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'Evil Genius 2' Wants You To Embrace Your Inner Dr. Evil

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'Evil Genius 2' Wants You To Embrace Your Inner Dr. Evil

It's not easy being a supervillain. Sure, you have to deal with do-gooding spies sneaking into your lair hidden in a volcano on a tropical island, but you'd expect that. No, on top of that, you need to take care of base maintenance and security, manage a convincing casino cover operation, and vet your goons, weeding out any of the troops who may not be well-suited to villainy - like the mercenary who presses flowers. You just want to hold the world to ransom and instead you're up to your knuckle tattoos in paper work.

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But there are the perks of the job. Once you've had your hired goons carve out a network of hallways and rooms, turning them into firing ranges, laboratories, and vaults, you can task your troops with heading out into the world and stealing famous treasures, such as an Easter Island head, the torch from the Statue of Liberty, or even the doors to Fort Knox. What sends a stronger message that no bank vault is safe than stealing part of the most famous vault in the world?

So, while I sit at my living room table typing out this article looking at my single pot plant, I'm definitely seeing the attraction of becoming an Evil Genius. The top of the Eiffel Tower would really brighten up my home office.

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In a recent hands-off demo of Evil Genius 2, the sequel to Rebellion's 2004 management game, I was shown the basics of base construction and management. On the surface the game and systems you've access to look very familiar to the original game. You drag out blueprints for rooms, placing schematics for work stations, and those orders bring any available minions running. While it looks gorgeous and thoroughly modern, the team has retained the essence of the original style. The base is populated with minions all wearing colour-coded uniforms denoting their role, which is both a handy way of reading the action but also a vigorous nod to the more kitsch James Bond films - in particular, You Only Live Twice.

Similarly, your chosen supervillain prowls around the base, every bit a cartoon evil boss. In the demo I saw Red Ivan, a communist general, was the villain of choice. Built like a tank with shoulders as wide as the man is tall, Ivan would stride around the base bellowing at minions to get back to work building his doomsday device, a giant rocket.

Evil Genius 2 / Credit: Rebellion Developments
Evil Genius 2 / Credit: Rebellion Developments
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This is one of the big changes from the original Evil Genius. The goal of the series has always been to build a giant Doomsday weapon with which to hold the world to ransom. But, whereas in the original it was the final thing to build, in Evil Genius 2 you build it in stages. And, you don't only use it once it's complete, in each stage it has a function that can be activated and used to influence the world map.

How exactly the device will influence the world map is currently being kept secret. I suspect you can use it to reduce the power of the Forces of Justice, or maybe to threaten a country's government into paying you a large ransom. Growing the base and keeping its secrets safe is how you'll spend most of your time, but you can't just ignore the world around you - you'll need to send your minions on missions, stealing famous trophies, for instance, and complete other tasks.

Evil Genius 2 / Credit: Rebellion Developments
Evil Genius 2 / Credit: Rebellion Developments
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As your base grows and your plans for world domination come closer to fruition you will gain the attention of the Forces of Justice. This band of do-gooders will hear whispers or your work and send spies to your island to try and discover your base. At first they'll just try to get in and take pictures or your operation but, depending on the threat you pose to the world, their interventions will become more aggressive, culminating in a full on assault with helicopters and boats loaded to the gills with heavily-armed soldiers.

Unlike in the original game, you won't be able to spot spies as soon as they appear on your island. Instead, they'll come dressed up like the guests visiting your casino - the business that acts as a cover for your underground operation. Depending on the skill of the agent and the attentiveness of your staff, you might be able to reveal the spy before they reach your base. This means you can either distract them with minions trained in hospitality or lay a trap for the agent, dropping them into a pool filled with sharks or knocking them out and sending them to a torture chamber to extract their secrets.

Evil Genius 2 / Credit: Rebellion Developments
Evil Genius 2 / Credit: Rebellion Developments
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The traps you can use to defend your base are a huge part of Evil Genius 2. You can link different triggers and devices together to create a Rube Goldberg machine of execution. So, for instance, if an agent steps on a pressure pad you've placed on the floor that can trigger a decoy guard to pop up, distracting an agent as a gas chamber drops from the ceiling knocking them out.

Rebellion didn't show a great deal of the traps in action, but they were a key part of the original game and the developers presenting the game said they would return as a large part of the sequel. The original Evil Genius is well-loved, yes, because of its style and humour, but also because its trap systems were so robust, offering you loads of ways to create ingenious networks of interlinked traps and triggers. Few games outside of the Orcs Must Die series offer the same depth for constructing combinations of heinous devices and unwitting AI characters willing to walk straight into them.

Evil Genius 2 / Credit: Rebellion Developments
Evil Genius 2 / Credit: Rebellion Developments

There's still a lot to see of Evil Genius 2 - the world map, the traps, the arc of a campaign of world domination, the different villains, henchmen, and special agents - but the bones that Rebellion has shown off so far are extremely promising. It's been 16 years since the original Evil Genius and while the sequel doesn't look to move too far away from the lair that game established, it looks to be polishing, fine-tuning, and evolving just enough to keep the fans happy and appeal to people looking for a more villainous management game.

Featured Image Credit: Rebellion Developments

Julian Benson
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