The Mummy is one of those franchises where you just go “this would make such a good game” and then when you delve into the lore a bit deeper you can't help proclaiming “this would make such a good MMO”. The 1999 movie tells a desert tale of the ancient Magi sect as they try to stop the evil Cultists from restoring their linen clad master to his former glory, the titular Mummy. Rick O'Connell stands in the middle of this age old struggle and we follow his adventures as he tries to stay alive.
It is a rich story which could easily lend itself to discovering your own tale and grafting it into this rich world. However when something even remotely resembling this fails to materialise, that's when you get the first indication that The Mummy Online is not going to live up to the game that you have pictured in your mind. Unfortunately it quickly becomes bogged down in quicksand in nearly every department.
I start with one of the games few good points: it is very pretty. You can feel the sand between your sandals and get immense satisfaction from breaking ancient statues. Running on the Unity engine, for a browser game it really isn't half bad. A solid frame rate ticks by and even though the monster types will swarm you with how often they reappear, at least they look good doing it.
The menus are well realised in the ancient Egyptian aesthetic but whether it's a function of the engine or a design decision, when entering shops or looking at quest logs you lose half your screen to a large black bar. This is the only real quibble about the graphics that I can muster as on the whole they do the job admirably.
Not only are the graphics nice but the entire thing feels well-wrought. From the music to the statues buried half-way in the sand, everything is geared towards immersing you into these arid wastes, making you already invested in any story that might come along. Unfortunately despite the description you will find on the website setting up what should be an engaging story you end up wishing that Rick O'Connell himself will show up to lead you to the promised land of narrative.
A constant annoyance are the reminders that you can buy the 'special' packs made just for that area at a low-low cost just for you whenever you enter a new area. I have nothing against a business trying to turn a few dollars but it is the way in which that it is implemented where I take umbrage. Rather than use the micro-transaction currency these packs must be bought at a further cost paid for in direct cash this time around. The game does not stop during this process either so you can find yourself squished quite quickly if you are not in a safe area when deciding to treat your self.
The gameplay of The Mummy Online is a kin to picking at a scab. You don't really get much from it and you know it is not good for you, yet you still you end up repeating the same action over and over again because there is something there that is oddly addicting.
During character creation you get to choose which faction you would like to join, the Cultists or the Raiders. The differences stop there as the character classes mirror each other allowing you to pick either to be a mage, a ranged or melee orientated character. However, whatever you pick does not have all that much bearing on how you play the game with any differences between the two being purely cosmetic.
Both factions get to trek across exactly the same deserts but only get to bump into each other in PvP. Each zone is comprised of wide open areas with a decent selection of monster types but more often than not these are simply upgraded versions of the mobs you found in the previous area. Where the game shines a little brighter is in the dungeon content. Each zone has a smattering of Tombs that you must unlock by grinding on the various critters around the entrance.
Inside the Tombs you will not find much in the way of variety, and more often than not will face the same things that you have just been grinding on outside, until you reach the end where monster types do vary a little more. Each Tomb is split into sections separated by “Essence Gates” which are locked until you have killed enough of the creatures in that area. It is a race against the clock to complete the Tomb as you only have 20 minutes to get to the end. Spattered throughout these complexes is the occasional treasure chest offering minor rewards for your hard work. At the end of the skeleton strewn road lies one final chest with tiered loot. Anyone can get level 1 gear, level 2 requires you to pay with micro-transaction currency 'Rubies', and you can get the top tier by using the trinkets that you can pick up as a rare drop.
PvP takes the form of standard conquest but here you find on one of the major negatives of the game. No one is playing it. The desert lives up to the images it evokes and you walk those sandy seas alone. On the rare occasion you bump into a fellow human the encounter is fleeting and leaves you with the impression that it may have just been a mirage. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in PvP. Despite entering every time I loaded the game and waiting upwards of an hour to try and test this part of the game, never did I see another soul. If you wanted to live out the raider fighting for the greater good against the cursed cultists then you might want to pop over to Egypt and see if anyone is up for some role-play as you might stand a better chance. You will not find much variety in your quest log with fetch quests being the primary missions you are likely to happen upon. Barely sewn together with a rare goal or reason behind your hard work you will be finding scorpion tails for a soup or killing NPC versions of the opposing faction just for the sake of it.
