Code-Name: Iceman

Publisher: Sierra
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #66

Code-Name: Iceman

It is the year 2000 and the Earth's so-called superpowers are still arguing about oil and carrying out Cold War tactics with each other. Espionage is rife and a 'situation' could occur at any time.

Described as a techno thriller, Codename: Iceman places you in the role of Lt Commander Johnny B Westland and begins on an island (unfortunately not Nontoonyt) in Tahiti where Westland is taking a well-earned vacation.

While sitting on the beach a quick shufty at the newspaper on the table next to you gives an inkling of what's going on in the world. Tunisia is in a powerful position due to an oil shortage. The USA and USSR are in a tug of war as they negotiate for Tunisia's oil. "Could be a serious situation," you think to yourself... gosh, you can see why you're a Lt Commander.

Codename Iceman

As you lounge there taking in some rays, scantily-clad, good-looking girls constantly parade up and down the beach. Unfortunately, after trying to 'interact' with them, one soon realises this is *not* a Leisure Suit Larry game... er, so I'm told.

When bored with lying in the sun, take a look at the beach to your left and join in the game of volleyball. You get points for every ball you volley... but you're not even in control of Westland, the computer does all the work - very odd! Eventually, the ball goes into the sea (guess who mis-volleyed) and the girl with whom you're playing goes in after it. She gets into trouble and you dive in to save her. You then have to go through the life-saving procedure detailed in the game manual. All very boring and the only reason for it, as far as I can tell, is an an anti-piracy device. You have to get the procedure right to get past this point in the game.

Anyway, back to the hotel and into the bar. Having a drink or two kills you! Very logical. But one woman there is quite willing to dance with you, whereupon the scene shifts to the dance floor, complete with two large characterisations of you and the girl strutting your funky stuff (Do people still say that?). This bit's quite funny... for a while.

Codename Iceman

The plot slowly unfolds and eventually you get to know exactly what it is you're supposed to do in the game. Piloting a nuclear sub 'using state-of-the-art simulation technology' is one the delights you have to look forward to.

Iceman features a 'new and improved playing system' whereby our hero basically does more work than in previous Sierra releasea: inputting 'Look at (object)' results in Westland turning to race the object to look at it. And there's none of this 'You're not close enough' rubbish: input 'Take (object)', for example, and Westland walks over to the desired item (usually) to pick it up. This is all very nice but it really slows play down, something Sierra can hardly afford to do.

This new system definitely affects game speed: just walking across the beach takes an unnecessarily long time just because the sea is animated (I use the term 'animated' very loosely!). I actually became impatient with the incredibly slow pace of play and constant disk access. Usually Sierra's plots combined with their interesting gameplay make up for long waits... but not this time. A lot of the game is subaqua and also sub-standard.

The ultimate goal of Iceman, according to auther Jim Walls, is to 'read like a newspaper'... pity it had to be the Ludlow Advertiser.