Over the weekend I got to play a preview build of Evil Genius 2, a base-building strategy game about being an evil supervillain and taking over the world. Although really evil world domination seems to mostly be about cementing your economic position and making lots of money via international schemes, so you can think of it more as a Dr. Evil-meets-tech-billionaire sim.
The preview was the tutorial stage for Maximilian, one of the evil geniuses you get to play as, but the tutorial took about six hours, because there is a lot of strategy to this strategy game. Your underground lair has to include living facilities for your minions, a science lab, a communications room, a training room, a vault for all your gold (because megalomaniacs obviously adhere to the gold standard), and so on and so forth. Space is at a premium because you're in a mountain on a tropical island, and a bunch of it is taken up by your front operation: a casino.
This is manned by Valets, one of a few specially-trained minion units you'll need if you want your evil lair to run well. And the goal of all this is to make heaps of tax free cash by using a separate menu screen to infiltrate different global regions and carry out schemes in 'em. The money is then spent on expanding your lair, for plotting even more schemes. You get the idea.
If you played the first Evil Genius, you'll be broadly at home and recognise all the steps, but if you haven't, then the tutorial will be welcome. It's a complicated dance, but when you get the steps right, it's very satisfying. It's lampooning old spy thrillers, but the lampoonery never becomes overbearing, nor does it detract from the actual challenge of juggling a global evil empire. This new game comes with a lot of quality-life-improvements, too, and generally planning out your lair and managing everything is really easy. You can even lay down blueprints for several different room types, on opposite sides of the base, within the same command group.
It's great fun, but I am mostly enamoured by the look of the thing. Evil Genius 2 went to the same school as 90s Bullfrog, or perhaps Two Point Studios. The animations are slapstick funny, and the art and colour scheme apes 60s Bond but with modern sensibilities. It's neo-retro, the past as designed by the future, and honestly I'd really like the minions to do-up my living room. They completed the gleaming grey walls of the science lab, the practical green-and-white tiling in the canteen, and the neat grey of the dorms to absolute perfection. Their standard staffroom furniture is a round sofa pit in orange and red, with a white, rounded capsule TV unit with inbuilt shelving!
Do you know what I would do if that was a viable option for me? I would lose my mind. I guess this is how Silicon Valley bros get you: they build you an office that's nicer than the place you live, and you like your staffroom so much that you don't question why your actual bedroom isn't as nice as the bunk beds at work, or the fact that you are literally killing people and incinerating their bodies in the generator room.
I'll tell you where the money that should be spent on your salary is going. It's going on the stage for the fake casino out the front, that's where it's going:
Gold leaf and red plush for days! The money is also going on keeping the lights on, as power supply became my main problem, and I had to build rows and rows of chunky Duplo-esque turbines. It became one of my favourite rooms. It was felt useful and full, with no wasted space, but also very peaceful. And, as I mentioned, it's where you burn corpses. So. Fun! A lot of money probably goes on Technicians, too, who - and this is no joke - have to eat sushi from the staff canteen or they won't perform as well. Sushi!
I love the Techies because as soon as a regular minion transforms into one, they start walking in this downtrodden nerd way, shoulders slumped, arms pointing straight down in front of them and not moving. Their whole attitude is like, "I will take great pride in the cable management on your evil server farm, and you're not even going to appreciate it - but I will still do it."
If any of the minions did manage to spot the great unfairness inherent in their oganisation, they could just take a spell in a re-education pod. I love the design on these, particularly since the white egg-chair shape and red upholstery match perfectly with the staffroom sofa. Honestly, it's probably my perfect TV chair. I don't care if I become a living piece of boring art satire, I want to turn myself into a pretzel sitting in this thing.
It's still probably not great shakes being a minion, though, since despite the island location and cool fringe benefits (including free healthcare in little futuristic pods, another bit of great design) your boss might just shoot you in the head.
Your evil genius can stroll around the halls, deploying buffs - Max can instantly complete the training bar of any minion training near him, for example - but you can also just execute a minion at will. Just right click on that sucker. The tutorial gets you to do this to demonstrate that, if you do it in front of an audience, you'll inspire them to work really hard. I kept offing people just as their mate walked off or turned their back, though, and I shot at least four random minions in the face before I managed to complete the objective.
So what I'm saying is, the minions should take their zest for interior design, and bring it over to my flat. I will probably definitely not kill them, even if I'm disatisfied. I mean, I don't have an incinerator, for one thing.
Disclosure: Nate, wot works here, does some work with Rebellion Publishing, the book publishing arm of developer Rebellion Developments.