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 shines.

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 and 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 to do.

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. Moonraker, anyone?

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 III games.


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
Overall MI6 Rating

Thanks to www.evilplanet.com and Vivendi Universal.