Literally the week before this came out I was thinking “I really wish there was a new genius” and as if my diabolical prayers of new world domination were answered enter the Polar DLC.
This DLC is a big change to the main game and definitely not for those who’ve not conquered the original first. It opens up sea sections on the world map allowing you to conduct naval strikes with your minions via submarines. To construct these submarines it has a new minion type, the engineer who’s a science type who can construct said submarines as well as automated turrets and various projects similar to the research menu. They have their own room similar to the laboratory, with work desks that function pretty much like the computers that would generate you intel only “tech” is the new currency and other machines akin to the laboratory ones that are for various degrees of tech upgrades.
Now the first issue here is you still have a 300 minion cap so you need to reduce what minions you have in other areas to free up some so they can be trained as engineers. Turrets felt a bit underwhelming early on as they aren’t that tough, need reloading and take up space a trap could do a similar job in. The later turrets however were deadly in choke points, which as it turned out was also very necessary because divers (a new agent type) are an utter thorn in your side throughout the whole game. More shall be said about divers later and I nearly rage quit my first play through when caught in a diver attack loop.
The other big overhaul the game has been given by this DLC is temperature. You now need to regulate
each rooms temperature so minions in there aren’t too hot or too cold depending on the items in that room (a bit like Two Point Hospital). This did mean my usual layout of my super nuclear reactor room was utterly outdated and I needed to rearrange this so I could have industrial air cons near every generator so they didn’t all run crazily hot. There seems no reward for perfect room management, only detriment if you get it wrong. Thankfully the new base map had a lot of digging room so I didn’t run out of space, but the original maps might feel very tight suddenly now you need heat regulation in every room.
The new genius is Polar, an eco terrorist who is determined to save the planet by putting it into a new ice ace to stop global warming. Her plot was fun to go through, though as a close combat genius I mostly hid her and let the henchmen and minions do my fighting for me.
To combat Polar and her naughty nautical ways they have introduced a navel based Forces of Justice in addition to the original ones named JAWS. JAW’s focus is in the sea zones you run schemes in and their super agent is a diver named Deep Six. I grew to hate the divers. Like really hate them. The problem with them wasn’t that they were investigators with soldier combat stats and vastly improved weapons. It wasn’t that there seemed to be a very quick turn around from defeating one squad till the next would arrive. Its that the divers spawn from your submarine hangers. So trying to get my minions into the world to complete game objectives as wave after wave of minion slaughtering divers would turn up and kill anyone waiting by the sub for the rest of their strike team to arrive, before mopping up any one else foolish enough to try to come for help was very infuriating. Even my henchmen would get wiped out in seconds of trying to intervene.
On the world map you now have areas of the ocean you can have a criminal network in. These effectively work the same as the land areas, though you need a submarine to explore, upgrade them and run their schemes rather than the helicopter. Sea sections boost close regions rather than benefit directly from their own little schemes so I simply let them tick over rather than have seal team 6 rocking up over and over slaughtering my little away teams as they were waiting by the submarine bay for Simon the Scientist who was always late presumably because he couldn’t find his portable oscilloscope. And even when Simon did get there and everyone safely got on-board they weren’t that helpful as money after a few hours is more the issue of where do I store it not how do I get it. Playing as Polar though sea sections are required to advance her main story so when I ran those schemes id wait with bated breath hoping to get the sub away before inevitable death showed up.
The DLC very much felt like playing on hard rather than simply adding new content. Increasing the minion cap would have been nice given I had a completely new minion type to manage and the engineers and their tech was vital to advance the main plot so I felt I was a significant number of minions in my base down constantly. Turrets were fun but very quickly ran out of ammo and weren’t especially durable once depleted. Submarine bays (or diver magnets) were incredibly frustrating. At one point I sold all of them to deny the little bastards entry while I re build my depleted muscle minions but I couldn’t even get my workers in fast enough to sell said entry points without having them gunned mercilessly down.
I ended up abandoning the sea for a good while, and had my submarine bays at the end of a long line of corridor after corridor filled with traps, my preference being the laser discos so when the divers arrived over and over all they managed was repeated John Travolta impersonations until turning into neat little body bags. I never really bothered watching my traps that much in the original but in this DLC I watched with glee as the divers danced to death like ants under a magnifying glass held by a cruel child.
4 paws out of 5
So does this DLC change the game much? No not really. But is the new DLC fun and worth getting? Hell yes! I actually immediately started a second campaign after I finished Polar’s campaign to see if Ivan had any better luck vs the divers. They did not, just like Vultan’s hawkmen falling out the sky dead as they assaulted Rocket Ajax in Flash Gordon my minions were slaughtered by the little bastards.