A plague upon your house...
Apparently, the recipe for adapting a successful movie into a fun and playable game is as elusive as the secret of immortality. One of the latest victims of this unholy alchemy is The Mummy. The 1999 movie starred Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell, a legionnaire and adventurer who leads an expedition to a ruined ancient Egyptian city and ends up engaging in mortal combat with a 3000 year old flesh absorbing magical mummy.
Nearly two years after the release of this fantasy-action fluff, Konami and Universal Studios have combined their efforts to produce The Mummy, a game which, for the most part, looks and plays like something your little brother created with his Yaroze.
The Mummy opens with pilfered movie footage of the rebirth of the mummy Imhotep, cursed into mummyhood after giving 'The Bad Touch' to Sety I's hottie of a mistress and poking the Pharaoh with sharp objects. As Rick O'Connell, you must venture into the depths of the buried city of Hamunaptra in search of gold and glory.
While the backgrounds have suitable Egyptian mural-like textures, the graphics in general are horrible. Character models are woefully low on polygons, resulting in terrible looking characters. Rick's head appears to be made of perhaps one or two polygons with a bloated texture-map of Brendan Fraser's face stuck on the front.
Clumsy directional movement hinders the relatively simple control. As you attempt to urge Rick into a serpentine maneuver in an effort to evade assailants or falling objects, our hero responds by demonstrating the fact that he has the turning radius of the QE2. Laughably bad animation has Rick running around with his knees out to the sides, sort of like Yosemite Sam after experimental hemorrhoid surgery. And Rick accomplishes his backstep by looking over his shoulder and shuffling backwards with all the torturously slow caution of a timid driver trying to ease a brand new SUV into a compact slot between a minivan and a tow truck. All that's missing is the beeeep....beeeep....beeeep....
The game is unbelievably dark. Black shadows are your constant companions, obscuring not only what is in the distance, but also objects which are no more than a few feet from where your character stands with a lit torch. Angling the camera around to gain a glimpse of what lurks in the darkness often reveals nothing. Moving closer - say, within three feet from the object the darkness has so cleverly hidden - will probably reveal a lighted wall sconce that should have been visible the moment you entered the room. Guiding Rick through this fog with or without a torch is like a legally blind person trying to navigate an efficient route through an underground sewer system.
The Mummy utilizes the original movie score as background music to your underground travails. Kind of like going spelunking with the entire London Philharmonic Orchestra.
The gameplay consists of wandering in darkness, picking up floating items and killing anything that moves. Don't worry about fully exploring the blackened labyrinths; there's nothing to them that can't be seen with the unaided eye, despite the fog. This straightforward, linear game takes no detours.
You can only save at the end of a level. Instead of unlimited continue options, you begin the game with a fixed number of lives and must discover floating icons to gain more. This gives The Mummy the sickeningly familiar feel of an 8-bit game.
The puzzles are extremely easy. Doors open via switches or star key pieces and the solutions to these puzzles are almost invariably two inches from the door you're trying to open. While this may sound pleasing to a few people exhausted from all the Vulcan Mind-Melds it takes to complete a Tomb Raider game, it isn't. What's the point of a puzzle if it's not challenging?
The combat consists of killing hordes of mummified undead, rabid scarabs and tomb robbers. You are given several means of dispatching your enemies - fists, torch, pistols, dynamite, machete, a magical explosive amulet, etc. Just a heads up for the curious: the only things you'll be taking out with your fists are scarabs crawling along the ground. Rick O'Connell doesn't even stoop when he gives them the ol' knuckle sandwich; he just punches the air, which must cause the molecules within the atmosphere to become positively charged. Rick then focuses his chi into the insects which results in their sudden flatness.
Enemies sneak up from behind and surround you in numbers. While facing off against the throngs of evil in "one against many" fashion sounds cool, the makers of The Mummy have insured that it isn't by failing to include any sort of AI. Aside from the double, triple, and quadruple team-ups they subject you to, all enemies die pretty easily. The slaughter is monotonous, and don't think you're going to entertain yourself with Rick O'Connell's fluid fighting style and fancy footwork. Everybody in this game creaks around with awkward, over-starched movements reminiscent of Rock'em Sock'em Robots on Thorazine.
Ultimately, this game is a movie rip-off perpetrated by greedy execs who are certain that the people who enjoyed the movie will be intrigued enough to shell out for this stinker. No doubt the true Imhotep is presently trying to kick a hole in his sarcophagus lid to get at the Konami programmers who have blasphemed his name by attaching it to this abomination. After he's done with them, maybe we can convince him to go after the makers of Blade, Crow: City of Angels and Space Jam.