If the meddling heroes make it past the “Employees Only” doors, you can get into some tense dust-ups with higher stakes and tougher enemies the more infamous you become. I found these became kind of repetitive and meaningless, though, and mostly boiled down to hitting a lockdown button so my security forces would go and deal with the problem. The cool traps you can deploy unlock so late in the tech tree that my base was usually too established to make the best use of them without painstakingly and completely relocating all of my vital operations. If I could have started out with a bunch of money to build an entire dummy floor for the purpose of slowing down my enemies, that would have been great. But Evil Genius 2 doesn’t really give you the chance to do that.Unfortunately, for almost every spot where Evil Genius excels in the style department, I can point to one where it falls short in substance. Building a multi-layered base full of evil computers, evil bunk beds, and evil particle accelerator things, wwas a rewarding way to customize my operation, with the added wrinkle of having to think about how to best make use of limited space. But almost everything else I had to do to take over the world was not so pleasant.
Let’s cut right to the chase. The world map is where you deploy minions to steal money, kidnap specialists who can train your staff to do new jobs, and complete story missions. As a whole, it’s mostly a giant mess and I hate it. Its existence dragged my machinations down time and again. For example, there’s a little number next to the menu button which will show you how many of your global criminal networks are idle, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to quickly see which ones need attention once you’re on the map screen. You have to actually hover over each one to check its status and see who needs a new assignment. Don’t I have lackeys to trudge through this tedium for me?!
I ended up mostly ignoring the active operations like heists or distracting the authorities unless I needed a quick cash infusion or there was a story mission to complete. It’s a major chore to try to have a lot of operations running constantly. And the rewards don’t usually seem worth it, since each network will generate a small amount of passive income even if you do nothing, which was more than enough to keep things running smoothly once I had enough outposts built.
This interface is generally terrible at communicating objectives, too, doling out vague directives and assuming you’ll be able to psychically discern what steps are required to get there. For example, it might tell you to recruit two new types of minions to fill out your roster. But it will never tell you that you need to do this by opening the Side Stories screen and selecting a specific adventure that will unlock them. I ran into this issue almost constantly, in every single genius’s campaign. The tutorial is mediocre at best, and there doesn’t even seem to be a glossary to explain basic game terms. Not anywhere that I could find it, anyway.
While the art, voice acting, and overall theme harmonize so beautifully that I want to steeple my fingers and practice my evil laugh, almost every moment of playing Evil Genius 2 is plagued by a clunky, needy world map layer and confusing, poorly communicated objectives. It’s the kind of problem that playtesting usually brings out during development, and this game could’ve used more of that. Once I eventually stumbled blindly onto the solutions to some of these frustrating problems through brute force trial and error, I could see the promise of a dastardly good time of laying traps and spinning plates hiding underneath. But being constantly surrounded by fools wasn’t quite worth the reward, at the end of the doomsday.