Codename: ICEMAN is a graphic adventure/submarine simulator released by Sierra in 1989. It was written and designed by Jim Walls, who also created the Police Quest franchise. Similar to many of Sierra’s adventure titles at the time, Codename: ICEMAN employs a text interface, asking the player to type in whatever directions they want the protagonist, Lt. Commander Johnny Westland, to follow.
Lt. Commander Westland is enjoying a vacation in Tahiti when the U.S. Ambassador to “the Middle East” is kidnapped. Oil has been discovered in Tunisia, and it’s believed the Ambassador’s abduction is a plot by Russian agents to hurt U.S. relations within the region. Westland hitches a ride on a submarine to the area, but after the Captain of the sub is incapacitated, circumstances lead to Westland taking control.
Codename: ICEMAN’s interface is operated in a typical method for adventure games of that time period. In order to interact with the environment, commands such as 'open drawer' and 'look in pockets' are needed. However, ICEMAN’s interface is slightly more technically advanced than some of its contemporaries, in that Westland’s position on the screen has a contextual impact on the responses the player receives. For example, if players simply type 'look', they will receive a description of whatever Westland is facing without having to know what the object he’s looking at is beforehand.
A large portion of the middle of the game is taken up by a submarine simulator. As most of the submarine panel is unlabelled and unexplained, it’s necessary to have the game’s manual handy to refer to during play. While most of the simulator is practicing changing speed and depth, there are battles with other ships as well. Many factors must be considered during battles, such as different types of sonar, temperature inversion layers, proper use of “Silent Running”, etc.
There are vast amounts of copy protection present in Codename: ICEMAN. Information in the manual is required for many parts of the game. These include: performing CPR, following the proper method of requesting to board a Naval vessel, decrypting messages from Washington, plotting an efficient course for the submarine, handling the submarine controls, and surviving a Naval battle.
There are numerous ways to become irrevocably stuck. One example is players turning in their ID card to a guard in order to enter a meeting. After the meeting ends, players must not only remember to ask the guard for their ID back, but they must also think to read their ID card in the guard’s presence to notice that they received the wrong card. If this isn't done at that precise time, players will not be able to progress further in the game past a certain point. This is only one of several scenarios where restoring to an earlier game (if available) would be necessary.