Evil Genius (video game)
|Publisher(s)||Sierra Entertainment (2004-2006)
Rebellion Developments (2006-present)
|Genre(s)||God game, Real-time strategy, Dungeon management game|
|Distribution||×2 CDs, cloud computing, digital distribution|
Evil Genius is a single player real-time strategy and simulation video game developed by Elixir Studios and published by Sierra Entertainment, released on 28 September 2004. The game is inspired by the spy thriller genre (notably the James Bond film series). Similarly to Dungeon Keeper, the game turns the traditional plotline on its head, with the player acting as the villain, evading the comically stereotyped forces of justice. Gameplay revolves around the player building an island fortress and achieving clichéd world domination, much like most films.
On 8 August 2013, Rebellion Developments announced via their official Twitter account that there is an online game in the works titled Evil Genius Online. It is currently in open beta  as a Facebook game.
Evil Genius focuses on building an island lair and the management of minions that are employed by the Evil Genius, allowing the player to progress through the main storyline with achieving world domination as the end goal of the game. Although not explicitly stated the use of historic regions (the Eastern Block) and events (such as the Cuban Missile Crisis) within the game suggest that it is set in the 1960s and 70s and that the game is progressing through an alternate timeline. Furthermore the styling of the game, which is reminiscent of 1960s Atomic Age designs also suggest a 1960s-1970s setting.
The player is represented in game as one of three selectable evil geniuses: Maximilian, Alexis or Shen Yu.
Similar to Dungeon Keeper, Evil Genius has the player construct a lair and employ minions to defend against protagonists (the forces of justice). The lair is built on a remote island of indeterminate location (although it is visited by a surprisingly large amount of tourists), and is composed of a number of different rooms and objects which perform various functions. As the player progresses through the game, new rooms and objects become available.
There are two islands that the player inhabits through the course of the game; The first being a rocky, desert island populated with shacks and camel bones. The second is a large, tropical island with an extinct volcano at its center covered with palm trees and Tiki heads.
There are a variety of rooms that can be built over the course of the game which maintain and/or improve your minion forces. Some facilities restore a stat while others determine recruitment. Training facilities allow for advancement and specialization. The laboratory provides the ability to research new items and is a central theme in progressing through the game.
Traps are one of several steps in deterring agents of justice and their attempts to enter your base and gather evidence, steal money, or sabotage equipment. Trap results vary from simple confusion and movement, to stat reduction and death. They include the classic piranha tank, surprise pop-ups, wind turbines and flame throwers, poison gases, even an electroshock trap that uses a Tesla coil. The player is rewarded with money and a rating for every agent that is caught in a trap. If the effects of different traps are chained together it will create a combo and add more money.
The goal of some players is to create a combo loop that piles on the cash and ties up enemies for long periods of time. The most elaborate of these are often referred to as "Über Traps", which employ elaborate planning and knowledge of trap effects. A popular strategy is the "Freak Trigger" which keeps traps running whether they are occupied or not.
Minions and Henchmen
Players have no direct control over minions but can interact with them using Henchmen and the Evil Genius. Hardhat workers are the basic minion type and can be trained to specialize in one of three fields: military, scientific, or social. Each field has three successive minion levels with the third level having two unique branches.
Henchmen are the only units (other than the Evil Genius) that the player has direct control over. Henchmen are stronger than conventional minions and can be upgraded with two special moves after gaining enough experience. If a Henchman's health is reduced to zero, he or she will simply collapse for a short time before becoming active again. However, if a super agent kills a henchman three times, the henchman dies permanently.
These individuals represent the very best in defense from each world power. High notoriety will trigger their investigation, which poses a serious threat to everything you've built. A super agent is not invincible though and it is your task to uncover their weaknesses.
World Domination and Acts of Infamy
The ultimate goal in Evil Genius is to construct a "super weapon", a device insidious enough to make the world capitulate to your will. To achieve this, blueprints and parts must be stolen from particular regions and brought to the island by committing "Acts of Infamy". These missions are chosen from an interactive map and require set amounts of minion types to complete. The player has no direct control over a mission, but can increase the chance of success by mixing minion classes and allocating more of them to the cause.
Aside from the main story line, other missions are available with the objective to steal loot, kidnap civilians, or simply to cause general havoc in the world at large. All of these Acts increase the notoriety of the player, by varying amounts. Some Acts of Infamy are references to historical events, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, while others are comical, such as a mission in which the player must destroy Nashville, Tennessee in a "humanitarian" effort to rid the world of country music. Additionally, minions can be left to plot new Acts or fund your enterprise with stolen money.
The world is divided into five regions controlled by different government counter-terrorist agencies. Any action within a region will accumulate a level of notice, or "Heat". The alliances controlling the region will respond by dispatching agents to the player's island, with more skilled and more dangerous invaders being sent from regions of high heat. These agents, singularly or in groups, include: Investigators, who will try to uncover evidence of illegal operations; Saboteurs, whose goal is to destroy parts of the base; Thieves, who will attempt to steal back stolen items; and Soldiers, who will assault criminal minions.
Each alliance has a Super Agent, parodies of the protagonists found in many action movies, spy films, and martial arts movies. Some notable examples are Jet Chan, a parody of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and John Steele, parody of James Bond and Remington Steele. These Agents are more dangerous than normal, as they cannot be killed by normal means and can kill Henchmen over time. The player must complete a special mission related to each Super Agent to be able to remove them from play, usually in an equally satiric fashion.
Evil Genius has an aggregate total of 77% and 75% out of a possible 100 on both GameRankings and Metacritic respectively, which indicates "generally favourable reviews." Most critics praised the game for its humour and unique take on the god-game genre, but also criticised it for its frustrating micromanagement and annoying bugs.
GameSpot gave the game a 7.3 out of 10, stating that "while Evil Genius' dry, campy humor is often amusing from the start, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to pull off acts of infamy and establish your notoriety among global powers" and states "Evil Genius is hampered by some frustratingly haphazard pacing as well as issues with the artificial intelligence of your minions."
IGN gave Evil Genius a 7.8 out of 10. The reviewer stating that "Evil Genius hearkens back to the glorious Bullfrog creation Dungeon Keeper. Not only did it have us building a base underground (far, far underground), but also put us in the shoes of a sadistic dungeon master with imps, demons, and horned reapers to "control." There are quite a few differences in the two titles, but the influence is certainly there" but stated that "Had there been more interactivity with during acts of infamy on the World Domination Map, less micromanagement for taking care of enemies, more information passing between the map and the base screens, and more useful information about why things happened the way they did, Evil Genius really could have been genius... but in a good way."
EuroGamer gave Evil Genius a 7 out of 10, commenting that "even as we sit here picking over the carcass, we're not actually all that angry about the things that are wrong with the game. They're bad on paper, but they didn't interfere hugely with our having fun - a sure sign that that Evil Genius overcomes its flaws and ultimately satisfies."
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