Written by  :  vni VIC (23)
Written on  :  Apr 11, 2002
Platform  :  DOS

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Codename: ICEMAN is a foray into techno-thriller fiction by Jim Walls.

The Good

Codename: ICEMAN ("CI" hereon) follows the Police Quest style of mixing reality with interactive adventure fiction. Instead of following police protocol, CI requires the player to follow some basic military protocol and procedures. Fortunately, most of that information is outlined in the manual, allowing you to work your way through the different scenarios with some study.

There are three main segments in this game. The first is the vacation in Tahiti, where you will begin. There, it opens up as an ordinary Sierra adventure, with above average 16 color graphics and a quick simulation puzzle (using the manual) that provides a glimpse of things to come. Later, you will board and command a nuclear submarine. You will spend the majority of the game playing this section, which adds a lot of simulation to the adventure. Finally, you will leave the submarine for the brief conclusion.

The interface to CI is a text parser, and it is a smart one. Most of what you will consider typing is handled by the parser, and when it is not, it usually indicates what words aren't working. Additionally, the mouse can be used a little bit. The puzzles usually make sense, and overall the gameplay is good, albeit difficult at times.

The Bad

In my opinion, the plot of CI is uninteresting. It is getting through the plot that provides entertainment, but many people will be turned off by the difficulty of the journey. Why? Instead of the typical "You wake up and are suffering from amnesia" plot, your character is a Commander in the Navy, and the game expects you to play along with that! You will be referring to the manual and the submarine chart for help, along with common sense. If you make the slightest mistake, it's Game Over -- or worse, you could become trapped and unable to complete the game.

For example, the submarine simulation has a very steep learning curve at the beginning. Any significant mistakes or deviations from procedure will immediately result in failure; if you don't like saving and restoring, this game may not be for you. Fortunately, once you have mastered the simulation, you will realize that it is actually oversimplified and you won't have so much trouble later on.

Other criticisms: You will need the manual and the chart that came with this game in order to play. The music is not memorable. The endgame is thin.

(note: An early review for this title on mobygames indicated a play time of only two hours. This is entirely inaccurate unless you are using a walkthrough or hint book)

The Bottom Line

Codename: ICEMAN is probably not an adventure game for beginners or those who give up easily; it would not be fun to play if you had to cheat or constantly read hints. For the more seasoned adventurer or for those who are interested in the military or techno-thriller fiction, solving the puzzles and finishing this game could be a rewarding, enlightening experience. Flipping through the manual might help someone decide whether or not to play. Keep in mind, this type of game is not for everyone.