The Mummy rises once again with The Mummy Online
It’s been a few years since The Mummy franchise has done anything worthwhile. There are some who would argue that hasn’t happened at all. I know Tomb of the Dragon Emperor definitely did not improve audience opinion. However, with Bigpoint.com’s release of the browser-based game The Mummy Online, it looks like there’s still some fun to be had with our favourite not-quite-Indiana-Jones saga, without any of your feelings about Brendan Fraser causing you any sort of inner-conflict.
In The Mummy Online, players are following adventurer Edward Morgan as he travels and digs his way across Egypt in an effort to cure his wife of a strange disease she contracted after discovering The Stone of Rancor. Players can choose to take one of two sides; they can either be treasure-hunting Raiders, or evil Cultists. As a Raider, you can choose from one of three (typical) classes: Gunslinger (ranged attacks), Brawler (melee attacks), or Scholar (magicians). The basic driving force behind the Raiders is the search for treasure, and are basically “the good guys.” If players prefer to be more of a jerk, then they can go with a Cultist instead, and choose to be either an Enforcer (ranged), Assassin (melee), or Priest (magician).
Once players have chosen their moral path, they are led into the initial Tutorial Level which is very succinct and direct in instructing players on the basic actions of the game. The controls are simple: pointing and left-clicking on the mouse sends a character in the direction you have chosen, and if something comes up that you have to kill, smash, or communicate with, point and left-click and the appropriate action will occur.
In the upper right of your screen are click-able symbols that will open up your Inventory, Journal, Settings, and Quit functions. While everything else is self-explanatory, the Journal is where players can review their current missions and jobs if they haven’t played in awhile, or got so sidetracked by killing or running away from Scarabs, Scorpions, or opposing faction members that they forgot what it was they were supposed to do in the first place.
The gameplay is easy enough to wrap your head around, although a mouse is highly recommended (as opposed to using the touchpad on your laptop…like I first did…very poorly). If there is a problem, it’s that one button controlling both action and movement can lead to some unfortunate incidents. When attempting to attack from afar, for instance, the player will sometimes runs up to its target and stands there as he or she gets pummeled.
There also doesn’t seem to be much difference when it comes to which side a player chooses. The missions are the same. The weapons are the same. The people to talk to are the same. While the developers went to the lengths of giving two distinct adversarial groups to choose from, there isn’t really much point in doing so.
The Mummy Online does have a definite aesthetic value. The graphics, when a player is not standing in the middle of the desert, are very colorful with a nice amount of detail. The music is quite cinematic, and the sound effects are very potent. The movements can be somewhat choppy, but due to the browser-based nature of the game, it’s forgivable.
The only thing that I didn’t enjoy to some degree about The Mummy Online was the Player vs. Player mode. The only way to enter this mode is through the World Map within the game, and not from the opening menu. Once entering combat, there isn’t much payoff as there aren’t any instructions given and players have to sort out for themselves what the goal of the game is. Turns out it’s a capture-the-quadrants type of deal, which might have been enjoyable if the Scarabs and Scorpions were left out of the equation. Having a human competitor trying to do you in was plenty enough trouble.
As with most browser-based games, there is an option to spend real money in order to boost your character, but it’s far from a necessity for playing the game, whether you play socially or not.
All-in-all, The Mummy Online has a lot going for it. The fact that it’s a free browser-based game is a feat in itself. When factoring in all of the good things that is displays, it ends up being not only a good bit of fun, but something that could lead to bigger and better things within the online gaming industry. Since it’s still in a beta format, we could still see a lot of improvements in the future which could lead to a much deeper gaming experience, but that doesn’t mean that The Mummy Online isn’t fun now: It most certainly is. And you don’t have to sit through two hours of poorly spent Hollywood millions to enjoy it.