Some of those missing points may have been sacrificed by shoddy performances in the various mini-games, simulators, and "action" sequences that take up at least half the playtime. For instance, when it was time to turn on the closed circuit camera and drive in between the icebergs (imagine the world's slowest downhill slalom), the game came right out and told me I only scored 9 out of 10. Most of the sub simulator isn't that exciting, and involves a lot of switching from All Ahead Slow to All Ahead 1/3rd, and diving to 300 feet, then coming back up again. The way you do this is either with the mouse or the keyboard (keyboard is easier and more precise), with the manual open at your side. The Captain barks an order and you must comply within a forgiving amount of time, or you'll have to Restore, Restart, Quit. The only real issues with this are when the directions are overly vague (ACKNOWLEDGE GREEN BOARD had me puzzled for a while), otherwise it's all fairly straightforward and even kind of fun. That is, until you’re under attack.
There are only two Naval battles in the game, and each one requires its own strategy. Once again, it's back to the manual to learn the difference between Active and Passive Sonar, which torpedoes are best for a given situation, how to turn on Silent Running, and what a temperature inversion layer can do for you. The monitor gives you a picture of your sub on the left side, a picture of the enemy ship on the right, and underneath each little icon is one or more growing bars. When the bar moving right to left is almost on you, it's time for evasive action or a decoy, while the bar from left to right shows your own offensive progress. You can run out of torpedoes, so don't fire your sub like a tommy gun or you'll be sunk in no time. And torpedoes don't always hit their targets, so save and restore tactics are advised. If all else fails, sometimes it's easier to run and hide.
The only major side-game that doesn't allow save and restore tactics is the dice game. Restore in your own favor more than a few times and you'll be accused of cheating and have to go back to an earlier point to start all over. There's no getting around it either; you must win the dice game and win it decisively to acquire a few vital inventory items. It's called Boss Dice, and it's graded in the same fashion as poker, only with no straights or flushes. Best hand wins; win two out of three to take the pot. You'll have to take the pot several times before the salty sailor you're playing with will throw in the item you really need. There are a couple other non-traditional sequences, including a car chase at the end that's so broken it's the only time they actually give you the option to "Skip" it (though it deducts 10 points if you do), but none of them are very deep or interesting.
The visuals are old school Sierra all the way. Long-time adventure fans will feel a wave of joyous nostalgia as soon as they boot up. For the most part the little clumps of pixels are identifiable, though there isn't much detail (the worst offender is an item hidden in the sand that's only a pixel large). The music is pleasant in that old-fashioned PC speaker way, though it can occasionally be shrill and annoying. Long stretches pass in complete silence, so you may as well turn the music off and put a CD on. Without a doubt, the best use of sound is at the sub control panel. The low background rumble, the PING of the sonar, the THFFFT of an escaping torpedo; the quality and variety of the sound effects create a surprisingly effective auditory experience, especially in a game that's now almost 20 years old.
If I had to choose a single word to summarize the Codename: ICEMAN experience, it would be "mundane." Even saving a person's life on the beach becomes a tiresome exercise in transcribing exactly what the manual says to do for CPR. The most complex puzzle in the game involves taking measurements of cylinders and gathering the proper sizes of nuts and bolts from a tool shed. By seeking to create an authentic experience, Sierra took away the unrealistic fun of single-handedly saving the world and replaced it with stuff like plotting the most efficient route between two points within a minimum accepted range of deviation. Depending on the amount of time you spend restoring to earlier saves because you wandered down a dead end, the game will last 8-10 hours, more than enough time to wear out its welcome. If you're an adventure fan who also loves submarines, note-taking, and dice, this may in fact be the perfect game for you, but everyone else will want to leave Codename: ICEMAN in deep freeze.
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