- Lifeline (video game)
Lifeline Developer(s) SCEI Publisher(s) SCEI/Konami Platform(s) PlayStation 2 Release date(s) Genre(s) Action-adventure, Horror Mode(s) Single player Rating(s)
- ESRB: Mature
Media/distribution DVD-ROM System requirements
Lifeline, released in Japan as Operator's Side (オペレーターズサイド Operētāzu Saido ), is a video game released by SCEI and Konami for the PlayStation 2. It is a horror game in the genre similar to the Resident Evil series. Its defining aspect is that the player controls the game entirely by using a microphone to speak commands to on-screen characters. These commands are interpreted by the game via speech recognition. It is generally regarded by game reviewers as average, although its innovation has caused it to become a cult classic among fans. The game sold well enough to become a PlayStation 2 "greatest hit", with the lower-priced version released on September 25, 2003 in Japan. Both versions in Japan included the option to purchase the USB headset packaged with the game. The North American release did not offer this bundle.
In the near future (year 2029), the player is placed in the shoes of a young man who has attended a Christmas party in a newly developed hotel set in a Space Station. As the festivities proceed, problems arise with horrific monsters running rampant across the Space Station. Most of the inhabitants are slaughtered and devoured, with the player forcibly trapped in the Space Station's main control center and separated from his girlfriend, Naomi (Sayaka in the Japanese version). Elsewhere in the monster-infested hotel, a cocktail waitress named Rio (voiced by Mariko Suzuki in the Japanese version and Kristen Miller in the English version) has been locked in a detention cell for her own safety during the massive assault.
The player (referred to as the operator) has access to all Space Station mechanics via the control room and is able to observe everything in the area via cameras placed around the station. Noticing Rio as she attempts to contact the monitor room, the player establishes contact through her headset, and assists her through the perils of the horrendous station, as well as to discover the mystery behind the threat.
Lifeline's selling point is its advanced AI system and the ability to direct Rio through the game via the USB headset peripheral.
The player is given no direct control over Rio during any course of the game. Instead, the headset's communication aspect is utilized to its fullest, by giving the player the ability to use scripted commands, outlined in the game's various menus. While holding the input mic button (the O button on the Dual Shock controller), such spoken commands include "hurry", "Stop", "dodge", and "turn left", which cause Rio to perform certain actions and progress throughout the game. Rio can understand up to 500 verbal commands.
The player is given access to various menus which provide inventory insertions, detailed maps, and commands to unlock various parts of the station. By using the menus available, the player directs Rio into combat, solving puzzles, and interactions with NPCs.
When Rio encounters one of the game's many monsters, combat ensues and the commands are given to direct Rio which enemy to fire at, which specific body part to fire upon, and when and where to maneuver. Combat perspectives switch between first-person and that of the cameras set about the station, with the latter more suitable for encounters of numerous foes.
Additionally, plot interactions are followed through at the player's general discretion, with Rio inquiring which path of action to take. In common situations, the player can engage in normal "small talk" and friendly conversation with Rio, with the latter sometimes inquiring for it. However, the voice chat has been commonly attributed as the game's weak point, due to inaccurate actions taken when commands are given, and the basic sense of conversation and directions reduced to simple verbs and nouns, particularly when in the course of solving many of the game's puzzles. There are also a few "Easter Egg (media)" conversations, in which the player can command her to do less than mature things (I.E. to "Bark like a dog").
Game Informer lists the game among the worst horror games of all time. IGN notes that while the voice recognition system is "quite deep", the player "will need to practice enunciating regular words and learning the speed at which the game best responds", and "might spend five minutes trying to get the right word to simply inspect a worthless book."
- Ryan Davis (2003, 2004). "Lifeline review at GameSpot". Gamespot. http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/action/operatorsside/review.html?page=2&q=. Retrieved May 22, 2006.
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