ALIENS meet Rise of the Robots and X-COM: Terror from the Deep in this disappointing new Infogrames action simulation set during the run-up to World War II. The date is January 1937 and you are Lieutenant Ryan, third-in-command of the secret service submarine HMS Victoria which has been sent on an operation to the South Pole. Operation 'Polaris' rescues a young Norwegian explorer, Bjorn Hamsun, and picks up two mysterious crates which had been trapped under the ice. In the operation, however, the second in command, Lieutenant O'Leary, is feared dead (you step in to fill his shoes) and Hamsun's father remains trapped in his frozen prison. Hamsun himself remains in deep shock and in a state of mental agitation. After being attacked by enemy ships, the hold of the submarine catches fire and, upon investigating, Ryan and the ship's commander, Captain Lloyd, discover that the ice around the crates has thawed. Before they realise what is happening, however, a huge tentacle reaches out from the cell door and whisks Captain Lloyd to his demise. Before long, you are faced with a deadly monster that looks like a cross between a robot and the creatures from Alien and Species - without the slobbering mouth. Your job now is to not only stay alive, but to guide the submarine to safety and prevent the creature from falling into enemy hands - a daunting and dangerous task. In view of the fact that the game is from Infogrames, which gave us such ground-breaking games as Alone in the Dark and its sequel, Prisoner of Ice is a bit of a cold dish. After the polygon features of the characters in Alone in the Dark and the smooth 3-D animation, the characters in Prisoner of Ice seem almost infantile and it certainly is a step backwards in graphics, even in SVGA. At the bridge of the HMS Victoria, for instance, details are difficult to make out and the characters all stand rather awkwardly. With the action limited to the confines of a submarine, scenes get boring enough as it is. The one good shot is a close-up of the creature as it prepares to attack but that usually marks the end of Lieutenant Ryan, so it doesn't do players a lot of good to see it! Control of the game by keyboard is not a lot more to gurgle about either. The cursor changes from a book with flipping pages (when the characters are speaking), to a pointing finger (when you can execute a task) to a CD-ROM (when the CD loads in another new scene). What is irritating is that even with digitised speech and printed dialogue, the speech - and the action - halts at every pause unless you keep clicking on the mouse. Other games have come up with different speeds for speech from as far as a few years back and it's baffling that Infogrames has not done the same for Prisoner of Ice. It is priced at HK$239.