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Evil Genius (Windows)

74
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.6
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Indra is here (19781)
Written on  :  Aug 23, 2007
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

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Summary

What a great gam...where did that !@!%@% bug come from...!?

The Good

Evil Genius is a real-time strategy game where you plan an evil (criminal) mastermind set on creating an ultimate doomsday weapon to bring the world (ie. the forces of good) down to their knees. You may choose 1 out of the 3 available “anti-heroes” as your character. Each character possesses a minor difference in bonuses offered, but does not really effect the overall game play.

The game is a rare breed of strategy games that introduces a combination of minor “city-building” features (that is constructing your underground base) and also the element of what makes this game “Evil Genius” is the construction of trap systems. The closest game I know that resembles this is Dungeon Keeper. So if you like creating a combination of trap systems to kill or just create havoc for those nosy enemies wandering in your lair then is that type of game.

Graphics
The game introduces fabulous cartoon-like images describing the “James Bond” era of the 1970’s. Most of the animations of your minions, agents, and traps are pretty much smooth. The top-down perspective may be zoomed in and out for a closer look at your evil plans at work. The use of colors in this game is very much commendable, focusing on a lot of bright colors yet still in tune with the 70’s feel. This is especially notable in the menu system/save game, a very artistic approach to the 70’s.

Music
The music here is one of the best compositions I have personally ever heard in a game. Music in most games in my experience feel more like “noise” in the background. Seriously. Though the in-game (during game play) itself is pretty much average, the “off-game” music (during the menu/ save-game) really does touch the soul of the better days of Frank Sinatra in the 1970’s. The music really does give that glamorous ballroom Hollywood style kind of music. Two thumbs and toes up for the composition!

Gameplay
Gameplay of Evil Genius refers to your ability as an evil mastermind to create an efficient base to carry out your evil plans for world domination, by recruiting and training different types of minions (and henchmen: a minor hero-type NPC), advancing in technology, sending away teams around the world in missions to steal cash or conduct “acts of infamy” missions, all this while eluding the numerous enemy agents that arrive on your island for a look-see. Successful missions carried out by your team, or successful missions carried out by the enemy agents will create heat which warrants tougher types of agents landing on your island, starting from simple investigator agents, to thieves, saboteurs, soldiers and ultimately the feared enemy Super Spy. The world as we know it from an intelligence point of view is divided into 5 major factions. Thus, creating trouble with all the factions at once will warrant 5 times more agents landing on your island…which isn’t a pretty sight considering your outnumbered and outgunned.

Gameplay in this game consists of 2 major areas:
  • Base Construction & Micro Management
  • Political Map/Acts of Infamy.

    Ad.1. Base Construction & Micro Management
    Most of the gameplay (90%) in this game occurs in this top-down perspective section of the game. Here you can see your entire base, your hero, minions, enemy agents, traps, everything. Base construction itself is divided into 3 major elements:
    [1] Room Planning
    [2] Minion Management
    [3] Trap System Planning

    Room Planning consists of planning ahead in creating the various different types of rooms and connecting corridors. As there a not so limited space for your underground base, planning rooms and placing such rooms in relation to distance and use is essential in creating an efficient and effective working area. Placement is essential in regard to the security of your base. Creating and placing certain rooms or certain items that generate heat for example should be far from the reach of enemy agents. Creating a power plant generator room near the base entrance is looking for a fireworks show with everyone enjoying it except you.

    Creating room’s costs money and certain items require electricity. Managing cash and electricity requires constant attention as overspending or a certain power failure at the wrong time will warrant a very difficult existence if not certain death in several minutes (especially if your being attacked by enemy soldiers).

    Minion Management is your strategy in efficiently using your loyal (and dispensable) work force whom carries out your evil schemes for you. Your minions cannot be directly controlled. The minions work based on the games AI (Artificial Intelligence) which you indirectly control through listing commands. There are several types of minions (each with different uses) in the game which will be unlocked as you progress in overall plot. Recruiting and training minion’s costs time and sometimes money. Making them happy is another feat that requires constant attention. Minions (and every character in the game) have statistics that represent their feelings and efficiency: Health, Endurance, Smarts, Attention and Loyalty. Low Health means certain death, passing out is due to Low Endurance, Smarts and Attention effect the ability to notice traps and enter a vegetative state if too low. Low Loyalty will warrant your minions to leave your service. Certain items that may be bought or delivered from missions will help your stabilize all these nasty stats, ensuring an efficient workforce if place strategically to suit your minions needs.

