Whether they were strapping people to an impossibly slow laser cutter, encasing them in gold or just dropping them into a pool full of peckish piranhas, the type of super-villains typified by the James Bond films always seemed to have a tremendous amount of fun. And I'm about to do the same, because with the aid of a few of my evil minions I'm about to steal the Eiffel Tower. See if you can beat that, David Copperfield!
Of course, I'll have to make room to house my new trickin' laser, and I really should expand my freezer room as the body bags are spilling out into the corridor -1 found a pathetic A.N.V.I.L operative sobbing over one only this morning. I immediately had him captured and tortured to death by one of my most evil henchmen. Well, it would have been rude not to.
As you've probably guessed, Elixir's new game Evil Genius is all about being evil and well... being a genius about it, which generally means not getting caught or letting people do things like infiltrate your base and blow up your command centre. You get to assume the role of one of three evil dictators, whose only real difference seems to be their henchmen.
Of course, being evil isn't about doing all the heavy lifting, so your evil avatar will spend most of his (or her) time in an inner sanctum plotting evil plans and practising his maniacal laughter. Needless to say. your first order of business is to build an evil base to house your plans, full of training equipment, torture devices, research labs and dastardly traps. You'd better build it well, too, as your base will soon be flooded by investigators, infiltrators, saboteurs, burglars and probably those who just want to check out what games you're playing and rock music you're listening to.
All these do-gooders will be looking for fame and fortune and, more importantly, to take down your evil self. You can let them have a nose around if you want, maybe even trick them into stealing something fake, practise using your torture equipment or send them to fill out the next body bag.
The Heat Is On
But that's only half the action. When you're not building up your base, you have to carry out masterful plans of world domination. These take place on a Risk-style campaign map, which allows you to send out your various operatives into different regions (once you've researched those areas in your command centre), and kidnap useful hostages, steal loot or carry out acts of infamy. It's actually quite a challenge to keep one eye on who's wandering into your base and the other on overseeing your acts of evil. But no-one ever said being an evil dictator was going to be easy.
Carrying out all these evil activities gains you 'heat', or notoriety in the various areas in which you deploy your minions, all of which are controlled by their own political and military forces. Heat can be good for attracting the attentions of other crime bosses and potential henchmen, but it also can make things hard for your guys when they're trying to carry out acts of infamy or are just creaming off a bit of wealth from the region's fat cats. Too many body bags left around also generates heat as does killing tourists - but when you see them you'll certainly want to.
The graphics in Evil Genius aren't really much to look at. They're done in a blocky, slightly cartoonish style that isn't too pretty, but it's quite entertaining, especially with all the little details that Elixir has added. In fact the game is packed full of great touches, from your guards doing Michael Jackson impressions to torture prisoners to the funny news reports you get from the various nations after you complete or fail missions. There are also some eminently hummable evil tunes that help the humour along nicely.
It's a shame that your geniuses can't get involved on a more hands-on level, but their henchmen certainly add a bit of personality to the game. Rather than being a traditional mission by mission affair, Evil Genius simply gives you new options as you go along so you'll actually be maintaining the same base for quite a while. It's a little boring to start with, but once the heat starts ramping up you'll have plenty to do and you'll actually get quite attached to your desert island home.
There's definitely a lot to enjoy about Evil Genius. Like Austin Powers it adopts the faux-Bond villain theme very well, without becoming too camp or dampening the challenges. Above all, it's hugely entertaining and manages to keep dishing out the surprises all the way through. For now at least, evil wins the day.
Download Evil Genius
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Ah, Those were the days - the 1950s/1960s Cold War period, when masterminds of terror attempted to destroy the world by building a giant laser out of diamonds or irradiating the gold supply, rather than using cowardly suicide attacks or crude dirty' bombs. Evil Genius is Elixir Studios' latest strategy game, a light-hearted homage to the kind of tongue-in-cheek baddies and henchmen who populated the James Bond and Austin Powers movies.
