Sometimes very good things hide behind very inconspicuous doors. At this year's EGN in London, while on my way from one appointment to another, I more or less accidentally noticed a plain booth labelled “Elixir Studios” and in it a single guy sitting at his computer. What did catch my eye though was the huge Evil Genius poster hanging on one of the walls. I had seen several screenshots of the game and had a basic idea of what to expect. Elixir Studios was no total stranger either. Their latest game was profound and complex though perhaps a little too complex for the average gamer: Republic - The Revolution anyone?
So I thought what the heck let’s pay them a quick visit and maybe drop a business card or two. Well to make a long story short, somehow I ended up having a short private presentation of Evil Genius and tell you what – why didn’t anybody before them think of a game like this?
How evil are you?
Of course the basic idea of playing the bad guy is not new at all. Dungeon Keeper showed us the way and its success proved that gamers don’t mind being the evil person once in a while. The general concept might be the same but this time you don’t play one of hell’s minions but your avatar is a more modern villain. The recipe for Evil Genius is simple: combine Dungeon Keeper with some of the cliché characters featured in the movies with that 007 person, add 2 buckets of humour, 1 shovel of sarcasm and a team that obviously really enjoyed developing a wacky Evil Empire Simulation. There, you are done!
My lair is my castle:
The main task in Evil Genius is of course building a decent base. Endless corridors connect your office (which is equipped with many BIG red buttons), laboratories, training rooms, cells, store rooms and maybe most important: interrogation rooms (yeah, that your face is glooming with anticipation right now is perfectly normal).
Let’s face it, there are governments that have problems with people whose only goal in life is world domination. Unlike in real life though they won’t simply make up some evidence and nuke your place but instead they will send their best-of-the-best: spies! Spies will investigate, sabotage or try to capture your evil Genius. So, how does one take care of this threat?
The most elegant way is to fool them. If you build your base right the spy will notice nothing out of the ordinary and leave delivering a meaningless report to his superior. Sooner or later though you won’t be able to hide your plans anymore - for example if a spy stumbles across that doomsday weapon collection of yours...
Now it is time to show our spies the truth. Arm your minions, ring the base alarm and most importantly – activate those traps! Trap building is something akin to building attractions in games like Roller Coaster Tycoon. Combining different trap tiles like jet engines, spikes, trap doors and many, many others you can catch (or kill) enemy spies. You can even buy trap test dummies to do a test run – unless of course there is a minion whose performance was disappointing lately...
While spies missing-in-action will of course arouse even more suspicion they maybe useful none-the-less.
Alive they can, once imprisoned, be interrogated – and for us the player the real fun starts here. A diver we caught ended up in a giant electric mixer and a guy from British Intelligence was still repeatedly being slammed between two bookshelves when I left.
Once you squeezed out all the information you need the poor spies suffering hasn’t ended yet. If you decide against eliminating him your scientist will be more than happy to experiment on him and who knows maybe a chemical bath will have a positive effect on his distinction between good and evil...
The name is Maximillian. Just Maximillian...
You may have read between the lines your Evil Genius is actually an in-game character. Running around your base he can punish lazy henchmen or visit the cellblock and provoke spies you caught *insert demonic laughter here*. Beware though – spies can try to break out so always make sure that that you have a few armed minions at hand!
Obviously the aim of the game is world domination and there are even multiple endings. Before I left I was given one final treat a glimpse at one of the possible ending movies showing one of the available doomsday weapons in action... but being eeeeevil myself I will leave it up to you to find out what the endings are...
Evil Genius will be released by the end of this month and I’m already looking forward to build my own evil empire – perhaps I finally find out what I have done wrong in real life all this time...