Forgotten Treasures – Lifeline
Anyone who has ever caught themselves yelling at fictional characters on their TV screens should have Lifeline on their “must find; must buy” list. Lifeline’s game design is reminiscent of classic Resident Evil and Silent Hill games in that the players must control their character through environments as shown through static camera angles.
However, these static angles actually make sense in the game as players don’t actually control the protagonist directly. Instead they play as a civilian who gets sealed inside the space station’s main control room during a violent and bloody alien invasion. There, players can see every nook and cranny of the ship thanks to strategic cctv camera placements. There they also meet the protagonist and provide voice orders for her to follow if she is to survive the invasion.
As their spaceship gets taken over by human-hungry aliens, the player must help the main character named Rio to safety. They can do this by opening certain doors that allow Rio to continue through. That’s about the extent of controller play players will have to endure. Foregoing the traditional control schemes (and controllers for that matter), Lifeline’s players utilize the PlayStation 2 headset to bark actions at Rio. Players must issue orders like “Check that table,” “dodge left,” “shoot the head,” that Rio then translates onto the screen. Basically, if you tell her to do something, she will do it.
To add to the immersion factor, players can even have simple conversations with the main character, a feature that had never been used in any survival horror games before it. But keep in mind, this game was made in the early 2000’s so in-game voice-recognition technology was still at it’s infancy. While at times the voice-recognition was spot-on, there are more times when Rio misunderstands orders given to her, which can lead to many frustrating playthroughs.
While the graphics aren’t anything special, the characters and environments are decent enough and look slightly better than most budget-priced titles found for the PS2. And although the music, effects, and voice-overs give a sense of realism to the game, the sound quality could have been much better. Lifeline’s conversations and overall sound design would have much better if Dolby Digital or even Dolby Surround Sound were implemented into the game.
In the end, Lifeline for the PlayStation 2 was an ambitious, yet obscure, niche title that had ideas and features that were too advanced for it’s technology. However, anyone willing to try something different and control their on-screen characters using voice-recognition should play Lifeline; a unique experience in a tired genre.