-e-evil and take over the world!

In Evil Genius you obviously take on the roll of an evil genius who’s just starting out in organised crime and world domination. You start out at the very bottom and throughout the course of the game you must build a lair from where you can hatch you e-e-evil plan to take over the world.

Your first steps to becoming an evil genius are to create your image and choose from three evil bad guys to represent you, a tall and mysterious looking Chinese man, a short and stumpy Danny Devito look alike and the tall, well dressed female that tends to be present in every evil empire. None of the characters have any significant strengths or weaknesses over each other each other and simply serve as your avatar in the game world.

After choosing your evil character you must begin work on creating your evil lair which will naturally be carved into a rock on an island in an undisclosed location, you start off with three workers that take care of all the building work and the various other manual task that need doing around any evil base. A henchman is also provided to other your evil genius protection from anyone agents that might come along and try and stop you in your tracks.

Creating your lair starts off with you approving blueprints for specific rooms such as the Control Room, Staff Room and Training room and once approved your workers get down to business collecting dynamite from the depot in preparation for blowing up a hole in the rock where the room will lay. Once the room is finished you get to furnish it with room specific objects such as the bunk beds in the barracks, desks in the training room and holding cell in the armoury. Again, once the plans for the objects have been approved your workers will (or should!) get to work collecting and placing them in a spot of your choice and thankfully, all items can be moved after they have been placed allowing you to change and re-arrange your lair when ever you require it.

For me, creating the lair, complete with security cameras and traps proved to be the most enjoyable part of the game but it does have its problems, firstly the building mode is fairly restrictive as you can only build into rock and some parts of the rock can’t be moved to enable you to build in spots. This usually means your lair mainly consists of corridors rather than cool rooms with evil gadgets!

As mentioned earlier, the game starts you off with three workers and a henchman and at first, all you will be able to recruit is new workers. With the help of interrogation of prisoners and general training simple minions can be trained up to higher standards allowing you to recruit various men within three types of minion, Military, Social and Science. The military category includes the combat trained minions such as guards (who can use guns and benefit from better health), Mercenaries (who are trained to use heavy rifles), Marksmen (long distance attack minions) and of course, your token martial artists who bring obvious training with them. Social Minions are responsible for the general running and care of your base, they include Valets (can use fire extinguishers, weaken enemies by breaking their concentration and will carry collapsed comrades to their beds), Spin Doctors (masters of manipulation and can lower enemies intelligence), Diplomats (can offer bribes and make enemies lose their loyalty) and finally Playboys who are generally good at most things. Your science minions are responsible for your research and the technical running of your lair, they include the Technicians who carry out repairs on your base, and you then have scientists who conduct different types of research.

Gameplay wise Evil Genius is quite enjoyable once you have got your empire ticking over. However until then the game does have its problems. Firstly simple minions are not controllable directly by you which means that half the time they wonder around being useless and carrying out orders when they feel like it, this means that you could have a number of rooms waiting to be built, objects to be placed and prisoners to interrogate and a bunch of workers will just be stood around doing nothing and unfortunately, all you can do in this situation is kill one of them to spring the others into action! Also, the general pace of the game is extremely slow with no option of speeding things up, it takes ages for a minion to walk from one end of your lair to another and rooms seem to take forever to be built meaning a lot of your time is spent watching rather than playing. Also, the A.I of minions leaves a lot to be desired, from time to time agents, thieves and general enemies will sneak into your base and take photographs, destroy or steal things and unfortunately, minions will walk straight past them whilst they do it unless you directly place a ‘kill’ tag on each one of them! This soon becomes tedious as you are constantly looking out for the red (enemy) dots on the radar and have to see to each one yourself, even if they make it as far as your minion packed control room.

Apart from the goings on in your immediate area, if you wish to build up your evil empire you will have to stray from the safety of your unnamed island. At the bottom of the screen is a panel which allows you access to the global map, your empire statistics and your objectives list which will occasionally flash with a new goal such as building a barracks of something a little more complicated like sending someone over to India to track down another crime lord. Sending your men across the world is simply a case of clicking on a specific country and deciding how many and which type of minion you wish to send there and for what purpose. There are three options when it comes to business abroad, that is to steal (provide a nice little cash flow back at the base), plot (track down those not so evil do-gooders and bribe them for instance!) and hide, hiding is usually a good idea once the ‘heat’ (unwanted attention, not the weather) in a country gets too much. Plotted around the global map are also side objectives which you can choose to complete involving kidnapping, stealing and generally naughty behaviour, each objective will tell you how many men you need and will automatically tell you later on whether or not the objective was completed, if it was, great. If not, you may have just lost all the men you sent there!

On the graphical side of things, Evil Genius places you into a colourful cartoon-ish environment with highly detailed objects from the conference table to the computer control terminals. Character animation is also good with various animation sequences such as the amusing interrogation scenes to the innocent looking table tennis games, everything looks the part and nothing here can be faulted on the graphical side. Audio, whilst not as good as the visuals has also been created brilliantly and everything from the music to the voice acting sounds the part.

So, what is it really like to be an evil genius? Well you can have a fantastic lair, hordes of loyal workers and tons of money but to be honest, it can be boring at times, you see, the truly evil one never gets to do any of the dirty work, they just sit and watch and what makes it worse is workers that don’t seem to have much between their ears making the ‘watching’ a frustrating task. Evil Genius is by no means a ‘bad’ game, it’s just a little slow and seems to have bits missing in places, fans of strategy/management type games will want to give it a shot at least and if you really do have an urge to be evil for a while, you can probably get your kicks from this game.

Review Score: 7/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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