Nearly 20 years after the first Evil Genius, Rebellion is launching its next abominable scheme with Evil Genius 2: World Domination.
It might seem familiar to longtime fans, but a host of improvements, not least in the geniuses themselves, makes Evil Genius 2 a must-play for strategy and management-sim fans.
World domination might be the (literal) name of the game, but each genius has their own motivations and unique questlines that shape how you approach it.
Emma, for example, spreads cynicism and discord as she plans to destroy a world that rejected her. It’s not as dreadful as it sounds.
Evil Genius 2 excels at juxtaposing the terrible with the humorous, setting you loose to be very naughty indeed without actually having to feel bad about it.
The naughtiness is tailored to your chosen genius. Emma the spymaster excels in deceit, for example, and her campaign involves sending her deception minions on smear campaigns against beloved international figures.
Combined with the genius’ unique abilities, sub-stories, and the different henchfolk you can recruit, each campaign is markedly different and worth playing through at least once.
All this is the overarching story, but you’ll spend the bulk of Evil Genius 2 on the island base developing a lair capable of supporting your evil aspirations. It’s a complex series of tasks, but fortunately, Evil Genius 2 has one of the smartest tutorials I’ve encountered.
It’s lengthy, lasting at least an hour depending on your play speed, slowly leading you through the basics.
After the first layer of basic room types, though, you realize there’s no way your tutorial base is feasible. It’s like a nefarious parent, giving you just enough freedom and information to build yourself into a corner so you realize your mistakes and won’t, or shouldn’t, make them twice.
Evil Genius 2 is about making order out of chaos for the express purpose of making chaos everywhere else.
Almost every aspect of the base and operations is under your control, from the size of your vault to your comms reach, research goals, guard training, and the success of your cover operation. That’s not even going into minion management and dealing with enemy agents.
There’s so much involved in maintaining and expanding your empire, but Evil Genius 2 never feels overwhelming.
Every piece fits smoothly into the next, which has the added bonus of helping figure out what went wrong when things fall apart. And they probably will fall apart. Even on normal, Evil Genius 2 demands smart management.
Once your lair is operational, the next stop is the World Stage. This is where you’ll carry out crimes to expand your reach even further and try to avoid generating too much notice, or heat, from the Forces of Justice.
Every venture costs money or minions, but deciding which quests you should handle involves even more planning, lest you quickly exhaust your resources. That goes double once you attract notice from rival crime lords determined to ruin you.
Evil Genius 2 improves on the original in every way. There's the obvious, such as the improved tutorial, graphics, and interface. Beyond that, influencing minions is easier, it streamlines tasks, you have more control over minion capacity, there’s a fast-forward option to reduce empty time, and the crime lords themselves have much more personality, helped in no small part by the star-studded voice cast.
The only drawback is on the World Stage. Quests usually involve dispatching different minion combinations, and while it does affect how you balance your lair, the lack of variety means non-story quests feel stale fairly quickly.
It’s easy to overlook, though. With its fantastic ‘60s art style, swanky soundtrack, and compelling, in-depth management, Evil Genius 2 is one of the best strategy simulators around.
Reviewed on PC - Review code provided by the publisher