Lifeline

aka: Operator's Side
Moby ID: 13912
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Description official description

The year is 2029. The date is Christmas Eve. At the grand opening of the Japan Space Station Hotel, a horde of creatures bursts into the hotel and they start killing everyone. You manage to escape, but you are trapped inside a security room with no chance of getting out. Your only hope lies in Rio, a lone woman, whom you guide by talking to her. Guide her well, and she may be able to rescue you. Rely on her, for she is your one and only life line.

Lifeline is the first game on the PlayStation 2 that is entirely voice controlled. You do not directly control Rio. Instead, you speak to her and tell her what to do. If you want her to open the bathroom door, tell her to open the bathroom door. If there is a keycard laying on the table, tell her to pick it up. If a monster is closing in that she can't shoot, tell her to run away. You explore the entire Space Station Hotel, from the kitchen to maintenance to bedrooms to bathrooms, finding items and encountering a slew of different enemies.

The game recognizes over two thousand words and phrases. Commands generally consists of a noun and a verb, but many of those can be combined into a single command (e.g. reload, shoot, retreat). Rio can also be ordered to target specific parts of enemies to exploit their weaknesses and players can also change the attack order in a similar fashion.

A headset is required to play the game, from a game bundle, a third-party headset, or any headset compatible with USB.

Spellings

  • Life-Line - Alternate spelling
  • オペレーターズサイド - Japanese spelling

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Credits (PlayStation 2 version)

137 People (101 developers, 36 thanks) · View all

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 64% (based on 18 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 7 ratings with 1 reviews)

Not as interactive as I'd hoped.

The Good
I found LifeLine in an EB bargain bin for $7.95, minus my discount, so I picked it up along with a microphone headset (required). The idea of a voice-controlled adventure game intrigued me as a long-time fan of text-based interactive fiction (heh, there's a term that dates me as a gamer). In short it was cheap and the concept was fresh.

The Bad
I wanted to like LifeLine so much more than I ended up doing. The sad truth is that Sony's voice-recognition software needs a lot of tweaking. Despite the boast of thousands of words on the game case, nearly all of them are directly related to gameplay. That is, there aren't many things you can say to Rio that generate the kind of responses that made typed-command adventures so much fun. I never once was struck thinking, "Wow, I can't believe the programmers actually thought to code a response to a statement like that!" LifeLine is by the book, follow the numbers, connect the dots. There are basically no side avenues to explore.

Still, once I identified the game's limitations, I was able to work within them, most of the time. The worst part is when you see an object that you can have Rio interact with (the game lets you know this by flashing a little gold circle above it), but you have to GUESS what to CALL it. There aren't very many synonyms recognized so this quickly becomes very irritating. Also due to the poor quality of the voice recognition software, a lot of times Rio will misinterpret your instructions and wander off to do something else entirely. When this happens there's a brief period during which the game doesn't allow player input, so you have to wait for that to pass, tell her to stop, direct her back to where she was before, and try again. This is endlessly and indescribably frustrating. I tend to be pretty patient with games, but I suspect a lot of other players will be ripping their hair out, throwing controllers, or screaming profanity into the microphone.

As if to highlight the limitations of the primary game, the disc also includes a number of bonus games you can unlock by finding codes scattered throughout the space station. I think I had more fun playing these than the main adventure.

The Bottom Line
LifeLine is the sort of game that could, and should, have been great. But it desperately needs a better voice-recognition program and a slightly less cumbersome interface. I wouldn't actually advise against trying it, if you think you have the patience. But do keep a walkthrough handy, and don't hesitate to refer to it.

PlayStation 2 · by Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe (1674) · 2005

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by JPaterson.

Additional contributors: MAT, Apogee IV, timebender, DreinIX.

Game added July 8, 2004. Last modified January 4, 2024.