Written by Jim Walls, Codename: ICEMAN was to be the first game in a new adventure game series by Sierra. A sequel was never released, although it was mentioned in Sierra's news magazine. You control Navy officer Johnny Westland, as he takes on a secret mission dealing with the oil reserves in Tunisia. The game is a traditional adventure, with interesting James Bond-esque spy elements. A large portion of the game is also played in a (perhaps overly complex for some players) submarine simulator.
The next time you feel like playing an adventure game that requires a decent amount of reasoning and even a little research give Codename: ICEMAN a try. This game has a little bit of everything in it. The beginning of the game will remind you of Leisure Suit Larry as you go beach combing and do your best to pick up babes at the local pub. Things will get serious in a hurry after that, however, as you are called to duty to rescue a kidnapped US Ambassador and to uncover the perpetrators and plot behind the kidnapping. You will navigate a submarine through hostile waters where stealth is mandatory to the success of the mission. Then you will go under cover James Bond style to locate the ambassador and bring him back to safety. Beautiful women, danger, high tech gadgets; Codename: ICEMAN has them all.
The game plays just like all the other Sierra games of it's time (King's Quest, Leisure Suit Larry etc). You type the commands for your character and then the game tells you that it doesn't understand what you are saying. Just kidding ... kind of. If you have never played an early Sierra game it might take a little getting used to but surely everyone has played one of these games by now, right? The game keeps score as you progress so that the accomplishment is not just in finishing the game but in scoring as highly as possible. I know it all sounds and looks very familiar to most of you. What sets Iceman apart from the other Sierra games of the time are the level of detail and the complexity of the plot and the actual maneuvers that you must accomplish to succeed. This is no fairy tale mother goose adventure. You will have to put a lot of thought into each move that you make. Trial and error, death and dying are Sierra game trademarks and they apply here as well. It can be frustrating. The frustrations are magnified in Iceman, however, because of the fact that the margin for error is very small. You will understand when you play the game.
Codename: ICEMAN was designed by Jim Walls who is the same guy that created Sierra's Police Quest series. Wall's trademark is attention to detail and realism. To play Iceman you will have to acquaint yourself with a little US Navy protocol. Not to worry, however, everything you need to learn is spelled out in the game manual (available as download). The game will also call upon your understanding of some basic scientific principles and geography. I have to admit that I actually learned while playing this game.
The background sounds are adequate and the graphics are pretty good for the time. The game's puzzles (if you want to call them that) are in figuring out what objects do and when to use them. You will need to be able to identify trouble before it happens and you must proceed through the game with at least a little expediency as time is of the essence in your mission. Save a lot and keep many saved games because you may have to backtrack quite a bit. The one BIG flaw in Iceman is that you can actually get to a point in the game only to find out that you didn't do or get something you needed to in order to proceed and you have absolutely no way of getting back to the place you need to in order obtain the object. ARRGH! If you keep a saved game after each major accomplishment in the game you will at least have a place from which to resume if and when this happens to you. It probably will.
Iceman is a good but not great game. I have read other reviews of this game that criticize its difficulty. No doubt, it is not an easy adventure. Not for the beginner. The games difficulty level is at least partly a result of the attention to detail and the lack of obvious clues as to what has to happen next and what different items are used for. The game sets it own pace and you have to be able to keep up. If you haven't made the proper moves or discoveries by the time the game is ready to move on you may get stranded or killed. To some people these game characteristics would be considered strengths not weaknesses. If you have patience and love a tougher than average adventure, Codename: ICEMAN will be worth your time.
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