30 second review: Evil Genius Online

Way back in the olden days (late 2004), Sierra published a new title developed by Elixir Studios: “Evil Genius”. A real-time strategy game, Evil Genius put you in the role of a Bond-style villain, building a secret lair and committing acts of infamy to take over the world.

I could totally identify with this game (I often find myself plotting against humanity). It was my go-to time-killer for quite some time; there’s nothing more fun than watching those hapless secret agents walking into carefully prepared traps. A lot of thought obviously went into the game, with a wicked sense of humour throughout. My personal favourite was the mission to steal the Frikken Laser. Hours of fun.

Fast forward to the present, and the title is now owned by Rebellion (Elixir shut down in 2005). Rebellion have re-worked the title into Evil Genius Online, which is available free on iOS devices and Facebook.

Evil Genius Online returns the look and feel of the original game, with stylised cartoon style graphics. Much of the original sense of humour seems to be there as well.

Unfortunately, it’s not worth the price of admission.

What was once a brilliant and original concept has been turned into FarmVille. Yes, while free to download, the game is little more than a tap-and-wait title, with growing crops replaced with developing explosives. And yes, there is a dual system of in-game currency, with gold (can be earned in the game) and gems (purchased with real money). Especially galling is the mission that can only be completed by spending a heap of gems, forcing you to make that in-app purchase.

Even worse, every time you launch the game you are inflicted with a compulsory round of advertising.

The sad part is that the public has spoken, and this style of game seems to be the way of the future. For some reason people won’t fork out the money for a premium game title, but are prepared to drop a tonne of cash on silly in-app purchases. The insane amount of money being raked in by the mindless Kardashian title only proves this.

Personally, I’d be much happier to pay ten dollars (hell, even twenty!) and have a faithful port of the original title, with no annoying advertising or in-app purchases to get in the way of actually enjoying the game. Seems the rest of the world is okay with shitty titles that aren’t actually fun to play.