The colder war

Codename Iceman logo

AHH! Tahiti, the cool winds, golden sand and the beautiful aqua. What a way to take a holiday, just lying on the sun-drenched sand, soaking up the glorious rays of the daystar. Wow! Ah! This is the life, I think I will have a swim.

What is this magazine? Hmmm, the oil crisis worsens with a war imminent. US and Russian military build-up as the dispute heats up. The US ambassador has been kidnapped - if the terrorists' demands are not met they will shoot him through the head and leave his body on the steps of the US embassy.

A message from General Braxton awaits you in the reception room of the holiday village on the edge of the island. You are summoned to Washington immediately where you will be briefed and dispatched with one objective. Severely inconvenience the US ambassador's captives and bring him back - alive! The operation, code name Iceman, must be handled with the greatest care lest it ends all disastrously.

This is a bit of a breakaway from the standard Sierra adventure. Although the game begins with the usual play-style of Sierra, it soon changes to a bit of a simulation as you enter a sophisticated submarine to gain access to the terrorists.

But first you must find your way about Tahiti. After falling off my stool in a blind drunken stupor after buying this pretty girl a few drinks I realised that this was not Leisure Suit Larry I was playing here and restarted.

Although the graphics are not exactly what you would expect from an Amiga, they are reasonable and very colourful. The tropical music that drifts across the island and the more rock style that is at home in the bar is very good and you can hear different instrumental sounds.
The beginning became quite tedious for me. I found myself wasting a vast amount of time strolling across three or four screens time after time.

Although Code-Name: Iceman requires at least 1Mb of RAM, the software does not keep many screens in memory, and constant disk accessing slows things down quite dramatically. In fact I got very bored waiting for the scenery to change all the time. Many of the computer's responses take quite a while to appear, too.

There are few new additions to the Sierra gameplay method. Previously, if you wanted to look at a particular thing, you would have to walk to it first then type the command. Now in many cases you can simply look at an object from a distance, else your character will walk towards it. Many doors will now open for you when you approach them to avoid having to type "open door" - a great improvement, I am sure you will agree. As usual the packaging contains all the documentation necessary to enable you to navigate your way about the game. An (apparently) authentic submarine navigation chart of the Western Hemisphere accompanies the game and proves invaluable when you get to your single seater USS Black Hawk submarine.
Equipped with eight harpoon radar seeking missiles, torpedoes and sea mines, this underwater military vessel carries up-to-minute technology.

Iceman really should be played from a hard disk, but with five floppies in the package, it is going to swallow a large portion of your A590! Still, if you are prepared to wait for the game to access itself, I believe it is worth it.

Codename Iceman logo

SIERRA ON-LINE £34.99 * Mouse

Spies like us enjoy the occasional break. Nothing is nicer than sitting on the beach of some sunwashed isle sipping Mai Tais with the ladyfolk. So Commander Westland, the eponymous Iceman, is more than miffed to have his holidays spoiled by a breakdown in détente, critical hostage situation and threatened nuclear war. Things that only the Iceman can sort out, naturally.

This latest offering from the American adventure specialists is a tale of international intrigue beside, on and under the high seas. Westland is a CIA spook and his actions are the focus for the operation bearing the codename Iceman. The job involves the wandering and collecting that is standard fare for Sierra adventures with the added bonus of a submarine sim.

The story begins with the secret agent man relaxing on said tropical isle, where he must uncover the background plot from newspapers, phone calls and a particularly forward young lady who insists on calling him 'big boy'. After gathering such vital life-saving kit as an ID card and flowery shirt, it is off to Pearl Harbour, via the Pentagon.

After a lot of saluting he takes control of USS Blackhawk and the real game begins, mixing simulation with more traditional adventure modes. The sub is controlled via key commands or mouse clicks on screen, as the Iceman tries to guide his baby around the oceans, sorting out the evil terrorists and cooling the cold war down.

With mouse commands for movement and text to communicate, the game exhibits a high degree of interaction between Westland and the people he stumbles across. It is flexible, but there is only one solution and many pitfalls along the way. Get drunk and the world goes up in smoke while he is giving it the Technicolor yawn. Forget to check that he has the right documentation and he will never set foot aboard the Blackhawk.


Pace is not something that the Iceman exudes, shuffling about the walking scenes even in high speed mode. The piccies are cute though, with some neat pre-set animation sequences; Westland staggering around whacked out of his brain on cocktails, for example. The sub itself comes with the standard 'in the cockpit' view and looks complicated, but it is reasonably easy to drive around the ocean. It is flexible and clear enough to keep adventurers happy, even if true simulator freaks would find it lacking.

The humour that pervades the game is also present in the music, which opens with a Formby-esque ukulele solo to set the scene in Tahiti. In-game, though, sound is sadly limited to the occasional intermittent spot effect and yet more mood music to introduce new scenes.


