Evil Genius

Evil Genius

Ryan Scott

Being a criminal mastermind takes more work than the average Bond villain might have you believe. Evil Genius, Vivendi’s upcoming world-domination strategy/simulator, casts you as a would-be dictator. We recently had a chance to delve into the criminal life with a late build of the game.

At first, your cavernous mountain lair consists of a simple entryway and a nearby construction room. You can order your few minions to expand your base by carving out corridors and other rooms, such as barracks, control rooms, and research areas. Your minions have statistics such as health, loyalty, and attention—which they seem prone to losing. The game is a little slow early on, since your workers tend to mill about and forget assignments. Fortunately, you can recruit a steady stream of followers, building an ever-growing league of workers, scientists, and social minions.

This Is My No. 2 Henchman, Number Two

You’ve also got a henchman at your command. Unlike minions, whose actions are governed by the orders they’re collectively issued, you can directly control your henchman—you can choose the likes of a swordsman named Jubei or a big-haired Pulp Fiction–esque gangster named Eli. Your henchman, along with myriad traps with which to furnish your lair, are your prime defenses against the secret agents who constantly try to sabotage your operations.

Money and notoriety are gained by dispatching operatives via a world-map screen on which you can direct thievery and “acts of infamy” to raise your standing in the criminal underworld and open up new objectives. This portion of the game feels somewhat disconnected from the rest of Evil Genius’ strategy-centric elements, but it definitely breaks the monotony of waiting around for minions to finish their jobs.

The life of a criminal mastermind is risky business. Is world domination truly worth all the hard work? Find out in next month’s full review!

Publisher: Vivendi Universal

Developer: Elixir Studios

Genre: Strategy

Release Date: September 2004

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Computer Gaming World.