Windows - 2000
Description of The Mummy Windows
There are some things in this world which are doomed to failure before they were even dreamt of by some mad inventor in his squalid laboratory. Things like mint-flavoured peas, ying-yang shaped coffee tables, or a toothbrush that doubles as an earwax remover. It applies to computer games as well; decent Playstation ports come once every century and good film license conversions are so rare, they're a protected species. So when a port from a Playstation game, which also happens to be a film license comes along, it should, by all the laws of common sense, be an absolute disaster. Nothing in the history of videogames, or indeed in the history of anything, ever, says this is a good idea and it's going to work. So why have Rebellion, respected developers of the more than respectable Alien vs. Predator, made the game? Answers on a postcard to: Rebellion's Big Bulging Bank Account, Switzerland.
Cynicism and possible lawsuits aside, The Mummy is a game aimed fairly and squarely at the younger audience, and as a result isn't particularly suitable for anyone over the age of seven. This is a tad unfortunate because ELSPA have given it an 11+ rating. Anyway, if you've read this far, I suppose you'll want to know more about the game.
The Mummy follows the basic plot and characters from the film. You are Rick O'Connell, a Foreign Legionnaire who narrowly escapes with his life from a battle raging above the ancient and deserted city of Hamunaptra. He later returns with Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan and her treasure-obsessed brother Jonathan. The adventure begins when Evelyn reads from the Book of the Dead and accidentally reawakens Imhotep, a long-dead Egyptian bad guy who commands his army of mummies to wreak havoc on O'Connell and the crew who delve deeper and deeper into the pyramid.
As you might expect, the story is largely ignored and takes a distant second place to the Tomb Raider -esque running and jumping antics which dominate the game. But if you're looking for a spiritual successor to Tomb Raider, then you're bound to be disappointed. Yes, you run about a lot shooting bad guys, yes you have to jump from ledge to ledge quite a bit as well, but for all its Lara-like pretensions, The Mummy falls short by a long distance.
The first disappointment comes with the graphics. Now, the poor graphics on Playstation ports are nothing new, but when games like Sacrifice, Giants and Severance have graphics so sweet, they'd melt in your mouth, the downright ugliness of The Mummy becomes more apparent and even more inexcusable. Textures are bland and lifeless with a ridiculously low resolution, the real-time lighting is prehistoric and the animation is, frankly, a joke. O'Connell runs like he's in a Charlie Chaplin movie, with back ramrod straight, knees kicking up to his stomach and arms at perfect right angles. Tell him to run at max speed and he just ducks his head down and waves his arms and legs around faster, which looks as silly as it sounds.
Backing away from enemies is also a waste of time because your character walks backwards at the heady speed of ten feet per hour, which often means you get chewed up in no time. Footprints look like someone slapped a black and white .pcx file where his feet went, but perhaps the worst offence of them all, is the sudden drop into darkness. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a pyramid and any light is blocked out by thousands of tons of stone, but why can you see perfectly for about 15ft and the rest of the world is plunged into darkness? My (ill) educated guess would be that it's to keep up the framerate on the ageing Playstation.
But poor graphics don't necessarily make for a poor game. Just look at Civilization - when I first started playing that I thought catapults were really offensive quill pens, but it was a cracking game none the less. Unfortunately The Mummy falls down on just about every other element, as well.
Yes, the controls. You see, whereas on the PSX, you had a nice little joypad to twirl your character around, with the PC, you've got a big, unwieldy keyboard. Now this is fine for first-person shooters, flight sim's and strategy games, but for stuff like this, you really want a joypad. Trouble is, you can't use one in The Mummy. No problem, you think, I'll configure the controls. Sorry, you can't do that either. You have to use the default controls that straddle the length and depth of the entire keyboard. Mavis Beacon would have a fit if she had to play this. There is an option to use the mouse, but I'm not even going to go there.
Combine this with the tacky animation and you've got some really serious control issues, especially when you throw in the dodgy collision detection. Problems arise when the ground is anything other than spirit level flat. Should a bump appear, no matter how tiny, you'll have to jump over it. To put this into perspective for a moment, there are even some cases where you can't climb the stairs the level designers put in for you to climb. Which all begs the question why they included a room with bobbing tiles on the floor? So you could get stuck on half of them?
Well what about the gameplay?
The gameplay? Repetitive, frustrating and exceedingly difficult, especially when you consider its target audience. The Mummy, like so many games of late, has no mid-level save function. This will put a lot of people off straight away - which is a good thing, but it needn't be like that! Implemented properly, the lack of an in-game save can add tension and greater immersion in the game, but get it wrong, and the player will end up going over and over the same piece of ground more times than even the most masochistic of gamers wants to. Throw in the fact that every level contains the same old stuff over and over again anyway, and you end up with a very monotonous experience. Most of the time you simply have to kill a certain number of enemies until you can progress, with no explanation as to why.
The reason it's really frustrating has more to do with the difficulty of the game. You see, it's extremely difficult to avoid being hit by the mummies and they have a tendency to gang up on you. Things aren't so bad one-on-one but it's more often five-to-one and you've rarely got enough ammunition for your weapons to keep them at bay. This means you have to resort to your close combat weapons which are about as offensive as a toothpick.
Ok, how about the AI?
These are mummies; they're the living dead. They have no brains, no consciousness, and more often than not they don't have all their limbs, either. Having said that, though, they do seem rather toodense. Now obviously you can't expect them to act like they were members of a SWAT team in their past life, but there are certain standards. For instance, many are convinced they can walk through solid stone to get to you. They can't, of course, but they're determined little buggers and won't stop trying. They do have some manners, though. It's not often, but now and again a mummy is polite enough to let you see off his friend before he starts his attack. Very gentlemanly.
So, it's crap then?
It's not often this happens, but now and again I genuinely struggle to find good points about a game. The humour in the cut-scenes isn't bad; when Evelyn wants to open the Book of the Dead (which is the start of their problems), O'Connell asks her 'And that would be good because...?' The musical score is pretty enjoyable too, but I've got more than a sneaking suspicion that it's been ripped from the film.
It really would have been pleasing if The Mummy broke the mould and actually turned out to be rather good. It certainly had the developers to do it but, as it happens, it ended up being just as bad as most people expected it to be. Graphics, animation and controls aside, The Mummy is too dull and repetitive for the hardcore gamer, and yet too hard and unrewarding for young children. Not recommended.
Review By GamesDomain
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