Description official description
In the beginning of the 21st century, Earth is experiencing a global oil shortage. Surprisingly, Tunisia remains one of the few countries still in possession of large quantities of high-quality oil. USA and Soviet governments race each other in their attempts to purchase as much oil as possible. Finally, the Soviets take a step further and kidnap the US ambassador, hoping to provoke an international incident. Naval Officer Johnny Westland is sent to Tunisia with the order of rescuing the ambassador and preventing further escalation of the conflict.
Code-Name: Iceman is primarily an adventure game similar to Sierra's other works in that genre. The player navigates the protagonist in eight different directions from third-person view, and types text commands to interact with the environment. The command "Look" may be typed separately and lead to different text descriptions depending on where on screen the protagonist is positioned. The game is similar to Police Quest series in that it relies on realistic procedures, in this case military instructions, first aid, etc. The player may reach dead ends and resort to restoring an earlier save if some of these procedures are not followed properly. In addition, a considerable portion of the game consists of submarine simulation, requiring the player to navigate a submarine and fight enemy craft.
Credits (DOS version)
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Average score: 66% (based on 20 ratings)
Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 61 ratings with 9 reviews)
The idea of mixing a basically pure adventure game with arcade sequences is nothing new. The addition of a simulator is already something novel and interesting. I have to admit it, while I also state that I always disliked simulator games and that steering the submarine in "Codename: Iceman" did nothing to change my mind - I didn't like these sequences, but I appreciate the idea. As for the types of puzzles, there is also lots of variety - everything from flirting with a girl (who soon turns out to be an agent too), through repairing machines, decoding messages (it's hard to figure out exactly how it works and the system involves copy protection, but after some time it actually got quite fun) to finding and freeing the hostage.
I liked the graphics, but I generally like good-quality EGA graphics, sometimes even better than duller VGA graphics and definitely much more than 95% of 3D graphics. A modest palette of juicy colors with clever use of shading works fine in different settings from a tropical island to sub machinery.
However, despite these advantages the game also has two big flaws: a very high difficulty level and crazily excessive use of copy protection measures. In "The Colonel's Bequest" it was enough to find the correct fingerprint in the manual and while this wasn't integrated into gameplay at all, at least you didn't have to worry about copy protection afterwards. In "Codename: Iceman" copy protection is employed several times: first you have to check out the first aid procedure and basically retype it in the game (luckily it's a SCI game which pauses when you type), then use the manual to look up passwords for decoding messages (three times!) and check out how to turn on some devices such as the sonar. Plus, it's better to familiarize oneself with the rules of the "Boss Dice" game in order to make sense of it.
After about 1/3 of the game has passed, terribly hard sequences pretty much bang you on the head one after another. Boss Dice is a game of luck and you can only restore it twice (at least there is another, albeit more complicated, solution to the puzzles which involve the objects won: a bottle of rum and a magnetic device). The two battles are also very hard and luck-based. Later you have to follow another ship to get into the Mediterranean safely - getting and staying under her is hard, but first signalling her correctly is enough of a pain. In the coded message you are told to signal the ship with a single "ping", but when using the sonar you get two kinds of little sounds: a "click" when turning the sonar on and off and a small "beep" later. How am I supposed to know beforehand that yes, I have to turn the sonar on and immediately off, without waiting for the "beep"? It's easy to think it's the "ping" you have to signal... At the end there is another action sequence that you luckily can bypass: escape from the terrorists. What I found really annoying is that the game reacted very slowly to everything I pressed - timing it right is next to impossible. You have to speed up to be able to escape, but the van actually reacts only when you already ahould be slowing down before another curve...
The simulator sequences may actually be harder for modern players than they were when the game was made - at least on laptops, which don't have a separate numeric keypad. It involved constantly turning Num Lock on and off - "on" to speed up (numeric "+"), "off" to be able to type things like "close hatch" or "depth attained", "on" again to adjust speed...
At the end yet another detail - saying "I didn't like it" would be nitpicking, I'd rather describe it as a funny lack of realism. Some cabins on the sub look like hotel rooms. Well, I've never been aboard a submarine, but from what I've read it seems pretty clear submarines don't look like this. The pressure they have to withstand is so immense they must have as little surface as possible. Often they don't even have beds for all the crew - one shift is sleeping while the other works. Again - I wouldn't say it's really a disadvantage - the rooms look nice enough (even though the "hotel"-like cabins are actually rather boring, some other screens like the machine room or weapon room are much better), but it's a bit curious in a game so much acclaimed for its realism.
The Bottom Line
Anyway, I would say the game is worth trying out. Despite its flaws it remains interesting. But be prepared for a hard and frustrating game. Myself - I'm happy to keep a screenshot collection in my emulator, but I doubt if I'll ever play the whole game again.
DOS · by Nowhere Girl (8679) · 2012
This game had good music, and a fair plot, and for the time, the graphics were good. I'm not saying I liked this game, but there's no WAY anyone could finish this game, short as it is, in 2 hours. Not the first time anyway.
This game WAS too short, I'll give you that, and the puzzles, were kinda iffy. While playing it, I began to wish it would end, and several times I almost fell asleep at the computer. Also, I don't see how any 10 year old could score full points in this game without a walk-through. The instance when you board the submarine alone would have stumped me when I was ten.
The Bottom Line
Don't bother playing it, stick to Space Quest, or Kings Quest. it gets quite dull, and it really isn't worth peeking at.
DOS · by C W (5) · 2000
Well as the summary hints at this game started out great. When this game came out my brother was a 30 year old Army officer (and gamer) that had this new exciting game. However he could never beat it. So I the younger brother (15) gave it a shot. I loved the opening and though that the sound was good. I liked the grapics and the gameplay. But the best part of this game had to be the plot. It had so much potiental I could hardly wait to find out what happend next.
.... And then I got to the sub part of the game. On the way to the sub I had a hard time and resorted to my usual tatic when I cant figure out something... I cheated. I bought the hint book and after much effort got in the sub. But once in the sub not even the hint book could save me. I very very rarely not finish a game. For me it is more important to finish than to stay true to the gaming experience. But in this game I could never ever get that sub working. To this day this game sits on my hard drive. (Now 3 computers later) I dont remember all the problems it had but I do remember the game getting worse and worse as it went on.
The Bottom Line
First of all no offence to the first reviewer but I wonder if they have the right game. I can not immagine it only took 2 hours to beat this game. I cant say that I would recommend this game but for the die-hards and can-do gamers here is a good challenge.
DOS · by William Shawn McDonie (1130) · 2000
A sequel was mentioned as forthcoming in Sierra's news magazine, but it was never released.
Information also contributed by Giygas 8
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Game added by Eurythmic.
Game added November 15th, 1999. Last modified August 21st, 2023.