Evil Genius was a cult basic for a motive – and so its sequel performs it secure to ship a well-known however very enjoyable belated follow-up.
The way in which I see it, if you’re making a sequel to one thing that got here out a really very long time in the past, you possibly can go one among two methods. On one hand, you possibly can take the time handed as a possibility to take that franchise off in daring new instructions. On the opposite, you can merely convey what made the unique beloved up-to-date with trendy requirements and conventions. Evil Genius 2 is the latter – and it’s nice.
There’s nothing mistaken with being an interactive, secure sequel – particularly when the sport you’re following up on is now effectively over fifteen years previous. Evil Genius 2 is to its direct predecessor as Two Level Hospital is to the basic Theme Hospital – a revival that retains every little thing from the unique intact, with trendy trappings solely used to streamline and enhance the expertise slightly than overhaul it. It wasn’t damaged – so it hasn’t been mounted.
For the utterly uninitiated, Evil Genius 2 is a method and administration simulation sport that locations you within the sneakers of the titular Evil Genius. There are 4 completely different geniuses you possibly can select from, however the fundamental idea is similar: you set about constructing a hidden underground lair, and from there you start launching a marketing campaign of evil throughout the globe.
The unique sport launched in a kind of heyday of the administration sim, providing related mechanics to rivals however utilizing its distinctive theme to the total. The sequel is likewise, leaning laborious into the tropes of the spy fiction style, completely filled with references to the basic evil villains of different media – although the obvious touchstone stays the villains of the James Bond sequence and the various copycats and spoofs it has impressed through the years.
There’s basically two layers to Evil Genius: the lair and the world map. That is straight out of the unique, however I’ve heard somebody who hadn’t performed the primary Evil Genius additionally examine this to the duology supplied in Firaxis’ trendy XCOM reboots, which does kind of observe. The 2 are very completely different, however feed into one another and supply the core loop of the sport, which feels satisfying and interesting the vast majority of the time.
The lair is the extra advanced and demanding layer. Right here you’ll be constructing the required rooms and tools to take care of and develop your evil empire, but in addition attempting to expel intruders like nosy vacationers or enemy spies and saboteurs. Your choices for this are nice – you possibly can construct up a extra elaborate on line casino cowl operation to stop outsiders from discovering your base in any respect, or you possibly can beef up safety with traps and guards. Inside that, there’s a selection between deadly and non-lethal. You’ll be able to select to seize intruders so you possibly can interrogate them for worthwhile intelligence or brainwash them into changing into one other of your loyal minions, or you possibly can go deadly and stack your lair up with traps like shark pits and flamethrowers to depart no hint of these intruding enemies.
All of these items follows on a standard administration simulation observe, nevertheless, and meaning you received’t have entry to every little thing from the beginning, and also you’ll need to make laborious selections about what kind of lair you wish to have. You’ll have to prioritize gadgets for analysis, but in addition select which kinds of minions you wish to practice up, making certain you might have the correct amount of kit to take care of that workforce. Virtually every little thing you place in your lair is a drain on its energy reserves, too, which implies you’ll continuously must be increasing your turbines – however turbines are a very thrilling goal for enemy saboteurs, who know that by shutting off the ability they will disable traps and disrupt your complete operation.
As I’m positive my meandering description of all this makes clear, there’s a variety of plates spinning without delay. There’s crucially not too many, although. It’s a problem however hardly ever overwhelming, and that’s the recipe for a profitable administration technique title.
Secondary to all of that is the World Domination stage. That is merely a stylized 3D map of the world the place you possibly can handle your evil empire. That is extra oblique; your Evil Genius by no means leaves the lair, however as an alternative directs issues from their lavish inside sanctum – and so a map is all you see of the broader world. It’s very important to your operations, although, as you’ll be despatching minions on all kinds of diabolical deeds, from kidnapping those that can present helpful info to stealing cash and cultural artifacts, which may then be plopped into your lair as loot.
The world domination stage is a fundamental, easy, and even arguably somewhat boring piece of the Evil Genius 2 puzzle, but it surely’s additionally very important. It must be micromanaged to a level – draw an excessive amount of warmth on your self with too many felony jobs and areas of the world will ‘lock down’, reducing off worthwhile sources of earnings. Attracting an excessive amount of consideration may also summon the Forces of Justice, who’ll then descend upon your base in an try and disrupt you. Each motion you are taking has an related value, be that financial, in minions you have to sacrifice after which change, or within the warmth it brings in your operation. Like the bottom, the world map step by step builds from easy to a complete lot to handle, but it surely all meshes brilliantly.
