Evil Genius 2: World Domination is the 2021 sequel to the 2004 game Evil Genius. It is a simulation game and real-time strategy. In it, you pick one of four evil geniuses to play as and then set up a lair with minions to help take over the world. It is currently on Game Pass, so I decided to give it a go, and the results were mixed. With that –
So you start with a limited amount of money and can pick your lair location or do a preset game that will pick things like that for you. You have to use strategy to decide what to build and are rather limited at first and then slowly grow. You will have need for each room type and really need to consider the order you do it. You also need to make sure your lair is powered and that you have vaults to store money. Beyond that, you have things like rooms for your minions to sleep, and you need more to allow more minions to come in, research rooms, rooms to restore the health of minions, etc.
Your lair will also randomly be attacked by agents of justice, so you will need to make sure to have a level of defense.
Minions can be trained in one of three classes. There is muscle, which are your guards and the like. Science, which allows you to research upgrades. And deception, which allows you to have a cover for your base of operations to make money from. You will also have a few untrained minions that serve as worker bees.
The actual story and missions take place both in the lair and on the world map. The world map allows you to access smaller crimes to do things like earn money or other things you need for a functional lair. It also allows you to complete side and main story missions. No matter the genius you pick, you are ultimately working towards the same goals. You have super agents to defeat, important things to steal, all of this making up the side missions. The main mission is building up to use your doomsday device to destroy the world. In my first playthrough, I chose Zalika, who is a science-based genius, and her doomsday device is a mind-control device that allows her to enslave humanity.
It’s a pretty interesting concept, and I like simulation and building games like this. There is a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, some of it more successful than other. The art is cool, and the whole thing is a solid idea with some interesting gameplay. However…
The lairs are far too big to fit way too many of the same thing. You end up with dozens (and in some cases more) of the same thing. This is not strategy, this is forcing you to keep adding and adding instead of requiring you to be smart or work on building a nice base. Why do I need 30+ broadcasting things? Wouldn’t it make more sense to limit me on how strong they are at the start and require me to upgrade them? Instead, towards the end, I felt like I was just constantly rebuilding the same things over and over and in large amounts instead of being smart about it.
There are also asinine missions like, randomly turning off the power to your lair for x number of seconds and then turning it back on… because sure. Or the fact that so many agent missions will randomly see half your lair going up in flames (and no, you can’t avoid it) simply to force you to rebuild. This isn’t challenging. It’s tedious.
There are way too many super agents, especially as you will keep having to fight the same ones in each playthrough, and not enough variety from one playthrough to the next. If you want to play all four geniuses, you will be doing a lot of the same things, and it becomes a grind. I know games of this nature are a grind, but there is a way to make that fun. This game doesn’t exactly do that. Instead, it felt like a game that was padding its length. Instead of being long because it was challenging and it fit with the natural progression of things, it was long because you just have to keep doing the same stuff ad nauseam.
Everything could be cut down. The number of agents, the size of the base, the number of items you need in the base, etc. It might seem more limited, but it would make more sense. It would require strategy vs. just obsessively needing to keep rebuilding the same things over and over and ending up with a mess of a base to do so.
– I want to note while I am making these complaints, I was playing on easy. People on normal or hard were talking about putting 72+ hours in to get less than a third of the way through one playthrough. When I say, this game is frustrating and pads its length, I mean it and am not alone –
My biggest problem, though, is there is the making of a good game, but it’s drowning in its own poor choices to pad the length. I found myself continuing to play even as I kept saying, “nope, I’m done, I’ve played enough to give my thoughts,” because there were good things happening. But it makes it all the more disappointing that there is just too much.
In fairness, though, this is a problem not just with this game but with the genre itself. Civilization is also known for a bit of unneeded tedium. A good, for instance, is the closer you get to winning, the more you will have to sit through the computer randomly moving troops only for them to just be destroyed. However, at this point, developers need to recognize this as hurting their games, not helping. You aren’t adding strategy and difficulty, you are adding boredom, and some developers have.
There are also smaller complaints, such as you can’t change side quests which is not great. And there is little to no explanation for how to do a lot of things. I found myself having to google far too often to make up for the total lack of guidance the game gives the player.
The sad thing is, the developers are now out of business, so while there is so much here that could make for a great Evil Genius 3, with just a few smart choices, we are unlikely to see that.
So bottom line? I did a lot of complaining, but I still softly recommend this game. I know… surprising. I am not kidding when I say what is good is actually really good. The idea is smart, and the game is actually a lot of fun at times. Even with the frustration, every time I said I was done, I kept going back. I even said after finishing Zalika’s story that I wasn’t going to go for another one and have already started another playthrough. If you know what you are getting to and you like this type of game, it can be a good, just not great, experience. If, however, all of the above seems like too much, I completely get it. It’s on Game Pass, as I said, so if you have that, it might be worth seeing if you are willing to deal with all I highlighted. I am glad I played it; I just feel like there was a lot of potential that wasn’t fully realized.