Evil Genius comes from the golden era of PC management and god games, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper 2 to offer imaginative base-building with a distinctive art style and a ton of personality. Set in a vibrant sixties spy-thriller world, Evil Genius was filled with the kind of comical villains that would give Dr Evil a run for his one million dollars.
Now, Evil Genius 2: World Domination brings the series back to the global stage, offering four geniuses to control. There are old faces and new, each with their own vision for taking over the world and unique abilities to aid their mission. Here’s a little meet-and-greet of the four titular geniuses.
The face of the series (and rightfully so, he’d tell you). Maximilian fuses the venerable Bond-villainy of Blofeld, the ambition and short-man complex of Napoleon Bonaparte, and an ageing English bulldog (though you wouldn’t guess that from how fast the guy moves).
Bullied throughout his early years, it’s little wonder that Little Max turned his money-making genius towards misanthropy rather than philanthropy. He’s a strangely good motivator for such an unsightly creature, with the ability to accelerate minion training as well as their work rate.
He’s the all-rounder, starting with a large workforce rather than any particular specialisation. That makes him a good pick for those learning the ropes, and he’s a nifty shot with the revolver too.
There’s a lesson in this: don’t bully the geeky kids at school, no matter how infuriating they are, because that’s how Maximilians get created.
This disgruntled dame is a former spymaster whose greatest asset is her understanding of the inner workings of governmental spy agencies (though her mech-arachnid chair comes a close second).
Emma’s past makes her a master of deception, which means that minions like valets, socialites and spin doctors will be more effective at throwing snoopy spies off your scent. She’s also capable of increasing your minions’ spotting power, and keeps your henchmen on the ball by resetting the cooldowns for their special abilities.
Oh, and if her voice sounds oddly familiar, that may be because she’s voiced by Samantha Bond - the woman who played Miss Moneypenny throughout the Pierce Brosnan era of Bond films.
No gold stars for guessing this guy’s roots, although those who played the first game may recognise Ivan as one of the original henchmen. It turns out that in the wake of the mystery genius’ successful world conquest in Evil Genius 1, Ivan was granted his very own country. From there, we guess his thinking was, ‘If I can rule a country with an iron fist, why not the whole world?’
Ivan is a bruiser, packing a rocket launcher that deals huge damage to minions and enemies alike - Stalin’s idiom about omelettes and eggs springs to mind.
He can motivate minions to fight intruders harder, and gets a discount on hard-hitting muscle minions too.
Put him near your base’s entrance when intruders enter and watch the bodies fly!
We like to think that that spectacular wasp-nest haircut is hiding Zalika’s vast scientific brain, concocting endless theories about the insignificance of humanity in relation to the endless cosmic void. She doesn’t necessarily want to destroy humanity, but she does know what’s best for it, and therefore must become its single super-intelligent leader to enact her vision of the future.
To that utopian end, Zalika motivates science minions to research new technologies faster, and expertly keeps all your equipment running smoothly by auto-repairing it and extinguishing fires.
She can handle herself in a fight too, blasting goo-green beams of energy at assailants. Very handy for fending off investigators in the early game.
Which one of these glorious leaders best aligns with your villainous fantasies? Take your pick, then take over the world in Evil Genius 2: World Domination, available now on Steam.