Your first task in Evil Genius is choosing which supervillain you want to be - short, balding Blofeld-lookalike Maximilian, sultry temptress Alexis or Ming the Merciless/Fu Manchu hybrid Shen Yu - with the ultimate aim of constructing a terrifying doomsday device.
However, you begin the game about as notorious as Jeremy Beadle, and you really won't convince the world you're a serious threat if you continue to conduct your nefarious business from your mum and dad's house. So, after getting a quick overview from the excellent tutorial, you set about creating an underground base for your supervillain (we chose Shen Yu). Do this by clicking on the malleable rock, then dragging-and-dropping blueprints for corridors and rooms, which are soon built by scurrying construction workers.
Although you never control your minions directly (apart from henchmen, but more on that later), managing your staff is a major part of Evil Genius. There are three distinct groups of minions: military (for security), scientists (for research) and social (for general duties such as construction). Each group has their own tech tree that you have to develop through training and other techniques, including kidnapping people from abroad. Plus, each individual has five statistics, such as health and loyalty, that you have to keep a beady electric eye on. All these helpful and dispensable slaves react automatically to the decisions you make in the simulation - putting out fires, delivering equipment, interrogating suspects, researching weaponry and killing enemies. This then leaves you free to concentrate on completing the mission objectives (such as luring the criminal underworld bosses to your island), cackling insanely and other important elements of megalomania.
Next, we turn our attention to the world map. Here, you can start infiltrating countries with your minions to siphon money into your pocket. You can also attempt sneaky plots to capture valuable characters such as scientists or equipment such as NASA rocket parts - and then use these to research your ultimate doomsday weapon.
Unfortunately, this creates heat in the countries and their respective law enforcement agencies soon begin sending their spies to check out your now not-so-secret base. The first wave are pretty stupid and blunder into traps you set for them. However, as your notoriety increases, countries send smarter and smarter agents until you must face the almost-indestructible James Bond-style super-agents.
To deal with all these agents you need henchmen - the Jaws and Oddjob of Evil Genius - with a total of 12 available, including Colonel Blackheart, a colonial hunter with a wooden leg. You can control him directly to summon minions, or use his special powers of laying r mantraps or summoning a monkey bomber to kill or capture foes.
After several hours of play, we'd only scratched the surface of this involving and entertaining RTS. We're already looking forward to getting our goldfingers' on the finished game - expect a full review soon.
Unbelievably, This Is the first time Evil Genius has appeared in the budget pages, four years since it first trained a laser beam of bugged charm between the legs of a moderately surprised public. A tutorial sees your supervillain introduced to his volcano home, controllable henchman, the minions who run lair and train up to be specialised units for when the good guys attack. If they start slacking, you execute someone to make sure that everyone remains motivated. It's sensible, amoral touches like that put the try-hards like Manhunt to shame.
Evil Genius is much deeper than its fantasy-based inspiration, Dungeon Keeper, with a world map and global campaign of terror, culminating in the building of your very own Doomsday Device. This all lets you feel like you're playing your own game, instead of a series of numbered levels. The style of the game, not to mention the incredible original score, is so strong that even with the flaws (which have been mostly fixed with official and unofficial patches) it'll stick in your memory forever.
If you've never played Evil Genius before, do so now. Or we release the cyborg warthogs.
Essentially A Strategy title with added 'muhahahaha' content that's best played while simultaneously stroking a white cat, Evil Genius takes all of your bad guy fantasies and wraps them up in one accessible package.
Taking the basic gameplay of Dungeon Keeper, you have to construct your evil lair and combine it with some strategic Risk-style manoeuvring, while simultaneously preventing any do-gooders from infiltrating your base and messing up your plans for world domination via the use of your evil henchmen and some fiendish traps. Graphically, the game's always been more Austin Powers than James Bond and things can descend into micro-management mayhem, but this is mostly countered with a liberal dose of evil humour. Oh, and it has evil monkeys. What more could you want?