Updated: October 10, 2009
What do you get when you mix James Bond and Austin Powers? You get Evil Genius, of course! Evil Genius is a crazy game unlike any you've ever seen. It's a world domination simulation, with classic real-time strategy elements spiced with unique offshoots of pure sweet madness.
The game begins with a short introduction movie played in the corniest British accent ever, of a bunch of secret agents discussing what an evil genius operation would look like. A self-respecting world-domination-obsessed megalomaniac could not just run a corporation that leeches the world dry. No, certain standards must be met. It has to be an underground lair, set on a volcano island. The underground base must have it all, barracks for troops, a research facility where evil plans are concocted and lots of traps to ensnare the secret agents trying to undermine the noble effort. And so the game begins. Only you happen to play the Evil Genius and not the law. Aha!
Welcome to my underground lair, so they say
You begin with an entrance carved into the bedrock, a handful of troops aptly called minions, a vault with some initial gold deposits to get your operation running, yourself, and a henchman. Henchmen are super-troops with special abilities, who can rally minions to their side and perform all sorts of nefarious tasks in your name. At first, you only have one, but as your evil dominance grows, more of them come to your side.
There are three Evil masterminds to choose from, each with a different set of abilities and unique Henchman. There's Maximilian, a Dr. Evil like character, Alexis who's somewhat like Cruella de Vil, and Shen Yu, a typical Asian evil dude, probably sparked by Dr. No slash Lo pan from Big Trouble in Little China.
Your Evil Genius will be alone at first. But then, once you gain quite a bit of notoriety, you will also get a personal bodyguard. Each mastermind will have his/her own unique bodyguard. For example, Alexis will have a strapping, handsome lad, wearing only trousers and a smart little bowtie.
Your henchmen are also special characters. Think the Chinese guy throwing steel-rimmed hat in Goldfinger. Yup. The henchmen can't be killed. If they sort of die, they will return later on, after recuperating from the defeat.
They also have all sorts of special abilities, including super-kill. Unlike other minions, they can be controlled directly and told where to go and what to do. You will use them to protect your stupid mass workforce on the world map, when performing evil deeds, and to get rid of enemy soldiers, if - and they will - attack you. Their unique abilities will grows as they get involved in more and more fighting with the forces of good.
To keep in line with the wacky humor of the game, the henchmen are also modeled after real characters in a way. For example, Crazy Ivan looks and speaks like Arnold in Red Heat. Eli Barracuda is Shaft gone to the dark side.
Your goal in the game is to establish a flourishing, self-sustained base that has it all: lodgings for your troops, a kitchen where they can eat, a recreation room, a power unit. But that's hardly all. You will have to place doors to deter secret agents and soldiers of different world alliances from wandering freely into your base. You will also have to place camera inside and outside the base, so you can keep surveillance on what is happening. Outdoor cameras will have to be camouflaged, too.
You will also need klaxon to alert your troops where there's a breach to your base. Your troops will also demand sports facilities, so you will require gym gear, too. You will have to train them to improve their abilities, so a well-established training facility will also have to be taken into account. They will also need a medical facility.
Fire extinguishers will also have to be placed in the corridors, so if something catches fire, your people will be able to handle it. You will have to pay special attention to your powerplant room, where your evil nuclear reactors will be.
A part of your world domination scheme will include going around the world and performing evil deeds. You will be asked to kidnap engineers, technicians, scientists, and doctors, so you can interrogate them and glean their secrets. To this end, you will need a big, lovely interrogation chamber. And if some of your prisoners happen to die, then you will also need a morgue, to keep the dead bodies on the freezer rack. Many soldiers entering your base will also meet the dire fate, so you'll need quite a few of those racks.
Your base will also have to be built in a smart way, with confusing corridors and false doors leading nowhere to stall the agents of the law. You will also have to set traps to keep them confused. Then, you will have to hide your suspicious assets, like the interrogation chamber, far from the entrance.
Your evil self will also require a big control room, from where to watch the world and stage the evil deeds. The control room will be built in the best retro-futuristic style of the late 60s, when the myth of the super agent was born and shaped, with lots of CRT monitors and antique mainframes. To say nothing of the sickly green-brown color that so fits the era. James Bond would have loved to blow this control room to pieces!
Of course, you will need a trophy room, as well, for all those precious items your minions will steal. Speaking of stealing, enemy forces will try to loot your gold, so your vault will have to be protected.
