Let’s say you’re watching old spy movies and it’s enjoyable but watching is never as fun as doing. Let’s also say that as you’re watching you realise the supervillain seems like a lot more fun than the hero. Now, you’re not about to go out and start a crime ring but you might be interested in what Evil Genius 2: World Domination has to offer.
Evil Genius 2 is the long-awaited sequel to the 2004’s Evil Genius that plants you in the role of one of four evil geniuses intent on launching a hostile takeover of the entire world.
The story of Evil Genius 2 has a lot more to it than I was expecting. I went in expecting that I would be doing mindless villainy with no thought for motivation. Instead, I was exposed to the backstory of my Genius and was given a clear path from A to B, where B is conquering the world.
All the missions have a story behind them. There is a progression with research and intel gathering being an essential step before the final heist. You don’t have to get hung up on the story if you don’t want to. Getting caught up in the minutiae of Red Ivan’s past might not be your idea of fun, but the game easily accommodates you whether you’re interested or not. The story isn’t dominating and can be easily skipped over or skimmed but what is there is entertaining and surprisingly detailed.
The dialogue in Evil Genius 2 is limited but the small cutscenes that do pop up to aid the story are fun asides within the game and allow the comedy of Evil Genius 2 to shine. Evil Genius 2 doesn’t take itself too seriously and the experience is all the better for it.
The pacing of the game works really well. I found myself asking “how do I get more specialist minions for my base?” and the very next story objective had me recruiting two new types. The missions and objectives lead you along a clear path and following it will make sure you’re researching things at the right time and not falling behind without feeling at all linear or controlled. Evil Genius 2 gives a lot of narrative freedom without throwing you to the dogs to cope alone.
Graphically Evil Genius 2 is a good looking game. It’s not got revolutionary next-gen graphics but it’s a clean and classic style that works really well. The colours are bright, the game is smooth and it’s all-around enjoyable to look at. It captures the spirit of the first game whilst bringing it into 2021 and enhancing it.
There is a lot of simplicity amongst the characters in Evil Genius 2. The minions are all sorta clones of each other, but even within this, the game offers variety. Their skin tones are varied, their facial features and hair are different and the different styles of minions all have distinct animations. It takes something that could look monotonous and repetitive and adds some spice to it, keeping it simple but interesting.
The sound in Evil Genius 2 shines the most with the helper who oversees your base. She’s not afraid to get sarcastic with you while keeping you updated about how much money you have or the progress of your research. You can’t keep an eye on everything at once in Evil Genius 2 but your computer can and she provided essential commentary on the highlights. There’s some great vocal talent attached to the game that you’ll definitely enjoy if you’re a fan of older films.
There is a lot to keep track of when playing Evil Genius 2. You quickly end up with over 100 minions with different jobs and your base becomes a sprawl of corridors and rooms that eventually spreads across multiple floors. Despite all of this the game isn’t that complex. It walks you through what you need to do and doesn’t hold your hand the entire time but it doesn’t throw you to the sharks either. The helper mixed with on-screen visual reminders makes it easy to get settled into a routine to keep your base running as smoothly as possible.
The objectives within Evil Genius 2 are always clear and easy to follow so you’re not stuck and unable to progress. In addition, pretty much everything in the game has a short description explaining what it does or how to use it so, if you’re confused, the game usually has the answers within it.
I did, at times, get overwhelmed by the sheer number of things happening in the game and sometimes it felt like everything happened at once. Evil Genius 2 accounts for this possibility. The game features a pause button and accessibility features that make it simple and easy to stop and catch your breath when things are getting too much.
On occasion, I encountered things that didn’t work as intended that definitely hindered my gameplay experience. There is a tracker in the top right for the next wave of Forces of Justice (FOJ) investigators arriving, this countdown never hit zero anywhere near the arrival of new FOJ spies. The helper also announces a new wave of investigators have just arrived on the island and they never have. These feel like essential tools for keeping track of FOJ agents in your base and they were more of a hindrance than a help.
Once the agents arrive you can tag them with different ways for your minions to respond to them. The distraction tag had a frustratingly low success rate that made it almost pointless to use. Having said that, even with the shortcomings of the systems the beauty of Evil Genius 2 is there are still ways around this. I constantly missed the FOJ agents arriving or would spot them too late so I built a freeze trap right inside the door and used the notification about it being triggered to react to their presence.
The controls for the game are relatively simple and intuitive. There are a few quirks but it mostly works like any other game of this style and is easy enough to get the hang of. Construction is a fundamental part of Evil Genius 2 and it is done incredibly well. Building rooms is simple and it’s just as easy to make adjustments later on.
Evil Genius 2, fundamentally, is just fun. It’s not trying to be anything grandiose or life-changing and it doesn’t need to be. It’s the kind of game that you can easily sink hours into and that’s great to play when you’re looking to relax. You can easily come back to it after a break without feeling completely lost or overwhelmed. You won’t be so confused that you need to start over, instead you can easily just drop in and out as the mood strikes you. The game has a more-ish tendency when you’re in the height of a playthrough, there’s always just one more task you can do.
It’s also a game perfectly designed to be replayed and restarted to your heart’s content. The stories of the Geniuses will be the same but there are so many different paths to take to get to the end. The story also isn’t at the forefront of the gameplay experience and so it doesn’t feel like replaying it will get tiresome or repetitive. Instead, it feels like each replay will just add more possibilities. Add into that the sandbox mode and you really can go mad with power.
The accessibility features for Evil Genius 2 are undeniably simple but, in my opinion, effective. The accessibility menu offers the ability to immediately pause the game if certain requirements are met, such as the high alert alarm going off. This allows players to take the time to process and react to events without falling behind or missing something important. The game features multiple colourblind modes accommodating the most common forms of colour blindness. There is never anything said in the game that is not also written on-screen so while you might miss ambient noises there is no risk of missing anything important.
The accessibility feature I made the most use of was the custom difficulty option. This allows you to tailor the game to your own strengths and weaknesses and make it a truly unique experience. I played on a custom difficulty level where most settings were set to medium, or the default, with a few settings on easy. This included settings such as power consumption because that had been a constant issue for me in a preview playthrough and it took away from my enjoyment. By customising the difficulty I was able to adapt the game to the areas I was more interested and capable in without hindering myself in other areas.
Should you play Evil Genius 2?
Evil Genius 2 has no delusions about what it’s trying to do. It’s simply trying to be a good sequel to a classic, well-loved game and at that it more than succeeds. Its simplicity or lack of innovations aren’t shortcomings. Instead, it allows the game to do what it does best without trying to be something it isn’t. It’s just plain and simple good fun.
Game reviewed on PC with code provided by PR.
Featured image credit: Rebellion