Packed onto five disks - not one, or three, but five - Iceman instantly looks the kind of game that should have you slaving away for months. But this is due more to the aeons spent accessing disks rather than the vast complexity of the game. It is deviously designed, fair enough, but all the intrigue is destroyed by the game's sluggishness. Even the rolling score at the top of the screen fails to inspire, because points are awarded for seemingly 'pointless' tasks such as playing volleyball and saluting the flag. Never mind saving the planet: protocol and etiquette, it appears, come first.


Codename Iceman is a variation on a theme for Sierra who stray outside their traditional preserve with the introduction of the submarine simulator. Fans of painstaking detective adventures (and, of course, disk manufacturers) will love it. Yet there is so much disk swapping, fiddly hero manoeuvring and acres of time spent loading that even saints would curse at the frustration of it. A first-class adventure in design, Codename Iceman is eventually crushed by its five-disk size and snail biting speed.

Codename Iceman logo

With a global shortage of oil, the USSR and USA are ina tug of war over oil negotiations with Tunisia. And while Commander John B. Westland of the US Navy is sunning himself on a beach in Tahiti, the US Ambassador to the Middle East is taken hostage by a Russian-supported group of terrorists and held to ransom for $10M. General Braxton, irate that Westland is on vacation, says 'jump', summoning him back for a mission briefing. So fast have world events moved recently that this scenario can almost be classified as historical (computer) fiction. It is hard luck on Sierra that it was intended to be an up-to-the-minute 'techno thriller', but these days the Russians and US are on the same side. Still, they got it right about the Middle East.

Iceman was written by Jim Wallace, creator of the Police Quest series, and has a similar pedantic approach that tends to make the game very routine and dull. First we have to go through the motions down on the beach - read a magazine to hear about the situation, buy a newspaper to get an update, travel to three or four sluggish locations to get cash and then all the way back to spend it on the newspaper and so on. Throughout this a number of attractive girls in beach wear pass by, but absolutely ignore anything Westland says or does. A case of CO BO, or is he just a wimp?

Bursting with enthusiasm to get back to duty, I found the General's phone number and tried ringing him on numerous occasions, only to find him not at home. No progress could be made until I had laboriously gone through playing a ball game on the beach, saved the life of a drowning girl by rigidly sticking to a set of technical phrases listed in the manual, and finally collecting a message that Braxton wanted me to phone. This game is so packed with inaction that its rather catchy music can easily send you to sleep.

Among the flaws in the program logic is a little affair with a briefcase. It contains detailed mission instructions and is opened at a critical point in the game. But when examined it declares itself to be empty, hinting at a secret compartment in the lid. Do you take notice of the text and try, unsuccessfully (for the moment) to work on the lid, or heed the graphic that clearly shows something visible in the main part of the case? Trouble is, if the latter, how do you phrase GET <object> when you do not know what the object is, and there are no encouraging hints built into the replies? I will tell you for nothing - GET ENVELOPE. It took me two hours to work my way through this little piece of techno-programming.

This game takes the Sierra system into new ground, with a submarine navigation that is quite fun, plus a few frills tacked on to the conventional action screens. You now get a character that walks diagonally when his route is angled, and automatically walks to an object from most parts of the screen when he has been told to GET or EXAMINE it. Unfortunately, he sometimes takes the scenic route to get there. You also get a fine-tuned LOOK, which describes the nearest examinable object, making it frustrating when you want a wider view of the scene.

In the days when a good adventure was a logically constructed interactive story told mainly in text, this highly structured piece of unreality, stripped of its high-tech graphics and sound, would have been laughed out of the shops at a fiver a time. Tarted up as with much of the common sense removed, you are welcome to pay the profit-guzzling thirty-five quid asked. I know I wouldn't.

Codename Iceman logo

Sierra/£39.99/Out Now

Amiga reviewPaul: It always seems to be the same with Sierra games. I read the scenario and it sounds great. Then I see the number of disks and feel alarmed. Finally I play the game and feel more than a little bored. After a truly dire opening screen Codename Iceman places our hero on a Bahaman beach looking for his mission. (And, being an Iceman, presumably standing out like a sore thumb).

The game starts like a substandard Leisure Suit Larry complete with lovely girls at lonely tables. The later stages might be less familiar to Sierra fans, since it includes something of a 'sim' element as our hero submarines to the danger zone.

Apart from this difference, which I found a welcome relief, the game is standard Sierra fair. The puzzles are challenging and sometimes interesting. But the control system, despite a few refinements, is of the "type a sentence and hope the computer understands it" mode. The graphics are the usual port from the PC although Sierra are soon to start programming specifically for the Amiga and ST. Unfortunately, Codename Iceman has the sort of graphics that could get the Amiga a bad name.

Codename Iceman logo

Sierra On-Line, Amiga £39.99

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 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 Notoonyt) 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.

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 realizes 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 as 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 characterizations of you and the girl strutting your funky stuff (do people still say that?). This bit's quite funny... for a while.

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 of the delights you have to look forward too.

Iceman features a 'new and improved playing system' whereby our hero basically does more work than in previous Sierra releases: inputting 'Look at (object)' results in Westland turning to face 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 author Jim Walls, is to 'read like a newspaper'... pity it had to be the Ludlow Advertiser.