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Video Game / Operator's Side

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You may be looking for the mobile game series Lifeline instead. Or the Star Trek: Voyager episode, Star Trek Voyager S 6 E 24 Life Line

Operator's Side, released as Lifeline in North America by Konami, was a 2004 PlayStation 2 game by Sony Computer Entertainment (now known today as Sony Interactive Entertainment) that attempted a new spin on the Survival Horror genre by making the player Mission Control. Set in the year 2029, it casts the player as a young man visiting a newly opened, state-of-the-art hotel inside an orbiting Space Station. After monsters crash the party, the player awakens inside the station's main control center, with no clue as to how he arrived there or where his girlfriend is.

However, using the ship's various cameras, he locates a survivor — a cocktail waitress named Rio — and contacts her via her headset. From there, the player must guide Rio through the monster-infested station, gradually unraveling the truth behind the incident.

Instead of controlling Rio directly via a gamepad, the user gives her commands over a USB headset, with scripted voice commands such as 'shoot [the] head (or other weak point), 'dodge left/right/back', 'turn left/right', 'stop', 'run' and so on. The player can also direct Rio during cutscenes, make small talk, and even restore her health by playing tongue twisters with her.

Operator's Side provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: When everything works right, Rio is a small One-Man Army against the monsters in her path and mows them down with extreme accuracy. When everything doesn't work right or the player doesn't cooperate with her, Rio turns into a Faux Action Girl by either refusing to do anything to protect herself properly or flatout botching orders and missing shots.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: If Rio shoots an alien in the right body part at the right time, the alien will instantly die.
  • Boobs-and-Butt Pose: Rio has her back turned in the game's cover art, with her head turned towards the viewer and her breasts and butt in display.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Rio Hoeinheim is half-Japanese, half-German. Turns out this is somewhat plot relevant.
  • But Thou Must!: When you meet her, Rio asks you to remind her what your girlfriend's name is (Naomi); however, you're more than welcome to suggest other possibilities — the game actually recognizes several different names, which Rio then echoes — but she will just keep prompting you with more and more blunt pointers towards the right name until you get it right.
  • Cat Scare: Done several times, most notably with a music box.
  • Collection Sidequest: The sixteen chips.
    • Also various commands that can be found and then issued that don't have much value in advancing the game, such as "Sexy Pose".
  • Colony Drop: Towards the end, albeit not as a Timed Mission thankfully. The Big Bad opted to just drop the entire space hotel on Tokyo For the Evulz once his research and plans are destroyed; it takes Rio and the player setting the station to self-destruct to prevent this.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Rio was just on the space hotel as a means to find answers about the man that killed her father. It just so happens to turn out that the Philosopher's Stone in her chest had various replicas made by the man who did the deed, who transforms everyone into monsters for the hell of it while Rio gets caught up in the midst of everything by pure accident. On the hotel's opening ceremony day, no less!
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: In this game, Square is Select, not X. This has thrown many people off already.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Rio, the cute cocktail waitress you have to guide and help throughout the game, was wounded fatally as a child and lost her family due to an associate to her father's research betraying them all. Turns out she's followed leads involving this and ended up at the hotel as a result.
  • Developer's Foresight: Surprisingly, quite a few commands/questions avoid breaking the fourth wall. The first such example is asking Rio how to open the door to the room she's stuck in, which she will give (completely useless to the player) instructions on how to activate the door.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Rio simply cannot take no for an answer, even though she's aware the MC is in a relationship.
  • Easter Egg: Very early on, when Rio forgets the name of your girlfriend, if you answer with the name of Rio's voice actress instead of "Naomi", she'll remark about how that name sounds familiar, but isn't the name of the girlfriend. Likewise, if you answer with Rio's own name, she wonders how you could possibly know it.
    • X-Play once found a rather interesting one: Adam, playing the game for the review and frustrated at Rio's particular brand of uncooperativeness, mutters "bark like a dog" into the microphone, and Rio responds, "Little dog, wuff wuff, or big dog, roof roof?" After the segment they actually went to the trouble to explain that no, they hadn't included it as a joke (which they were occasionally wont to do); it was actually part of the game.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Besides Rio, the player, and a small handful of survivors that get rescued shortly after meeting them and disappear from the plot, every other named character dies either by the creatures, or by Rio's hand after they were converted into a monster (excluding Naomi by technicality).
