Wednesday, 27 August 2008

It's good to be bad

The title is not advice intended for the real world, but I doubt many people come to this little slice of the net to re-adjust their moral outlooks on life. When watching a bond film, have you ever sat their screaming at your television because the master villain is going about his plan all wrong? Probably not for fear of being committed, but you would not be alone if you thought to yourself why that particular bad guy made terrible decisions, and what you would have done to make his diabolical scheme a success.

Enter my current favourite game. I was so excited to get another copy since loosing my original, that I have played it for nearly three days straight. Evil Genius puts you in the boots of exactly that, a devious plotter, focused on world domination. It does it of course in a very over the top and tongue in cheek way, making it one of the most enjoyable games that I can think of, for a very wide audience. Rather than giving you the hands on, bank robbing, mass murdering grunt work, your are more of an overseer of operations. It is your task to build a fiendish base on an abandoned island of an undisclosed location, recruit a minion work force and advance your plan.

My favourite aspect of the game is actually building and running the base. It is so much fun rigging a corridor with traps, just waiting for a hapless, wannabe James Bond to stumble into it and trigger a hellish sequence that ends in their demise. My latest trap involved a wind tunnel that went around a couple of corners, slamming the agents into walls until they ended up on a bed of deadly circular saws. It's all good clean fun. It really got me thinking though. Why is there no other good game like this.

The style of the game reminds me of the good ol' Bullfrog days with Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper. No, you can not pay a handy man to mop up sick, but it is a similar style in that you hire minions to do your bidding where you tell them what to do, but have no direct control over them. It is brilliant fun, and there is plenty of dark humour to keep you writhing around in your chair for hours.

As well as the actual gameplay perspective being enjoyable, I also really like being evil in games. Bad guys really do have more fun. In a gaming world that is populated with grey, anti-heroes, it has nice to actually be 100% evil from time to time. It has to be done in a humorous way mind, as a game called 'Osama Takes On The West', might not do too well unless their head of advertising is actually God.

Evil Genius does well in not taking itself seriously. There is everything that you would expect an over the top and slightly camp villain to have including perilously placed piranha tanks, security cameras hidden inside tribal statues and an endless supply of minions that the good guys seem to be able to take out in one punch.

I suppose what I am really trying to say, is that an Evil Genius 2 or Dungeon Keeper 3 would actually make me incredible happy in places that I probably shouldn't talk about. It is an untapped take on the genre which has been without a revisit for a while now. I could also say bring back Bullfrog and all of the Theme games, probably rallying a group of supporters larger than those wanting to free Tibet. For now however, we'll just have to be contempt with those great past masters that are still fun to play now.

No comments: