My first introduction to Evil Genius was finding a sealed copy on a stall at a car boot sale while searching for interesting and cheap games to play and the box artwork instantly drew my attention to this title. Yeah, I guess I’m a ‘judge a book by its cover’ kinda guy but there was something different about this that I just had to give it a try. Five pounds lighter but full of excitement, I headed home and booted up my PC.
The game has you taking the mantle of a crazy megalomaniac set on world domination — one that has surely been the antagonist of many a secret agent movie — and as you’d expect from such a villain, you start on a secret island underground base. Well, you start on the island, the base you have to build yourself and the game helps direct your progression by issuing tasks that you complete at your own pace. Before you can really be a power on the world’s stage, you need an army of nameless and expendable minions that you recruit to do your bidding and as you grow in power and infamy, the nations of the world will take a very keen interest in your dastardly deeds.
As you move through the game, different rooms will become available to build and new items can be discovered to steal from the nations of the world. Minions can be trained in 3 different disciplines and can get to work on research, base security, or even staff a hotel to distract any tourists or agents of justice that happen upon your island.
Evil Genius was first released back in late 2004 developed by Elixir Studios and published by Vivendi Universal Games. It was received quite favourably by gamers and critics hitting between 70-80% on average. Evil Genius was a strange take on the Dungeon Keeper formula, mixing an art style that hearkened to early Bond imagery, a self-aware but not over-the-top line of humour running through and backed by a fantastic and atmospheric soundtrack composed by James Hannigan that saw him nominated for a BAFTA for his work.
Elixir studios had plans to create a sequel, but unfortunately due to the studio’s closure just a year later, the project was canceled and their catalog of IP’s was snapped up by Rebellion. But the story doesn’t end there, this game had an impact on enough gamers that they started growing a community on websites, forums (Evilplanet is sadly no longer available) and the Evil Genius 2 facebook page.
This was a site where people helped fix the bugs in the game, shared their tips and tricks, building plans and eventually where they started speculating about Evil Genius 2. For years we scoured the internet for information, lobbied the Rebellion website and contributed to what we thought would be improved or added in a second installment. For years excitement grew and waned, up and down, statements from Rebellion and a couple of Facebook game apps and now here we are, the very reason for this article. At this year’s E3, during the PC Gaming Show, Rebellion is announcing Evil Genius 2 and I could not be more excited.
So why did this game have such an impact on me, I have been a big fan of the Tropico and Dungeons series so I can’t deny that playing the bad guy is a lot of fun. But what has me coming back to this game is the great mix of music and supervillain management simulation that leaves me with a lust for power.
What will a new addition to this property add? Will it expand upon base options? Will there be revamped Minion skill and tech trees? How will we interact with the wider world to enact our nefarious plans? Are we going into space? Only time will tell!