  • Fake Difficulty: Not only does the shoddy voice input system mean that Rio can mishear the player entirely at random, but the game tries to loosely simulate her having a mind of her own by botching shots or doing things in the wrong order. There's a high chance that you'll give an order, but the game will inexplicably put a high latency on it. Considering she refuses to do anything without your orders in the first place and you can't speak while Rio's talking unless specifically designated to be able to do so, this is frustrating for a multitude of reasons; especially in the cutscenes that have a "Press X to Not Die" requiring strict timing for her to do specific actions or else die horribly.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Most of the game is spent looking through the station's security cameras, and you only ever see your character briefly from behind in the beginning and end of the game. However, it's pretty clear that you're playing as a young Japanese man.
  • Fission Mailed: Throughout the game and even shortly beforehand, the operator is usually required to give a command to Rio or at least say something or another to keep her alive in tense cutscenes. But right before the end, the Big Bad just shoots her outright in a cutscene. A Genre Savvy player is probably quick to assume Like You Would Really Do It, and it's confirmed not even twenty seconds later. After she lights him up with her machinegun.
  • Foreshadowing: Beyond conversations with others bringing up small factoids that tend to crop up later such as one guest proclaiming that the aliens are taking the form of humans early on, Rio has an excessive habit of doing a recap of info she and the operator know so far before stopping short of what they could possibly mean. It gets extremely blatant when she does an Exposition Dump and then trails off with unsubtle implications for later reveals.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: After the Big Bad is filled with lead courtesy of Rio, pay attention and you'll notice he's still moving his head and thus barely survived long enough to go One-Winged Angel.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: One early puzzle involves reciting a three-part password: the player recites one part, Rio another, then both must recite the full phrase in unison. Unfortunately, the timing of this last part is frustratingly difficult to get down, and made worse by how the game doesn't recognize that the player is speaking if Rio is talking. Meaning the player has to, basically, trick the game into thinking you spoke in perfect unison, while actually reciting the phrase so that it can be "heard"...
  • Gameplay Protagonist, Story Protagonist: YOU are the voice on the other end, trapped in the control center of a monster-infested space station, helping the heroine through the puzzles and combat in the game.
  • Gem Heart: Rio has the Philosopher's Stone as this.
  • Genre Shift: For most of the game, it plays itself up as a sort of sci-fi survival horror. Towards the endgame, however, seemingly-magical Philosopher's Stones start popping up, there's a conspiracy involving the research on them, and the Big Bad's plans reach ludicrous levels amidst revelations about Rio's past as the story transforms into a fast-and-loose thriller with light fantasy elements.
  • Heroic BSoD: After giving her father's Brain in a Jar a Mercy Kill without him even realizing it was her, and having Naomi die in her arms only minutes later after all the effort in trying to find and rescue her, Rio suffers a brief but severe breakdown. The operator ends up snapping her out of it, not that there are any other options.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Naomi, transformed into a destructive psychic monster against her will, nearly chokes Rio to death unintentionally. But hearing the operator call her name from Rio's earpiece snaps her out of it, and causes her to realize that her boyfriend's still alive and yet she's too dangerous to be allowed to live. So she seemingly blinks herself out of existence after affirming for Rio to protect you.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Joe's plans would've gone swimmingly and Rio would have been either isolated or killed had he not tossed you into the room that you'd take the role of operator from, effectively making you a Spanner in the Works.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: When everything works, Rio's a surprisingly good shot right down to the individual eyeballs of a monster. The Big Bad also remarks that he's not the most impressive marksman but accurately shoots Rio in the heart with a hipfired shotgun round in zero-G, simply to recreate him shooting her in the heart as a kid For the Evulz. It hits her Pocket Protector instead. Whoops.
  • Just Between You and Me: After getting Rio at gunpoint, the Big Bad openly lists pretty much every single atrocity he's committed to Rio's face as well as his overall plans just to be a Jerkass because he's evil. Though partially subverted in that he doesn't fall for Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? and promptly blasts Rio immediately after.
  • MacGuffin: The Philosopher's Stone and its fake recreations, which drive the entire plot of the game. Turns out that Rio is also a Macguffin Girl since the real stone had replaced her heart.