There’s a very good problem, although it’s a markedly much less punishing sport than the unique. That’s not all dangerous, both – the unique usually felt unfairly troublesome, with brokers massively overpowered. There’s a better sense of stability right here. If you’re underneath probably the most strain you’ll be continuously bouncing backwards and forwards between your lair and the map with an enormous to-do record in your head, sending out minions to steal further funds earlier than you run out of gold, and dealing in direction of your fundamental targets.
Talking of targets, that’s one other manner by which Evil Genius units itself aside. These kinds of video games are typically story-light, however this sequence is completely different. Every genius has their very own storyline with particular targets, a novel super-weapon which upgrades as you progress, and a bunch of voiced dialogue to again all of it up.
Aims are accomplished each within the lair and on the map. You may need to seize or kill sure intruders in your island base, for example, have your scientists analysis one thing, or carry out a heist or different process on the world stage. This doesn’t simply go for the primary story, which progresses from one goal to the subsequent in a strictly linear vogue, but in addition for the aspect quests and targets, that are plentiful. At some factors I had upwards of fifteen aspect duties stacked up ready for my consideration – and it’s as much as you if you wish to have interaction with these or not, and to what extent.
Usually talking it would be best to get entangled in lots of of those tales, although. The simplest ones on the very least supply highly effective one-off merchandise rewards which you can place in your lair. However the higher aspect tales put you in touch with Henchmen and Brokers, vibrant characters that in flip supply up a number of the most narratively wealthy and enjoyable storylines within the sport.
Henchmen could be recruited to hitch your operation, however first you’ll need to disrupt their actions as a solo crime lord out on the world map. Tremendous Brokers are the opposite aspect of the coin, after all – ridiculously highly effective NPCs who can wreak havoc in your operations, together with apparent Bond stand-in John Steele. There’s loads of voiced interactions between every Evil Genius and all of those characters, and also you received’t truly get to know all of them. It’s unimaginable to recruit each single Henchman in a single play-through – which provides to the alternatives you’re making whereas spinning a complete bunch of different plates.
All informed, it’s fairly brilliantly partaking. The one time all of this falters is if you’re inevitably ready for one thing. Every part takes time – analysis, map operations, coaching minions, even seize and interrogation. Generally, particularly early on earlier than the sport fingers you one million issues to do, you may find yourself sitting again and twiddling thumbs for just a bit too lengthy. This combines sadly with the truth that I feel the primary narrative truly typically drags on somewhat too lengthy between main milestones as you ramp up your super-weapon and start to apply it to the planet. The final appeal of the sport helps to stop any of these emotions changing into too onerous, nevertheless.
A lot of that ambiance is owed to the really good musical rating, which hits all of the melodic touchstones of the movies this sport so readily borrows from. The way it swings between the dramatic and the camp additionally slots completely with the final tone, which is enjoyable first. This can be a foolish, campy imaginative and prescient of the world, and each facet of the sport from its nice over-the-top animations to only how vibrant it’s drives that residence. It is smart, too, if you’re hollowing out a volcano lair and fronting it with a luxurious on line casino whereas seeing off larger-than-life tremendous brokers.
In fact I want Evil Genius 2 obtained somewhat extra diverse within the late sport, however I can also’t complain an excessive amount of. Between the evaluation interval and the sooner preview, I’ve performed over eighty hours of this sport – there’s clearly greater than sufficient to maintain one entertained. Finally, you possibly can’t beat the sensation of when every little thing goes effectively – or the sense of panic if you pan throughout your lair and see one among your valuable energy plant rooms ablaze, with the saboteurs that lit the flame now sneaking to a different valuable room. It’s the great sort of panic, and hitting the purple alert button to wash the lair in purple gentle and set alarms blaring all the time feels satisfying.
It’d even be straightforward to want that Evil Genius 2 did somewhat extra with the idea, too. You’ll be able to see gaps for enlargement – like I really feel there’s ample house for extra to be added to fight, given how vital battle is to the sport, for example. However I can also’t blame Insurrection for beginning this revival with what made Evil Genius nice to start with.
Every part that made that unique sport particular, and in the end a cult basic, is faithfully and lovingly reproduced right here. It’s a secure reimagining, however merely on benefit of all of the small modernizing touches, which add as much as loads, it’s additionally fairly clearly a greater sport than the unique – and contemplating how a lot I beloved that sport, that’s no small feat. I can see many extra hours in my lair forward – and with potential updates and DLC down the road to deal with some points, true world domination might nonetheless be forward.
Model examined: PC (Steam). A duplicate of the sport was supplied by the writer.