SummarySo Jim Walls was also a submarine captain as well, eh?
The GoodIt was coming to the end of the Eighties, and with two Police Quests under his belt, Sierra employee Jim Walls decided to step away from the gritty world of Sonny Bonds to focus on the real-life duties of a Navy officer. The officer, in this case, is Commander John Westland, who gets interrupted by his superior while on vacation in Tahiti to take on a secret mission involving oil reserves in Tunisia and the possibility of the president being assassinated if the U.S. government doesn't comply with the terrorist's demands.
You start on a nice Tahitian beach and eventually have to chat up a babe who happens to be an agent that you'll rendezvous with later. During that time, it is nice that the game uses elements that is influenced by the Leisure Suit Larry games. You see Tahitian women walking along the beach, and looking at them gives you a LSL-style close up. Also, that dance scene is taken right out of the first game.
The majority of the game takes place in the submarine, the USS Blackhawk, where you have to sit at its controls and do things such as bringing down enemy ships, navigating around icebergs, and such. There are many ways that you can die when you finally get behind the controls of the submarine. I remember when I changed the heading and depth when the hatch is still open. More points are awarded for correct procedure. Time is crucial, and if you don't do all the things by the time the game is ready to move on, then you will become stranded or killed.
The graphics are adequate for the time, and the submarine is laid out nicely. (I haven't been inside a real sub, so I'm guessing the layout is based on a real one.) One thing I really like about this game is watching the Russian destroyer on the horizon during a beautiful sunset.
Since around 1988, sound card support was introduced in most of Sierra's game. When it comes to Code-Name: Iceman, Adlib sound is okay, but quite poor compared to what the MT-32 was capable of. With the device, you can hear additional sound effects other sound cards aren't able to produce such as the waves at the resort, and the submarine's sonar just sounds real. Music is also enhanced. I quite enjoyed listening to the music when you arrive at Dulles Airport, as well as what you hear at The Pentagon.
Copy Protection plays a key role as far as Iceman is concerned, and anyone who tries to play the game without reading the manual will have trouble. You have to perform CPR on a girl very early in the game by reading the correct procedure outlined in the manual, but the major thing is decoding secret messages, which is so complex that you have to refer to a code book you pick up early on. It' great that if you happen to decode them incorrectly, you will get a parody of Little Miss Muffet or Little Boy Blue.
The only puzzles are figuring out what each object does and how to use them. The game uses the mouse for moving your character around the screen, and the keyboard to enter commands at the parser. Unlike most of Sierra games, you need to be specific in what you type.
The BadI found the first of the submarine battles too difficult, and the battles are a hit-and-miss basis. There is no way you can avoid missing your target, except to keep doing a S&R (save and restore) procedure and hope that you can hit it. There is no way you can avoid the torpedoes the enemy launches, except to use decoys (and even they can miss). Before the sub battles is a game of Boss Dice you are forced to play. Waste of time.
The Bottom LineSo, what audience would Code-Name: Ice-Man appeal to? Well, it appeals to anyone who enjoys James Bond movies, since both the game and the movies share similar elements. It is also for anyone who has a lot of skill and patience. Anyone else, like me, should steer well clear of it. If it was not for the sub battles, I would have completed this by now. Thank god there wasn't another Navy Quest.