    Minions themselves are divided into 4 different types: Construction Workers, Military Minions, Social Minions, and Technology Minions. Plus, a non-minion type: Henchmen.
    • Construction Workers are the only minion type that can create rooms for your base, which consists of blowing up a portion of an area you blue-printed and finally creating the room. Construction Workers are the only minions that can be recruited automatically. They can be later trained into the other 3 different minion types.
    • Military Minions (Guards, Mercenaries, Martial Artist, Snipers) are the only minions (in addition to the construction workers) that can attack other agents. Though their use is quite limited as a military force in the game (since usually the tough work is conducted directly by your Henchmen).
    • Social Minions (Valet, Spindoctor, Playboy, Diplomat) are the caretakers of your other minions. They help exhausted or minions in vegetative state to rooms where they can replenish their stats. Valets for example are the only minions that can use fire-extinguishers if fire breaks loose in your base (usually due to trigger happy enemy agents blowing up your furniture). They are also the only minions that can “weaken” non-health states of enemy agents.
    • Technology Minions (Technicians, Scientist, Biochemist, Quantum Physicist) are exclusively used to conduct research advancement only in the main gameplay map. They will wander around the base gathering information of items in your base that maybe further researched to discover new better items for your base. Technicians however are the only minion type that can fix damaged items in your base.
    • Henchmen are unique hero-type units which you can directly control. They cannot be killed by enemy agents (except the Super-Spy) where if defeated only fall unconscious. They have different unique abilities which may be unlocked when they gain sufficient experience either by killing enemy agents or participating in successful missions. You start with only one henchmen .As you gain evil reputation, you will be able to carry out missions to recruit new henchmen.
    Trap System Planning is basically your primary and almost only defense against enemy agents from wandering in and out of your base with information you’d rather not let them have leaving the island alive. Trap System planning is a tricky business as you have to place it correctly and also link the systems for it to actually work. Trap systems also affect your minions (though usually can detect the traps, will suffer more than often if in the same room with an enemy agent triggering a trap). Balancing between tactical use of different types of traps, linking them into trap-combo’s while experimenting with new discovered traps from technology advancement is a continuing trial and error process, greatly effecting your cash, power usage and more than often your minions lives.

    Ad.2. Political Map/Acts of Infamy.
    Though a minor part of the game, it is however the fundamentally most important, as without accessing it, you cannot progress in the game. The political map may only be accessed after you create a control room. Here, you can send your minions all over the world to infiltrate an enemy region for the 4 purposes types of purposes:
    • Stealing Money opts your minions to steal cash from the selected region where they will automatically send the money to your base depot.
    • Plotting opts your minions to search the area for new Act of Infamy missions, which usually increase your reputation if successful or certain key missions that progress the game.
    • Hiding opts your minions to go into hiding, particularly useful when an enemy agent or Super Spy is present in the region. The minions don’t do anything, but it prevents them from getting killed in the political map. Henchmen however cannot be killed in this map.
    • Acts of Infamy Acts of Infamy consists of sending certain types of minions to a region that offers available missions. Each mission has different requirements consisting of a certain number and type of minions to carry out the mission.

      Each minion (and henchmen) though in the political map have an active skill only usable in the political map. Military Minions are best in stealing money and protecting other minions from attrition when in a mission or discovered by an enemy agent. Social Minions lower “heat ratings” as sending minions tend to warrant attention and heat in the infiltrated region. Technology Minions boosts information in the area, useful for the Plotting feature. Henchmen have multiple skills, thus invaluable in the political map.

    The Bad

    The game is very challenging often to the point of frustration. Since you cannot directly control your minions, it is very much irritating to see certain minions act in the way you don’t want to. All hell practically breaks loose when your well planned furniture starts blowing up due to irritated trigger happy agents (traps tend to do that….hehe).

    Major Frustration #1
    When agents get nasty, they shoot things. Actually, they shoot (or bash) everything. Your minions, your items…everything. Minions die, furniture however blows up. When they blow up, fire spreads. When fire spreads, more things blow up. Next thing you know, your perfectly planned base is fire hazard waiting to happen:

    Oh, wait. Phew, my valets are doing their job carrying fire extinguishers. Ah, one fire out. Oops, my door just blew up. There goes one valet, going to parking heaven. OK, hey extinguished on fire….hey….wait you stupid valet, where you going? There are more fires still there….come back here! (Apparently, he has something better to do). Whew, here come his friends with more fire extinguishers….BOOM! Arrgh, another trap blew up…see you stupid valet, you should’ve extinguished that #@#!$% fire the first time around!

