What do you get for the boyfriend who has everything? Why, a volcano lair of course! At least that’s the conclusion I came to when hunting for the perfect anniversary present a few weeks ago. I spotted a copy in a discount bin (don’t tell him that) and couldn’t resist. After all, we are huge fans of the Sean Connery Bond films and this seemed to be a rather clever spoof of the movies, and hopefully a good game too.
The game is split into two areas. The first is something akin to SimEvilLair. You are tasked with designing a base from which to launch various nefarious deeds. The primary problem I had with this portion of the game was that you receive the ability to build various rooms and objects in a piecemeal fashion. You never know what you’ll get next or how useful a particular room will be. Additionally, you have no clue what size objects are supposed to fit in the room. In fact, the first power plant room I built was too small to accommodate a single generator. Eventually I had three or four power plants scattered through my base in a desperate attempt to ensure an ample power supply. Despite numerous setbacks, I really did enjoy laying out my base.
The second aspect of the game centered around the execution of criminal acts across the globe. You send your minions and henchmen around the world on a stealing spree, as a means of financing the construction of your base, to plot nefarious schemes, or to carry out outrageous heists. Anything from clubbing baby seals to destroying Nashville (this is labeled as a good deed since you’re destroying the birthplace of country music). I couldn’t bring myself to hurt the baby seals or destroy National Parks, but I took a great deal of delight in torching Nashville and stealing the Ark of the Covenant. I pride myself on being an environmentally conscious super villain. Well, unless you live in Tennessee.
Sadly, these evil deeds do not go unnoticed. You gather heat, and with heat come the tourists (I have no idea why), agents, saboteurs, thieves, inspectors, and the dreaded super agents. My initial approach was to slaughter them all. This can be done by issuing a simple kill order or by building ingenious traps. The system for laying traps is a bit tedious and more than a little confusing, so I of course just skipped it and issued kill tags for any non-minions on the island. Regrettably I had built a very small freezer and was unable to properly store all the body bags I was accumulating with this method. They piled up everywhere, awaiting a time when I had enough money to build a humongous freezer.
However, a simple kill tag does not work on the dreaded super agents. You only begin to learn how to defeat them toward the end of the game. Even then I had trouble figuring out how to tear up a beloved stuffed animal in front of an agent in order to break them. It was so bad that I broke down and scoured a variety of walkthroughs to figure out exactly how to do it, an indication of how desperate I was since my personal motto (or at least one of them) is “instructions are for the Weak!” In the meantime the super agents went around blowing large portions of my base apart, even though I had it set to the easiest difficulty. At one point I was down to three minions and every room in my base had been gutted.
Despite it’s less than intuitive set up and even more unwieldy glossary, I truly enjoyed this game. I took my time climbing to the top, so I got about two weeks worth of play time out of this game. I still haven’t finished though. I have yet to launch my doomsday device and broadcast my demands to the world, but I really don’t want to. I am content to leave my evil genius where she is. Maybe in a few months I’ll get around to taking over the globe, but I got bored with it. For that matter so did my boyfriend and his brother, which is why I now have possession of the game. Quite frankly, I would be content to simply continue hassling the world at large. The worst parts of the gameplay were fulfilling the objectives laid out by the game. I kept hoping the next objective would be more fun, but instead each got more frustrating; hence my abandonment of this title.
Overall, I would recommend this game to the coordination-challenged out there, who are looking for a somewhat unique twist to the regular Sim formula. Minimal dexterity is needed, although you do need to learn to split your attention between your base and your global operations or things will begin to go south very quickly. What you really need is a significant attention span and the desire to spend hours acquiring resources and minions so that you can launch missions at just the right time. Master that, Grasshopper, and the world will be yours to torment.
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