The Mummy Returns

Gamestyle Archive Intro: I cannot remember anything about this game whatsoever but it is one you’ll often see in bargain bins or charity shops. Another to file in the disappointing film license category. Dating from November 2001 and reviewed by JJ.

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One of the biggest films of the year arrives on the Playstation 2 in the form of a two-part adventure following the storyline closely. Developed by Blitz Games the game has been created with support from Universal Interactive and the cast of the film, ensuring that this really is the official Mummy game.

A disappointing sequel to the fun, if predictable original, the Mummy license is highly regarded even after the bland Psone game. Not only does the film contain memorable characters and visuals, it appeals to all ages without entering kiddie’s territory or horror. Now for anyone who actually missed the summer and therefore the movie, I will provide a brief introduction to the plot and the game. The hero from the first film (Rick O’Donnell) has settled down to raise and still try his hand in exploration of ancient Egypt and discovers artefacts relating the legend of the Scorpion King.

The story revolves around this Scorpion King, formally a good guy gone bad and the quest to unleash his unstoppable armies on the world. Amongst all of this, Imhotep is resurrected to race Rick in a roller coaster ride to find and command the Scorpion King. The unique feature of the game is that you can choose to play the part of the hero or villain on two separate adventures. Rick as the hero must rescue his family from Imhotep before then facing the Scorpion King. As Imhotep you must regain your powers by collecting various items before trying to resurrect the Scorpion King and his armies, then ensuring world domination. Both adventures feature different locations and follow the script of the film, proving to be rewarding for any fan of the epic. Disappointingly any fans of the film expecting to fight the Anubis armies or flee from the ever-hungry scarabs will be left wondering why such fantastic opportunities were not included in the game. When such enemies do arise, they are in single numbers, losing the epic nature of the film and robbing the game of some key sequences.

While many videogames are graphically solid but lacking a plot, The Mummy Returns is an exact opposite. True, the film may have been a series of fantastic special effect sequences linked together by a threadbare plot but in the videogames unfortunately, the plot and characters are good enough. The execution is frankly, very poor and not worthy of such an official license but how often have we experienced similar scenarios?

Graphically the game is standard fare, never really doing anything to harness the power of the hardware or capture the imagination of the player. Sucking the life from hapless victims as Imhotep is the highlight but the effect never changes throughout. All the characters in the game are faithful reproductions of those from the film however in cut scenes the effect is ruined by the lack of facial expressions or moving lips. The game uses Tomb Raider as a reference as you have to explore locations while figuring straightforward puzzles and fighting regenerating enemies. If there is one thing that can really annoy it’s the inclusion of regenerating enemies never mind with non-existent intelligence. Quite simply they are lining up to be hacked, punched, drained or vanquished to another dimension. Your companions as well as enemies will wander around aimlessly, often becoming stuck in walls or continue to run around in circles, somehow lost in a world of their own. As they regenerate as soon as you leave the room (and often chase after you) the game soon becomes a tedious button bashing of epic proportions. Help is on hand throughout from your supporting cast but more often than not, these prove to be a liability but at least you can take frustrations out on their lifeless bodies. Puzzles form the basis of most levels, reach a certain location, collect the item and return to where you came from. Repeat till end.

I would have hoped to experience at least a snippet of variety between the two different adventures, but sadly this is not the case. This is standard fare that we have all seen a million times before. Levels are nicely recreated from the film and the size is quadrupled thanks to the worst map feature ever. The on-screen icons will feature a traditional compass, totally useless for buildings that are on several levels. The compass also occurs on a map, which you can only view from one angle (zoomed in or out) making navigation far time consuming and annoying that it should have ever been. The bad design does not stop there as it continues to the control method, which is far from friendly. The triangle button will activate your weapon, which you can collect on every level and with several available it is an important feature. Yet, this button will also bring up your inventory therefore at times when you require a weapon, something else will happen causing loss of life. Controlling your character feels sluggish and not as responsive as you would have hoped for. Bad enough? I haven’t even mentioned the camera that at times needs constant correcting or becomes stuck in ceilings almost every time that you enter a new room.

In conclusion The Mummy Returns is a disappointment to anyone who plays the game whether it be a fan of the film or gamer. Only children may forgive its faults and enjoy the limited nature of it all.

Gamestyle Score: 3/10

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