It’s time to take over the world, again. Rebellion Games returns with the follow-up to 2004’s acclaimed Evil Genius. That’s a noticeably large gap in-between releases, due to studio changes and other logistics involved. The question is whether this will be a benefit or a detriment to the newly-released sequel. Does Evil Genius 2: World Domination live up to the expectations? Will it take an evil genius to make that judgement? There’s only one way to find out. (Disclaimer: I have not played the first release so comparisons will be based on observation over experience.)
In The Name Of Evil
Select one of four geniuses to plan your global conquest. Choose between an operational labor exploiter, a war mongrel, an almost robotic scientific egoist, or a spy villain. After selecting your anti-hero and choice of landscape to bas your lab out of, it’s time to get to work. You’ll see the contour boundaries of your evil lair filled with sediment, in which you can send your minions to clear corridors and rooms. It gives you an architectural sense of creativity being able to scale each and every room size. Just keep in mind you have the proper space for a door; doors are not sizeable.
From there, via tutorial, you’ll be introduced to all of the nuts and bolts of Evil Genius 2, and there are quite a few. Learn about recruiting and grooming henchmen, going on scientific and global crusades, and gaining intel from prisoners with your technologically adept interrogation means. The tutorial lends itself well to teach you all of the mechanics with voice narration as well. However, I did find myself clicking around, building required rooms, and expansions to satiate the tutorial goals and losing a bit of focus during the process. This is mainly due to the specific sizes, positions, and general requirements to be able to construct certain things which aren’t always clarified.
A Wrench In The Machine
One mechanic that took me a minute to get used to was the [confirm all]. When carving corridors, laying down floor tiles, and installing engines, etc., be mindful to press [confirm all]. That way your changes will be permanent. When adding one thing to another, it gives the illusion that your edits are final, like in Sim City. I would complete objectives, and try to add to my expansions, and [confirm all] wouldn’t accept the changes. Either something was misaligned, a room wasn’t the right size, or other vague reasons. I would mistakenly revert the changes which deleted everything I did in the past few minutes. This created headaches and the feeling of having your time wasted, even after completing an objective. Similar to what I mentioned in the tutorial, this issue could be derived from my lack of competence, instead of the overall game design. Tt was still a huge paint point nonetheless.
Evil Personality (or lack of)
While Evil Genius 2 has a lot going for it, in terms of bells and whistles, one area that could have been explored more was the overall presentation. The graphics are clean and in detail, and it’s captivating to watch all of the henchmen hard at work under your command, but the music, and personality don’t add much to the experience as a whole. The dialogue cutscenes are there mainly for the sense of being there. With the concept of playing a vibrant Evil Mastermind, I expected some jokes or one-liners to compliment the cartoony design. Sadly there wasn’t much there. The music isn’t very memorable either, which is important in games with an emphasis on building, scaling, and patience. This was a huge missed opportunity, and I wonder if the previous title had that spark I’m looking for in this one.
Evil Genius 2 gets a lot right. The visuals are in good detail, and the overall gameplay is engaging and challenging. The issues come from whether that spark of joy is sustainable or not. The lack of a decent soundtrack and any humor or personality may sway those on the fence in the wrong direction. Those whom have experience playing both titles seem to prefer the first one, and I can understand why.