    Major Frustration #2
    Oh, no….here comes a Super Agent! Oh, hell…he (or she) is killing every one in sight. Aaah, all of my 15 Valets are there getting killed and blowing up….don’t you stupid valets see a death trap in front of you? Apparently not. And suddenly I have no valets and wild fire spreading through my base.

    Super Agents are the source of my anger management in this game. If it weren’t for a certain “bug” you can exploit in this game, Super Agents are practically impossible to defeat or control. You can’t kill them, hell you can barely slow them down. You know that your fist is going to places it isn’t supposed to go when you see 3 soldier platoons and at least 2 Super Spies turning your base into a terrifying trail of dead bodies and explosions. Hmm….and you thought YOU were the bad guy here. And if you’re wondering, it only takes 1 Super Spy to destroy your entire base. Sniff.

    Major Frustration #3
    The military minions in this game are practically almost useless. Most of them (except the snipers) only arm themselves when you turn the yellow or red alert alarm. Which you really don’t want to do every single time just to kill one agent. When they do have guns, depending on distance, if too close, they go into melee mode (hello, notice that gun your carrying, idiot?).

    Major Frustration #4
    Now what is lacking in this game is a “PLEASE KILL ANY AGENT THAT COMES IN THIS ROOM” feature, item, or anything. Now seriously, it’s a big base. I’m a little pre-occupied right now…oooh, see that agent carrying a bag of loot from our treasury…now do I REALLY have to tell you minions that he/she shouldn’t be leaving the next room with body parts intact? You have to manually tag agents individually to kill, capture or weaken them. More than often it’s irritating especially in populated rooms filled with items. You more than often select an item instead of the enemy agent. They got to get these “layers” in proper priority order.

    Major Frustration #5
    OK. So half my base blew up. I got over it. What I didn’t get over is that you have to manually blue-print the same traps again. Someone give me a “save blue-print” feature already. After blowing up more than 20 times, it does tend to get a little irritating, to manually blue-print the items all over again.

    Major Frustration #6
    When you create a room that is inaccessible, all of a sudden, enemy agents start showing up everywhere in your base…without using the front door. What the…? Well, you understood that…kinda makes sense…prevents “cheating” to a certain point to create such rooms. What IS irritating is if you misplace certain items, which create an inaccessible empty space. This creates the same effect? One time this happened and I was trying to find where in the hell is that room which was inaccessible. Didn’t find one. I did eventually find items blocking a certain path…warranting agents to come in using traps doors anywhere in the base. And you know what happens after that… boom… Boom… KABOOM!!!. I’m really beginning to hate that sound. Sniff.

    Minor Frustration #1
    Traps also lack an “area of effect” information feature. Other items have this feature, such as loot, cameras, sirens, sensors, but certain traps don’t give that area effect information…but its just a minor thing actually.

    Minor Frustration #2
    Someone please notify me when enemy agents are on the political map? Why, so I can send my minions into hiding. Training them really takes time…especially when my base is exploding half of the time. Stupid Super Spies.

    Minor Frustration #3
    Creating blueprints for your island hotels is very irritating. You can’t seem to create a “wing” without first placing the main hotel structure first, which is really important due to the lack of space on the surface level. Isn’t this supposed to be called a freakin’ blue print you idiot?

    Minor Frustration #4
    Someone tell me why I can’t delete buildings on the surface level…hmm?

    ULTIMATE $!@#!$%%! FRUSTRATION
    Ah…there goes my base…stupid Super Spies. Thank God for save games.

    Loading saved game…
    What the…? (suddenly after loading the game, my Evil Genius dies with no particular reason).

    Odd. Loading quick save…
    WHAT THE….? (Repeat previous description).

    (Blood pressure rising slowly).. Loading autosave 1…
    WHAT THE F…? (Repeat previous description)

    (Blood pressure rising steadily). Loading autosave 2…
    [Grumbling something nasty your mamma should not hear…]

    (Blood pressure rising drastically). Loading autosave 3…
    !$^%!%!^!#$^!#%@#$!%^# Followed by an explosion referring to your monitor after being abruptly violated by a super-speed instinctual move by your (preferably) right foot.

    The Bottom Line

    Refer to the "Ultimate Frustration" explanation.

    At this point, you start wondering whether the Amish were right about technology poisoning humanity...