I first found out about Evil Genius around about when it came out way back in 2004 but i didn't actualy get myself the game until a few years later.
Basiclly Evil Genius takes movies like Austin Powers and turns them on their head. Although set in the world of 60's espionage, the era that gave us the birth of the Cold War and James Bond, the game allows you to play as the bad guy, the man (or woman) who's greatest desire is world domination. To achieve your goals your must build your underground lair, hire minions and combat the forces of good who will attempt to stop you at every turn.
In terms of gameplay Evil Genius will be instantly recognisable for anyone who has played any top-down tycoon games. First you must build you base using the resourses avalable (gold) and then, after achieving a few basic goals, you must begin to send your minions out into the world to reak havoc and let people know who is the new boss of the criminal underworld.
The game takes place on two screens, your base screen is the main one of these where you can see what is happening around your base in realtime and order around your minions to complete tasks such as build and furnish new rooms or attack enemies who are inspecting your island or raiding your base.
The second screen you will use is the World Domination screen which involves a world map divided up into various alliances the world is divided into. This screen is also used to send your minions out to commit Acts of Evil which act to increase your infamy in order to give you a greater reputation in the world of evil.
The gameplay in Evil Genius is quite well done for the amount of action that occures. The whole interface is fairly intuitive and the tutorial does a good job of getting the player up to scratch on anything that may not be clear. The games main strenghs come due to the games subject matter, being evil you don'y have to worry about being nice. Don't think that worker is working hard enough? Kill him and watch the other minions fear you. Don't want enemies having a look around your base? Just set up some gas traps and watch the 007 lookalikes meet their doom.
The game is not without faults however, one of the big problems is the AI. Your minions generaly do not have a problem carrying out your orfers, however i have found that sometimes minions will end up dropping from exaustion even tho you do have enough beds in your barracks. Its also possible to see minions hanging around even tho they could be doing various actions around the base. The other problem is timing. For example to build a room a minion needs to run, get money, buy TNT, blast a space for the room, get more money, buy furnishings for the room. This is fine if the room is all the minions have to deal with but if you have a few orders on the go at once your timing can go out the window as you sit at your computer waiting as your minions play catchup. Its not a huge problem but it is a fairly constant one.
All in all, Evil Genius is not a perfect game, but it takes a genre that is all to often plauged by cheap, low quality games, and gives it a kick. Not only does the game let you be evil, but it lets you do it while you play a game that has some depth and some really good gameplay mechanics. In the end Evil Genius will probably make you a worse human being, but you are going to have fun watching your morals go out the window.