Being a supervillain in charge of a criminal network is hard work. Or at least being a successful one.
Primed for its Steam PC launch on 30th March, Evil Genius 2 is all about building up your dastardly lair and then sending out your minions to conduct nefarious deeds throughout the world. For Austin Powers fans, it basically allows you to become Dr. Evil. And that’s what’s so alluring about it – the chance to be a villain for a change, along with all the goofy campiness that comes along with it. Evil Genius 2 is very much a game that doesn’t take itself seriously.
I’ve been hands-on with a preview build of Evil Genius 2, and sinking into it the hours just flew by. While there will be four villains (or evil geniuses, if you prefer) to choose from in the full game, only Maximillian was available to me. It’s probably a good thing, however, as he’s perfect for newcomers. Each of the four villains you can take control of have their own unique traits, you see, and Maximillian’s enable you to get off to a great start, granting you additional minions from the outset and more reliable gold accumulation. And as any supervillain will agree, minions and gold are very important indeed.
After choosing a base for your operations, it’s time to get to work building your lair – fronted by a legitimate business, of course. Out front is a casino, ready to take the money right out of the hands of unsuspecting visitors. Behind closed doors, however, is where the real evil, and moneymaking, happens. With easy to use menus, you’ll set about building a lair to be proud of. First you’ll want the necessities – somewhere for your minions to sleep and eat, a power room full of generators, a vault to store your gold, and a control room. Once those bases have been covered, it’s time to start working on a global scale.
Click a button on the HUD and you’re instantly taken to the Wold Stage, where you can set up bases to instigate profitable schemes. But there are other benefits in addition to propping up your bank balance. Play your cards right and you can capture specialists, such as guards and valets – bring them back to your lair for interrogation, and you can learn their secrets, allowing you to then train your minions in their roles. At that point, Evil Genius 2 becomes even deeper.
With guards, you can really start to think about security, perhaps setting up cameras or traps for when your base inevitably comes under scrutiny of justice. Valets, on the other hand, can try and head off those you’d rather not be poking their nose around by distracting them in the casino. And then there are scientists – get some of those, and you can make some progress across multiple research trees, bolstering your criminal efforts in a myriad of ways. When the time is right, you can even take a henchman under your wing.
Before you know it, your lair is a hive of activity – or should I say nest? Zoom out the camera and enable fast forward, and it sure does give the impression of a colony of ants working as one to ensure survival. To keep everything running smoothly though, you need to keep your wits about you. Making use of the unique skills of your chosen evil genius is important, but even more so is keeping an eye on those arriving to your secluded island to spy on or interrupt your operations. Mark them before they’ve even entered your front and there’s a good chance you can distract them before any harm is done. Otherwise, you’ll have to instruct your minions to either capture or terminate them, which will undoubtedly result in a scuffle and some causalities.
Playing Evil Genius 2 can feel like you’re trying to keep multiple plates spinning at times – there’s just so much happening that you need to be aware of and manage. It rarely feels overwhelming, however. Whether you’re expanding or building new rooms, undertaking research, training minions, or commencing scheme via the world stage, everything’s easy to do thanks to a snappy and intuitive menu system. And if you need a little time out to plan your actions, you can pause the game to take things at your own pace. It’s a lifesaver when the situation is dire.
When it launches this March, many players will want to dive into Evil Genius 2‘s career mode, in which they’ll be challenged to complete various objectives. There are multiple difficulty levels to choose from in that endeavour, too. For long-term fun though, the inclusion of a sandbox mode will be music to wannabe villains’ ears. Delve into sandbox mode and you’ll find that you’re free to create your lair however you want and enjoy it in its perpetuity. It’s just you versus the world, and no one’s going to tell you what to do.
From the time I’ve spent with Evil Genius 2, I feel pretty confident in saying that it’s going to make a lot of people happy. It’s a great looking game with oodles of strategy and humour. It’s deep, but not overcomplicated. Once you’ve started building your lair you get sucked in, and before you know it hours have passed while you’ve been setting up operation in one country after another, all the while fending off the agents of justice hoping to bring you down. It’s engrossing stuff.
For those who want to get the most out of Evil Genius 2, Deluxe and Collector’s editions will be available alongside the standard. The Deluxe Edition includes the base game, Season Pass One, and the Fountain of Youth, Trojan Horse, and Aurora Borealis in-game bonus items. The Collector’s Edition, on the other hand, available via the Rebellion Store, comes with physical goodies. Alongside everything included in the Digital Deluxe Edition, there’s also a Maximillian statue and a print version of the Evil Genius official magazine. Season Pass One for Evil Genius 2 includes a campaign pack, two henchmen packs, two minions packs, a lair item pack, and yet more to be revealed.
Evil Genius 2 pre-orders are live now, with a 10% discount offered for pre-purchasing the game. That rises to 15% if you own the original Evil Genius on Steam. Check out the game’s Steam page to pre-order or wishlist it, and check out the Evil Genius 2 website for more information.