2021. It has been what some call “a year”. To celebrate this collection of sun rotations, we’re looking at the best games of 2021. Next up: Evil Genius 2: World Domination.
In your hobbies, and life in general to be honest, it’s good to test your boundaries and challenge yourself with something that’s unknown or unfamiliar to you. While I should probably apply that notion more to food considering I’m a stupidly fussy eater, it is something I try to do with video games. Last year, it paid dividends with the console release of Gears Tactics. As someone who bounced hard off XCOM, Gears Tactics felt like a great stepping stone into a genre I’d typically be out of my depth in.
This year would prove to be no different, with Rebellion’s Evil Genius 2: World Domination being that unfamiliar game that happened to catch my eye. Granted, I had to wait for most of the year for the game to be ported to consoles because my laptop would likely struggle to run World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros., but it was worth the wait. It turns out that playing as the megalomaniacal Bond villain of your dreams is actually pretty gosh darn fun, even on consoles.
Taking control of one of several evil villains, each with their own unique abilities and perks, you must form the most villainous group in the world and use it to grab world nations by the short and curlies. In the beginning, you’ll be sending minions out on petty crimes, but by the end of the game, you’re building doomsday devices and protecting your lair from super-powered pesky do-gooders. How dare they ruin your evil fun.
Management games on consoles tend to be a bit of a mixed bag. Typically, they’re great ports that do excellent jobs of capturing masses of data and trackable metrics and applying them to a console layout, but they’re either menu-filled UI nightmare that’s hard to navigate, or the controls are so fiddly and require so many combination inputs to access shortcuts and quick menus that it becomes impossible to get any actual management done.
Evil Genius 2’s experience on a controller feels so much more natural than other management games I’ve played. Everything from the menus to the controls and beyond makes the game really shine on a platform that could really have done the game a disservice. Sure, there’s a little bit of fiddliness when it comes to selecting a particular minion or agent in a crowded area, but that’s what the pause button is for. “Oops, I’ll just stop time and take care of this problem immediately.”
The beauty of Evil Genius 2 is that it does an incredible job of onboarding the player with its systems, slowly drip-feeding new ideas and mechanics into the mix throughout the course of a lengthy tutorial, and because the base-building mechanics are so simple, EG2 is easy to get to grips with. While Planet Coaster might have had a good tutorial, the actual coaster construction felt off when using controllers, and managing the ride’s various attributes became bothersome. Here, the process of building and expanding is so much more immediately rewarding.
While you start with nothing, there’s a joy that comes with seeing the base fill up over the course of several hours, transitioning from just a corridor with a couple of minions to a fully operational base with hundreds of ne’er-do-wells on the payroll. It’s this growth that powers EG2’s gameplay loop, as you build a bigger base with more powerful equipment so you can expand your criminal network and earn more money to build more base essentials. Watching your lair evolve and take shape as you build additional rooms or substitute old equipment for newer, more efficient stuff feels like the story within a story. Sure, the end goal is world domination, but the journey to get there is oh so sweet.
Perhaps the biggest sign of the game’s quality, at least in my eyes, came from my first session with Evil Genius 2. It was about 2am, and unfortunately, I knew sleep wasn’t on the cards. With no other ideas in mind, I decided to give EG 2 a whirl. What better time than now, right? In what felt like a blink, my criminal empire had established operations around half the globe, so I checked the time – 7am. You want to know the worst part? I wanted to keep going.
I was perfectly content with staying on the couch and playing Evil Genius 2 until I passed out, because I was so enamoured with the game and seeing my little nefarious enterprise slowly take over the world. Perhaps Rebellion are the evil geniuses themselves, creating a game so good that it leads to silly games writers staring at a laptop because they’re too tired to write. Or, I just need to sort my shit out. Either way, Evil Genius 2 is great, and Christmas this year will be filled with freeze rays and torture chambers over advent calendars and stockings.
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