Ok, so I started playing Age of Empires 3 again, but that fact that it was my second day blogging here and I'd already fallen behind what I was going to post stopped me. So here's the dirt on Evil Genius.
Evil Genius is a game where *Gasp* you play an evil genius trying to take over the world. Naturally, the forces of good don't like you gathering henchmen and pilfering stuff from around the world, and they certainly don't want you to build any doomsday devices, so they start swarming you from almost the get-go.
But enough background, and into the game. The thing that you will notice almost immediatly is the tag system. Instead of ordering units directly, like most other games, in Evil Genius, you have to tag objects, enemies, and places for your minions to go to. In other words, you have no real control over your minions, but can order them around rather easily.
The good part of this is you don't have to micromanage as much. You order some stuff, and eventually it'll get placed. You don't worry about the nitty-gritty, you're too busy worrying about your world domination plans. In terms of generating the real feeling of being an evil genius, the tag system does absolute wonders.
The downside to the tag system is the fact that there is no direct way of controlling your minions. They tend to get lost, do stupid things, build things in an illogical order, move things in an even more illogical order. You will find yourself at some point having too many minions in one area, and none of them able to move. The only solution is to have your genius execute some to clear the way, or have your henchmen gather minions and move them away. The longer you play the game, the more you get used to these things, and the more you secretly hate the tag system.
Another bad part of having no control over your minions is research. I'll be covering the research part of Evil Genius in my next post, but the basic problem, in relation to the tag system, is that you can't order your minions to scan certain objects for use in research. They have to find them themselves, and decide that it's a good idea. Also, if they ever abandon research for any strange reason (they are fickle little technicians) they will only very rarely pick it up again. Since you can't order them to keep researching, the project has to be abandoned and you have to wait for them to decide that it might be worth researching again.
So, the basics of a tag system. It is great to lessen micromanaging. It can really speed up gameplay, and it can lead to a very in-depth feel to certain game types (like Evil Genius). The obvious downsides are lack of control and a need for a very optimized AI. All in all, the tag system could be a good part of the perfect game, but I really doubt it will be included in many titles because of the demands on AI.
Coming up next: The Research system of Evil Genius.