Soldiers will often come to your island, stumbling about, interfering with your work. You will have to convert some of your minions in valets and later diplomats and spindoctors, who will go about the island, mingling with the unwanted guests, distracting them so your operation can run smoothly. You will also have tourists, all of whom like a typical Florida relic, mumbling around. They will often panic when they see your secret pair and run around wildly, screaming, drawing attention. Your minions will have to fawn over them, polishing their shoes, dusting their coats and entertaining them with stupid tricks.
You will also be able to build a hotel, where tourists will be able to check in and keep busy. It will also prove a worthy distraction for the soldiers, especially if you lock one or two of the doors. They will waste hours trying to pick them, only to find nothing interesting on the other side.
Then, there's going to be a big powerplant, possibly nuclear, and a big laboratory with bubbling green stuff and lasers, where you will produce mutant freaks and other crazy things. Your scientists will wander around the base, looking for things to research. Later on, you will also research your prisoners, oh-oh.
To earn gold and expand your operation, you will have to send your minions around the world. They will be used to uncover the location of special artifacts, the presence of skilled workers whom you'll wish to kidnap and will also be stealing money.
For each nefarious deed, you will gain heat and notoriety. These two factors will determine how unpopular you are. The higher the heat, the more often the enemy soldiers will come after you. The more notorious you are, the more profitable items will show around the map. Notoriety will also draw new henchmen to you and unlock new missions.
You will have to use your minions wisely to perform different missions. Stealing money is best left to soldiers. Diplomats will reduce heat. Technicians and physicists will reduce the time needed to complete a mission. Henchmen will protect your minions from secret agents, although you will often lose a few now and then.
After you become respectably evil, super agents will come to your island and start pestering you. You won't be able to kill them and they'll wreck havoc on your men and equipment. You will have to devise special diabolical plans to get rid of them. It will be quite tricky and frustrating.
And after you master your first island, you'll have to do it all over again on the second one. All this toward the ultimate goal: building a super weapon and defeating the world powers!
Evil Genius is a rather difficult game. It's complex and has many aspects of keep track of. While you may easily master control of your base, you won't be able to handle the soldiers and tourists very easily. They will often stumble into your base, interfering with your work. Soldiers will also often draw fire against your people. They will also try to demolish your hotel, setting it on fire and detonating things. The super agents will really piss you off.
You will also have to keep an eye on the world scene. And on top of all that, continue doing required missions and perform extensive research in your lab, without which you won't be able to unravel the secret formulas imperative to success in the later stages of the game.
Evil Genius is probably the funniest game I've ever played. It's one big innuendo. For example, the female announcer that informs you of the various malfunctions around your base, like low power or enemy intrusion detected, has a rather inconspicuous, metallic-sounding voice not unlike Frau Farbissina from Austin Powers.
Then, whenever you double-click on any one of the minions, the camera will zoom in on them and they will salute you smartly. But not before shaking a leg, scratching their crotch or throwing some other innocent, imbecile gesture.
|Mariana Mamba, a scantily-clad Charlie's Angels-like super agent getting serious confused by your evil traps|
The game also encourages the use of wicked traps, each more oligophrenic than the other. In fact, the more diabolically complex our trap system is, the more money you will receive for each poor sod that falls victim to your evil mechanics. Combine a piranha tank with a gas chamber and a magnet and you get all sorts of fun.
Torture also gets special attention in the game. Your missions will include necessary interrogation. But it won't be anything simple and linear, as you might expect. Your minions will be able to torture the victims by placing them into the green-slime vats or perhaps the blender in the kitchen. But it all has a rather sweet note to it.
The game has a perfect musical scope. A pure masterpiece. Just for fun, I recommend you head to Youtube and listen to some of the tracks. For example, the simply breathtaking intro music. No wonder it won so many awards.
Evil Genius is a great game. It's very complex, quite difficult - but great fun nevertheless. It can take some time getting used, especially since it's so easy to get lost in the maze of options the game offers. Keeping your base operations is a daunting task, on top of which you will have tourists, soldiers and the world law enforcement agencies pestering you.
I love this game and play it quite often. Personally, I find the first island to be much more fun than the later missions. It's more straightforward, with focus on establishing your base and making it pretty yet functional. Super advanced research and almost movie-like plotting required to get rid of super agents is almost impossible to master on your own without taking a peek or two at what Google has to say about finishing the game.
If you live dark, cynical humor like Austin Powers, Evil Genius is the perfect game for you. It has everything the movies did, only you get to direct it. Whole family fun all over, except you're an orphan, if you get my meaning. The game was released in 2004, so it's kind of old, but who cares? It looks great, it plays great and is tremendous fun. Which me reminds me, good, modern computer games pretty much stopped coming out somewhere in 2004 or so.
Well, this kind of game deserves only one kind of farewell: muahahahahahahahaha!