Evil Genius Review

Developer: Elixir Studios Publisher: Vivendi Universal
Release Date: September 28, 2004 Also On: None

Ever turn on the TV and watch an old 60s action movie and notice how cheesy it was? It is very ironic that a lot of today’s action movies will become today’s spoofs and comedies. Evil Genius tries to capitalize on this trend by letting you play as an evil genius. Your mission is to try to build your doomsday device and conquer the world.

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

I had mixed feelings about the gameplay. On one side, it is extremely creative and a lot of times fun to play. On the other hand, the game focuses a lot on micromanagement instead of macromanagement, which forces the player to do a lot of annoying tasks.

In the beginning, the game is extremely slow and tedious. The beginning was actually reaching to the point that I thought my computer was freezing. You start off by choosing one of the three possible evil geniuses. You can either choose: Maximillion, a Dr. Evil look-a-like with a German accent; Alexis, the rich heiress stereotype; and Shen Yu, the Chinese schemer who has correspondents around the world. Each evil genius has special abilities and different stats. Maximillion is considered the closest to being the all-around guy, using Alexis makes recruiting people much easier, while Shen Yu has the unique ability to get information from around the world faster than usual. You also start off with a henchman. Your henchman is the man who plots your global plan. The more popular your name gets the better henchmen you can get. After you finished creating your base, the game really starts to pick up.

Eventually you will be allowed to plan some “acts of infamy�. The world is split up into 5 regions. The different regions are P.A.T.R.I.O.T (Japan and US), S.A.B.R.E. (Europe, India, Australia, and South Africa), H.A.M.M.E.R (Cuba, the Eastern Bloc, and central Russia), A.N.V.I.L (the oriental parts of the world except for Japan), and S.M.A.S.H (the Middle East, North Africa, and South America). I would really question why South America would be joined with the Middle East and North Africa, and I never really saw Europe helping out India or South Africa that much, either. These 5 regions are alliances, so if you attack one part, that entire region gets angry with you.

There are mainly three things you could do: plotting, hiding, and looting. Plotting your acts of infamy allows your name to get more popular and allows you to get closer to your goal (if you follow the mission guidelines). Hiding really just allows your minions to stay in a region without getting caught, which is very helpful if you’re planning something big. Finally, looting is a very important part of the game. It is pretty hard to create your very own “evil empire� without some serious dough. Each region has a cash and justice rating. The higher the cash rating, the more money you get out from looting. However, with higher cash rating, a higher justice rating will follow. The higher the justice rating the higher the chance that your minions could get caught.

Another very interesting point about the game is your “heat� rating. The heat rating symbolizes the desire of other countries wanting to kill you, making stealing and conquering much harder. The more “acts of infamy� you preform, the higher your heat rating goes. When your heat rating goes up to a certain level, then one or more of the alliances will try to kill you or actually invade your island. “But how could they even find your island?� you ask. That is the trick, your island is publicly known. As a matter of fact, it is a tourist destination. A lot of tourists will come, so it will do you well if you build some hotels and conceal your base. Also, inspectors will regularly visit your island. If they find nothing, then your heat rating goes down. If they do find something, then unpleasant consequences will take place. If you feel bored, however, you could just kill them.

You will also meet your fair share of secret agents. The idea looks good on paper, but they do get annoying. Repeatedly, you’ll be forced to take them down. A little fewer secret agents would have been gladly appreciated. While I was playing, a friend of mine showed that my base was pretty low class. That was when I started to set up booby traps, torture chambers, and training stations. It is funny how in the beginning of the game, setting up your lair is one of the activities you loathe the most, but later on, it becomes one of the better joys.

The most annoying part of this game is how stupid your soldiers are in the game. Let’s say a burglar or soldier sneaks into your base, and you don’t order a minion to kill or capture him, then they will idly stare while your enemy wreaks havoc onto your base. Also, when your minions are working, it is common that they just desert their post or do nothing. To counteract this problem, I just took a random minion and tortured him publicly. After I did it, then they rapidly got to work, but only to stop working after a while. Come on developers, I don’t want to tell my soldiers to do the same thing over and over again. Heck, even in Starcraft you could give a unit an order and they’ll follow it until their death.

Evil Genius doesn’t seem to have good graphics, as with all games produced by Sierra. When you look into the game, it’s like looking at a bunch of squares and circles. The movement of the people is awkward, as sometimes your minions float over the ground or their feet sink into the ground. The fighting scenes in the game are similar to a cheap 60s movie (think the original Batman series), just like everything I wanted in a game like this. The world map view is also very bad. You just see a political map, and when you conquer places, it just lights up. It should’ve had more detailed screens or meters to help out the gameplay. The overview of your base is an eyesore also.

The audio for Evil Genius is actually pretty good. Gunshots, voices, and noises are all synchronized with the environment. The voices all match the people, and everyday noises in your lair are set up nicely.

Evil Genius is one of a kind in its class. Not many other games have a world domination simulator. It is a very ingenious concept, having to conquer other countries and continents from your own secret lair. There are a ton of factors involved, making it really seem like you are an evil genius. This game is pretty detailed, so extra points for that.

The replay value is high, as you can play as two other evil geniuses. Your base can be built differently, different henchmen can be trained. You can also try to keep your heat level low since you have gained experience from your last genius that you have played as. Also, there are different difficulties you can choose from (harder difficulties means higher costs for items, more tourists, etc.).

I was really anticipating this game. In some ways this game delivers more than I expected (the henchman feature was pretty nice), but the minions were very annoying. I highly suggest you play this game if you are a Bond fan (this could be the Game of the Year for Bond fans, if they ever decide to play it). To the normal gamers, I suggest getting this game once it goes into the bargain bins. For strategy fans, this game is worthy of being in your collection at a cheap enough price, but most likely, you have played better.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 7.9
Written by Simon Review Guide

Leave a Comment