It’s always fun to play the bad guy, and Evil Genius 2: World Domination allows you to do exactly that. It’s a sequel that has been a long time in the making, bringing the series bang up to date after its debut on the PC way back in 2004.
Your primary role (acting as one of the titular evil geniuses) is to get your lair up and running, complete with an army of faithful minions. You can choose between several supervillains, each with their own unique abilities, or jump in via Quick Play. This sets you up on the standard difficulty setting and has you playing as Maximilian, who is somewhat inspired by the classic Bond baddie, Blofeld. Otherwise, if you just want to freestyle it and focus solely on building a bad-ass lair then the Sandbox mode is for you.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is a strategy game which begins with the usual base building formula, before you progress to the world stage. Here, as the title suggests, you can set your sights on global control through a variety of different missions. But to begin with, you’ll need to learn the ropes.
You will be thrown straight into the tutorial, and progress by meeting objectives which will guide you though. Interestingly, there aren’t levels as such in Evil Genius 2: World Domination, each playthrough sees you navigate the whole campaign. Of course, each time you play the experience will be different, especially if you choose another genius and location for your lair.
This is somewhat refreshing for a strategy game however because you don’t have to repeat the initial base building stage at the start of each level as in the more traditional format. However, if your evil genius dies, you’ll have to revert to your last save point. Thankfully, there’s an autosave feature here so you won’t lose a substantial amount of progress if that happens.
The risk with this is that you can see the vast majority of what the game has to offer after just one playthrough, so your enjoyment of that will determine your desire to replay it, albeit with some small differences.
That said, there’s lots to do with a raft of main, side and optional objectives to rattle through. As in any good strategy game, your options for expansion will widen as you play, ultimately offering a complex facility to get to grips with. There’s some repetition in terms of objectives, but you’ll definitely get satisfaction from expanding your criminal operations and supporting team.
First things first, you’ll need to get your lair up and running. This means sorting out a power supply, a vault to store your gold, quarters for your minions to sleep in and all the facilities an evil overlord could ever want. You will eventually be able to build across numerous levels, and chip through the hardest minerals to maximise space.
Hiring minions is fairly straightforward, however they are pretty limited as basic workers. To get the most from your team, you’ll need to send them to the training centre to upskill. This allows your minions to graduate to guards, scientists, socialites and many more professions. Each has their own skill set, and a diverse team is key to your criminal empire thriving.
Side objectives offer the opportunity for you to unlock all the minion classes, as well as henchmen which are your strongest and most dedicated followers. In Evil Genius 2: World Domination you can directly control your genius and their henchmen, sending them into battle as well as meeting for briefings and such in the inner sanctum. Some tasks, such as firing the M.I.D.A.S. superweapon, can only be completed by your evil genius.
In order to unlock new facilities, and improve all sorts of elements of your lair, you’ll need to take part in research. Once you’ve constructed your lab and trained some scientists, you’ll be good to go. Research falls into five categories, from improving your lair’s facilities to specific objective based advancements. However, it takes a long time to complete research and the resources needed to complete it get interrupted frequently. At times, you’ll be hitting the fast forward button just to get the job done.
Before too long you’ll be ready to hit the world stage and get involved in all sorts of different schemes. You can generate gold, recruit extra minions and complete the vast majority of objectives from here. However, as your criminal activity in each region intensifies, you’ll attract the attention of numerous law bringers, who will then pay your lair a visit.
These can cause real issues, from decimating your workforce to sabotaging your equipment, causing fires. These are frequent and frustrating and no matter how many security features and fire extinguishers you post around your lair, impossible to prevent. You can bring the heat down via the world stage, but this won’t stop those unwanted visitors altogether, just reduce how many visits you get instead.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is optimised for Series X|S and is a good looking game. In line with the overall tone, the light hearted animated visuals have a vibe similar to Pixar’s The Incredibles. Your minions make for entertaining viewing as they go about their business, whether it’s interrogating an enemy, learning a new skill or attempting to put out fires. So much so that the in-built photo mode gives you the opportunity to share some snaps of your snazzy lair if you should wish to.
However, what completes the satirical spy style theme is the cheeky soundtrack that could easily belong to the many sources Evil Genius 2: World Domination is tipping its hat to. It all fits together perfectly resulting in an absorbing world that is an absolute joy to dive into.
The challenge with any strategy game which makes the jump to console is effectively mapping the controls so the player can easily navigate the numerous on screen menus. Gladly, Evil Genius 2: World Domination mostly gets it right. There are shortcuts to some of the most frequently accessed screens, as well as a stats summary which can be easily toggled on and off to quickly assess how healthy your lair is.
However, building rooms and walls can be somewhat fiddly as you cycle through the options from the outline of the room itself, to the numerous items which you can place within. A note of caution too, if you make a mistake it’s too easy to wipe all your progress which means you will need to start building from scratch, so read each menu option carefully before you go hammering the “A” button.
Putting doors on your rooms is optional, but secures them from enemy agents. This is an unnecessarily laborious process however, as you have to take down the correct width of wall before you can slot the door in. It would have been easier if the wall was overwritten when you choose the place for your door, but this is just a small personal niggle. Otherwise the overhead camera can be tilted and zoomed to give you a good perspective of your whole lair, which helps when you are in the building mode.
The other frustration is navigating the world stage. There’s no easy way to manage the activity happening in each region, meaning you’ll need to constantly review the map to avoid wasted downtime. It’s pretty labour intensive, especially when you are potentially fighting off blazing infernos and undercover enemies in your lair.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is available for £34.99, but for an extra £20 it will net you the season pass which includes lots of cosmetic content as well as a new campaign. If you’re a fan of strategy games there’s plenty of gameplay hours here to keep you entertained, even in the base game.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is a brilliantly presented and deeply layered strategy game. Minor issues aside, it’s rarely been so good to be bad.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination is available to download from the Xbox Store