There’s little doubt that gaming’s malevolent megalomaniacs are some of the most misunderstood individuals in the world. Oftentimes, people assume that taking over the world by holding it hostage with a Doomsday weapon is all that these villains need. That’s a common mistake that your future ruler might overlook if they’re in a forgiving mood. But that’s probably no more than wishful thinking. Fortunately, Ash Tregay, producer for Evil Genius 2: World Domination at Rebellion, and Lead Designer Rich Edwards help introduce the game’s four playable characters and explain how they settled on total control of the world as viable career choices.
For the most part, the four geniuses represent the four different specialized minion types (General, Muscle, Science, and Deception). It’s up to you to choose the style that best suits you. Each genius has their own campaign story, marked by unique Doomsday Devices and décor furniture that matches their respective aesthetics.
Maximilian: Narcissistic Despot
Inspired by Dr. No from the James Bond movie of the same name, Maximilian Von Klein Generalist is the original Evil Genius from the first game. His return brings a more fleshed-out backstory and motivation.
Edwards describes him as the “gold standard” of the geniuses, which is a bit of a play on words. As a wealthy weapons inventor, his one passion in life is amassing all the planet’s gold — the one true currency worthy of an Evil Genius — and ensuring that the whole world glitters for him. Sometimes in a literal sense. To this end, he’s willing to do whatever it takes, including throwing tons of cash and minions at problems until he gets what he wants.
As an original villain, Maximilian is the best all-round character, allowing players to quickly adjust their strategies if need be. Of all the geniuses, he brings in the most gold, and he has some extra minions to get him started. Another benefit to playing as Maximilian is his special ability, Train Faster, which immediately promotes minions training near him to their specialty roles.
Red Ivan: Heavy Muscle Madman
Fans of the series will recognize Red Ivan as the henchman from the first game who had a habit of blowing up the base with his rocket launcher, leading many to lock him in a closet. Now he’s back as a playable character in Evil Genius 2 and ready to rule with a literal iron fist.
“He is this heavy metal madman,” according to Edwards. As a deposed warlord who once owned his own region of the world, he now wants to make the whole world his.
Although he still has his trusty rocket launcher with him, he’s a little less trigger-happy with it. However, players can order him to use it on invaders to cause massive destruction. “Ivan is a bit more measured if you as the player are measured,” Edwards said. “Putting him into the genius role means that we’re bringing him far closer to the player. And if you decide to blow up your lair, well that’s your own fault.”
As for his less explosive abilities, Ivan specializes in the use of extreme force. He can hire Muscle minions at a discounted cost and raise a sizeable army to crush invading forces. Even his basic worker minions pack a strong punch. He can also order his minions to work and fight harder, bolstering their combat abilities with his strong presence. Now you just have to avoid blowing up your minions alongside the intruders. Or don’t. Minions are replaceable.
Zalika: Scientist Zealot
The tech billionaire Zalika wants to make the world a better place, which is really the ultimate desire of every Evil Genius. “They just don’t necessarily agree with good people about how to do that,” Tregay explains. In Zalika’s case, she wants everyone to think good thoughts, thereby ending all conflicts and bringing a Golden Age. Her guarantee that everyone is always thinking on the bright side is that she’ll be in total control of said thoughts.
Wearing stylish sunglasses and a giant space helmet that makes room for her beehive hairdo, Zalika has an unrivaled intelligence and isn’t afraid to take on challenges. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a very strong opinion of the human race, and views us as woefully inefficient machines. Although this problem might seem insurmountable, beyond even the abilities of even a tech billionaire, she’s willing to build a secret underground lair to figure the problem out.
Her skills make her the clear choice for players who want to quickly make their way through the tech tree to unlock the most sophisticated traps and equipment. Science minions research faster with Zalika in charge, and they can receive an additional boost in efficiency when she lays the pressure on. Thanks to her high intelligence and a bunch of nanobots, she can instantly repair nearby machines and put out fires.
Given Zalika’s affinity for technology, it might be surprising to find out that she doesn’t have an army of robots. Instead, she’s bossing around an army of normal humans. According to Edwards, even though sentient robots exist in Evil Genius 2, it’s not technology that Zalika has access to at the start of her criminal enterprise. Also, human minions are much cheaper to recruit and replace.
Emma: Manipulative Ex-Spymaster
Voiced by Samantha Bond, who played Moneypenny in four of the Pierce Brosnan-era Bond films, Emma is characterized by Tregay as a spymaster who is like “M” from the Bond movies gone bad. In fact, Edwards explains that M, as played by Judi Dench, was a major inspiration for Emma as someone who could pull all the strings and use their agents to get the job done.
Other stand-out traits include how she rides around on a fantastically wicked-looking robotic spider-chair that releases small poisonous spiders to take out people that get in her way. When the situation requires it, Emma can use her chair as a weapon to crush her enemies. The Evil Genius 2 character animations show that she can move her legs, so riding around in it is clearly a stylistic choice that anyone with a mechanical spider-chair would make.
However, her other abilities are a little less showy. As the former head of H.A.M.M.E.R., part of the Forces of Justice, she has a deep understanding of how the world works. Emma knows how to go unnoticed by efficiently reducing heat across the world. Her Deception minions are more efficient at diverting the attention of investigators, and she can help enhance the spotting power of nearby minions to reveal hidden foes. When it comes time to strike, she can use her special ability to reset the cooldowns for her henchmen’s abilities, giving them an edge in combat.
But unlike the other geniuses, Emma’s motivation for wanting to take over the world is a bit obscure. The most we can say is that she’s bent on destroying the status quo, perhaps ending the threat of potential Evil Geniuses rising by being the Evil Genius in charge.
A genius plan
Depending on the player’s style, all the geniuses except for Red Ivan tend to keep a low profile deep within their bases, but they’re no slouches in battle either. For example, Maximilian has a golden gun, Zalika has an energy blaster, Red Ivan has his rocket launcher, and Emma has a killer chair. All can potentially turn the tide of battle when invaders and Super Agents arrive at your supposedly secret lair. However, geniuses always need plenty of minions to do their bidding.
Edwards explained that even though any given genius can help take out a few interlopers, they’re also vulnerable to being surrounded and brought low by invaders.
“It was the same way in the first game,” he said. “You could take the hands-on approach, but as time goes by, you want to make sure that you have a very good casino to make sure no agents enter your lair at full strength. You also want to make sure you have a decent amount of traps to weaken them further, and it can never hurt to have a small private army to back your genius up at a moment’s notice.”
Most of all, each genius has a big personality that is fully represented by their Doomsday weapon and plans to bring it online. All you have to do is decide which Evil Genius best suits your personality and play style.
You’ll have your pick of these characters when Evil Genius 2: World Domination releases on Steam on March 30.