One welcome addition is the ability to earn the games micro-transaction currency through the ordinary course of play. Every time you slay a monster or break a crate there is a chance of them dropping a couple of rubies to buy premium items with. This is practically essential as the whole game is tweaked towards using the store. From the difficulty of the monsters to the rate at which they re-spawn to swarm you. If you do not pay out for an experience speed pack or some better gear, you better be ready for a snails pace of progression and I hope you find the re-spawn screen pretty.
The game is relatively bug free with only a few minor hiccups to trip you up. If you take it at face value you may be lead into a false sense of security when you discover how cheap it can be under the surface. The quests are text only with no voice work to help you along, but this could be overlooked if it was not for the NPCs giving them are all bland, uninteresting and lacking in character. An attempt at levity is made by having a cavalcade of identical brothers scattered throughout the desert based on Beni Gabor from The Mummy.
This copy-paste job is indicative of the majority of the game. Once you start to look you realise that many of the assets have been reused, most likely as a cost effective solution, but it does naught but cheapen the feel of the game to the point where you start to wonder just how did the Egyptians have such a vast civilization when they appear to have had just one guy making their Temples.
You ever pop bubble wrap? You pick it up and just keep going for reasons you never quite understand, quickly making it completely ineffective as packing material. That is this game in a nutshell. You might get a couple of hours of enjoyment out of it, you might even enjoy those hours, but don't go into the game expecting it to be your new time sink.
If you are willing to pay you will certainly be able to stretch the experience out further but with the flawed mechanics you are not going to derive much more enjoyment from the experience. That said, there are a decent number of areas to explore, each with their own Tombs to find and quests to fetch that will keep you involved if you are willing to stick with the slog that makes up the majority of the game.
I once visited a haunted house. Not at a fun fair but an actual castle that was purported to be full of ghosts. As I walked through those empty corridors, with a chill wind on my arms, and no one around for miles, I felt more social than I did playing The Mummy Online.
It is not that it is lacking in social features, there is a chat window that I presume works but my attempts at conversation were met with a stony silence and even the natural spammers that we all know and love did not even pop in to say hello.
A feature that I cannot quite decide on is that up in the left hand side of your screen one of the other people currently near you will appear to promote grouping. However as most requests have tended to go ignored the use of the feature can be redundant and takes up screen real estate.
The store comes in two flavours, direct payments and micro-transactions. The amount of potions you get when paying direct is much more than you get by paying with micro-transactions. However micro-transactions are required to buy the more powerful weapons and armour. You can also using the Rubies to exchange for the in-game currency if you are a bit short trying to buy your next skill.
Paying for one of the EXP packs or a potion pack will make your journey through the desert much easier and possibly more enjoyable. The lack of real content will make any advancement you achieve through the limited structure of the game feel stunted through its brevity. Taken straight up, the value for money you get is decent but as the value of the game as a whole is lacking then your mileage may vary.
The Mummy Online is mediocre in practically every way. From the gameplay to the story there is very little that is going to hold your interest. If you are a fan of the franchise then you will be disappointed by how little reference is made to it and if you are simply an MMO fan then there are certainly better games out there. The graphics are nice but this comes at the cost of being processor intensive. For a browser based game it will certainly give your system a light work out. You can see this in the long loading times that punctuate moving from area to area and last just long enough to completely remove you from whatever immersion that you had managed to gain. I cannot bring myself to recommend The Mummy Online but I would not warn someone away from it either. There is untapped potential there that could be shaped into decent package if only it got the care the franchise deserves and the story that was promised actually materialised.