MI6 reviews the latest game where you control an
evil empire in a James Bond style universe...
Evil Genius Review
6th December 2004
Evil Genius isn’t the only game this year promoting the
indubitable fact that it’s good to be bad, but unlike its
nemesis "GoldenEye: Rogue
Agent", here the idea has been executed marvelously.
Evil Genius is a real time strategy / simulation
- think "Dungeon Keeper" or "Theme Park"
set in a volcano lair as you play an evil mastermind with
many henchmen, laser beams and other generally evil toys
at your disposal.
While some of you will leap with joy at the idea of a Bondesque
game coming to this genre, some will no doubt roll back
under their dark, antisocial hubs and play first person
shooters until their fingers fall off. This is your chance
to make anew and lunge into the deep and surprisingly action-packed
PC game Evil Genius.
Evil Genius isn’t set around a high-tech, 21st century
spy story like you might expect, but surprisingly and perhaps
the best idea behind the game, it’s based on classic ‘60s
spy thrillers and naturally that’s where James Bond springs
to mind. The idea could have gone horribly wrong and been slated
as an attempt to cash in on the Bond franchise but thankfully,
this game isn’t a blatant copy of all things Bond and instead
carries the theme with style - boasting a range of original henchmen
and mini-missions. While you’ll certainly spot the references
to classic Bond villains like Blofeld
and indeed the tuxedoed secret agent himself, the rest is left
up to your imagination and that’s where this game truly
Whether or not you’ve played a game in this genre before
you’ll be able to pick up Evil Genius and get stuck in straight
away thanks to a quick tutorial and many further video hints which
will pop up in a snazzy looking GUI as and when you need them.
That’s not to say everything is explained perfectly, as
there are likely going to be times when it will take you a while
to figure out how to execute a feature, but overall this does
not distract from the gameplay.
You start the game by choosing from one
of three evil masterminds which is a nice touch, there’s
even a female evil genius for the ladies to play as. The
idea of the game is to build your base, train minions to
protect it and undertake missions to increase your power
and ‘notoriety’. You’d be wrong if you
thought this was all the game had to offer as it really
has oodles of depth in the real-time combat, research and
mission features which will keep you playing for months
Ultimately your aim as an Evil Genius is to gain ‘notoriety’
and build your Doomsday device for you-know-what, although
it’s not half as easy at it may seem.
The game’s clever mechanics keep you busy doing several
things at once ensuring you’re never left bored - whether
you’re keeping your eye on the world map (where you control
minions you are sending out on missions or to collect money) or
fighting off agents who try and sneak into your base to steal
back items or destroy your base, there’s always something
There’s even a whole minion class system where you can
train dumb military guards into kick ass Martial Artists, science
technicians into Quantum Physicists or social valets into dirty
Playboys to distract even the most hardcore of agents. No villain
would be complete without the aid of an evil henchman and luckily
there are about a dozen on offer for you to choose from as you
progress through the game, each of which have different special
abilities that are unlocked by an experience system. No two henchmen
are alike - so choose carefully! You can’t control minions
directly but you can with henchmen, and thankfully they don’t
require you to control them all the time and will do their own
thing when left unattended.
As your notoriety rises, increasing numbers of deadlier agents
will venture upon your evil base in an attempt to put an end to
your schemes. Objects in the game will generate ‘heat’
and attract snooping agents who might snatch it or report back
to their officials. Another unique gameplay mechanic has enemy
agents placed in body bags once eliminated requiring you to build
freezers to store them away from prying eyes. Each section of
the world map is divided into areas run by different organisations
with acronyms like SABRE, ANVIL and SMASH to name a few, which
adds a bit of depth to the mission storylines as you’ll
really believe there are other competing SPECTRE-like
forces at work, battling it out for control of the evil underworld.
Each organisation even has a special super agent to send out after
you, including a James Bond, Rambo and martial artist like character
who doesn’t give up without a fight.
The game incorporates controls that are
easy to use and only require a few clicks of the mouse thanks
to an excellently designed GUI. You’ll spend a lot
of time building your base and this couldn’t be easier
with the easy point and click system.
You’re given the responsibly of building rooms like
dorms, cafeterias, social and training areas to care for
minions while other rooms such as power generators, security
and control rooms are essential to the smooth running of
your base and operations - you even have your own congregation
room with round table to discuss your evil world domination
plans with henchmen!
Research also plays a major part in the game, so science labs
and machinery needs to be unlocked and built too. Your base is
not left totally defenseless against snooping agents as several
traps are unlocked throughout the game for you to build, some
of which are truly evil and extremely satisfying. As if that wasn’t
enough, you can even do some fancy but rather advanced linking
of traps and have different triggers triggering other triggers…
quite confusing but rewarding.
Evil Genius is funny. It’s quite a British humour thanks
to London based Elixir Studios, that’s not to say Americans
won’t like it, but Brits - Bond fans especially - will get
some great laughs from the range of mission storylines and torture
and trap animations. Character sounds and voiceover's aren’t
used excessively in this game but when Evil Genius character Max
comes off with a line in a concoction of German, Russian and English
accents or henchman Red Ivan blurts out abuse in a convincible
Schwarzenegger accent personality oozes from each character, something
you wouldn’t have necessarily expected in such a game. Music
is also superb in Evil Genius; there are several themes which
play at the menu screen - one that especially sounds like a rich,
Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang theme.
Above: Building your base.
The game’s bright colours and retro-like graphics are
well suited to the theme, almost like a ‘60s spy comic.
While the character and object models may not have very high polygon
counts or dosed in advanced pixel shader effects, the game does
keep up to recent standards with dynamic shadows and reflections.
Minions, henchmen and agents all have a distinctive look and you
can sense a heap of effort has gone into designing and making
each one original. If you have a beefy PC the game will run smoothly
on the highest settings but probably the best thing is the scalability
of the graphics so it’ll run on the most evil of PC specs
- all the more an incentive for those whose excuse for not buying
PC games is because they can’t run the latest Sims or Doom
Evil Genius lacks a multiplayer mode which will disappoint
some players but there’s hope for additional content
through mod support in the community.
While it does have it’s share of glitches and annoyances,
MI6 can’t hesitate in wholeheartedly recommending
Evil Genius to all James Bond fans.
If you own a PC there is no reason why you shouldn’t
add this game to your collection - you can even find it
in the stores for as little as £25 / $30.
Why not treat yourself this Christmas and have a happy,
evil New Year.
UK MI6 Price £25.99
USA MI6 Price $28.49
Left: "Evil Genius" box art.
|Single Player Campaign
Thanks to www.evilplanet.com and Vivendi Universal.