It's easy to see why Universal's multimillion dollar blockbuster film from last year would be made into a game for the PlayStation. Its high adventure premise, exotic locale, larger than life hero, gruesome villains, elaborate special effects, and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor are fertile ground for the cultivation of a game translation. It's true that the same can be said for most movie-to-game conversions, but nearly all of them end up dying a hideous death somewhere in the process. The Mummy almost escapes this fate, as it fares better than most, but it still doesn't manage to leave a pretty corpse.
In it, you play as Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser's role in the film), a Foreign Legionnaire who's stumbled onto Hamunaptra, the fabled lost Egyptian city of the dead. While exploring the hidden pyramids and hunting for treasure, O'Connell and his companions (an Egyptologist and her brother) accidentally awaken Imhotep, a fallen priest who was cursed and mummified alive thousands of years before. Now you must stop Imhotep and send him back to his rest before the world falls prey to his evil machinations.
The Mummy is a third-person action game that uses devices found in many other licensed games, though often with better results. Though Rick can be found jumping and climbing from time to time, the focus of the game is much more on action. Your character has a variety of weapons to fight enemies with - such as his fists, a machete, dual pistols, a shotgun, a Lewis machine gun, dynamite, and magical amulets (a kind of mystical grenade) - and he'll need them if he's going to fend off the horde of mummies Imhotep sends your way.
To beat a level, you must gather together six pieces of a star key. To acquire a piece, you must finish off a miniquest such as solving a trap-laden puzzle, beating a certain number of enemies, or evading a swarm of locusts. This means that each level is quite long and that making it all the way through using only one life is rare. While there are no midlevel saves, there are many checkpoints within each level.
The combat in The Mummy is uncomplicated, but it's not overly simplistic. Your weapons lock onto the closest foe until they're dispatched or until another gets closer to you. Most mummies can be destroyed by either a few shots from a firearm or a few hacks of a machete, while dynamite and amulets will clear a room even faster.
While it's relatively easy to barrel ahead and finish each level, there are many secret areas to explore and treasures to collect in The Mummy. Those willing to hunt down all of the hidden spots and items are rewarded with unlockable extras, which add a lot to the game's replay value. Unfortunately, you often have to access these areas by jumping from platform to platform over quicksand or lava, something that's far more difficult than it should be because of The Mummy's camera and control. Neither aspect is too problematic during the normal parts of game, but both are frustrating enough in the platform jumping segments that you'll likely put off exploring for later.
The game's dark and claustrophobic environments are acceptable given its setting, although they're not likely to impress you, and the game's suspect collision detection will often cause you to stick to parts of them. Likewise, the character models look nice enough, but their animations are often predictable or even robotic. Meanwhile, the game's soundtrack uses the score from the film and peaks with the action, though its transitions are very abrupt. The character voices are often taken directly from the film, except for the voice of O'Connell, who sounds like an Englishman doing his best impression of a square-jawed American hero.
The roughest spots in The Mummy are the areas in which it tries to break up the action by introducing different gameplay elements. In one of these areas, you find yourself floating on a log on the Nile, jumping over or ducking under different obstacles. Since the draw-in distance is very limited, you often need to start a jump before an object actually appears in order to clear it entirely, which will cause you to go through a few lives rather quickly. In another spot, you jump over rolling pillars and avoid raging flames in a side-scrolling perspective similar to Pitfall 3D's. This area is so unnecessarily hard that the developers provide more than four extra lives along the way, a quick fix that doesn't remedy the fact that the level should've been more entertaining to play and less difficult. The placement of these different elements in the game is admirable, but their execution is extremely flawed. If it weren't for these segments, The Mummy could have been either a good rental or a great gift for a younger brother, but they drag down what is otherwise an oftentimes surprisingly playable game.