  • Mission Control: You play as one.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Manages to turn into a plot point, when the player has to help Rio create one to destroy an alien blocking a hallway.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rio.
  • New Game Plus
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • When Rio very politely asks you to help her, saying no 3 times will result in Rio shooting the camera, walking out of the room, and dying off-screen. This can also happen later on with a similar result.
    • Failing to tell Rio the right command during certain scenes can result in her dying horribly and a send back to your last save.
  • One-Winged Angel: Joe Powers seemingly gets offed by Rio in a Cutscene, but shortly thereafter he pulls out one last trick up his sleeve by mutating himself with his fake Philosopher's Stone to become a gargantuan beast. And then gets an entirely different boss fight from the normal play mechanics.
  • Philosopher's Stone: Invented by a distant ancestor of Rio, protected by her family and currently inside of Rio herself as a replacement for her heart as a last-ditch effort from her dying father to save her life as a child once they were both shot. Imperfect copies of the Stone are responsible for transforming the humans aboard the hotel into alien monstrosities in the Big Bad's pursuit of perfecting a recreation of it.
  • Player Nudge: Rio will often comment on what sort of action she and the player should take next. If the player falls silent for too long, she also starts asking for instructions.
  • Playing Possum: Rio comes across Alan while he's lying on the floor pretending to be dead. He then goes right back to it, though he's willing to move just enough to protect his nearby laptop if you attempt to look at it.
  • Pocket Protector: The Big Bad gets Rio at gunpoint and, after much Evil Gloating and Just Between You and Me, shoots her in the heart with a shotgun as an attempt to replicate how he thought he killed her as a child. And then he gets perforated from behind shortly thereafter. Turns out the real Philosopher's Stone he'd been seeking was put into Rio's chest wound by her mortally-wounded father, which not only revived her then but stops the bullet now.
  • Press X to Not Die: Well, Say X To Not Die. Certain scenes and puzzles are glorified quick time events, and if you don't time your command or say it as soon as possible, Rio can either sustain damage or instantly die. Considering the Fake Difficulty above, it's possible to fail these even if you do say the commands right. Also see Puzzle Boss below for a specific example.
  • Puzzle Boss: One early boss involves watching a near-invincible monster's movement pattern and having Rio throw a homemade Molotov Cocktail at just the right moment. Get the timing wrong, or wait too long, and what follows isn't pleasant. note 
  • The Reveal:
    • Rio not only was searching for information as to who killed her father and shot her as a child, but has the true, original Philosopher's Stone in her chest the entire time.
    • The Big Bad turns out to be a recurring name throughout the game, Joe Powers, who was responsible for everything that went wrong on both the hotel and in Rio's life. The man named Kraft that Rio had been hunting and Joe were one and the same, with Joe Powers being a translation of his birth German name into English.
  • The Scream: As Rio takes her machine gun to several canisters of copied Philosopher's stones.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: One of your side objectives is to find Naomi, your player character's girlfriend. She was personally turned into a creature by the Big Bad and experimented on behind the scenes to become a powerful psychic monstrosity, and ultimately kills herself once she realizes you're safe but her powers have been unintentionally hurting others.
  • Ship Tease: Rio with the operator (aka: you), as the game has multiple bonding moments over the course of the story that almost seem to exist solely to do this. You can be quite blunt about turning her down, not that it seems to change Rio's mind much despite the operator having a girlfriend they're trying to rescue. Considering you two escape the exploding space station together and Naomi entrusts your protection to Rio before she dies, it's pretty obvious what angle the developers were going for.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Rio echoes Alan's description of the monsters as aliens in a questioning tone, he snaps back at her, mockingly asking what else they could possibly be and ranting about how that sort of research is decidedly illegal.
  • Third-Person Seductress: Rio.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: While the Big Bad is seemingly a man named Kraft, it turns out he'd changed his name long ago to an English equivalent you keep hearing throughout your adventure as a supposedly dead guest: Joe Powers. Who has a whole laundry list of atrocities and actions for just about every event in the plot he handily lists off to Rio while giggling like a madman.
  • Tongue Twister: You can play tongue twisters with Rio after locating the correct command. Copy her without flubbing the words and she regains some health for free.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Rio wants to be an Action Girl real bad, but without your orders she'll die horribly. This also is exemplified when the commander of the rescue team (really a mercenary squad sent to cover up the events) is attacked by a psychic alien that stops all of his bullets. Despite pleading for him to run, if the operator doesn't have Rio book it herself, she'll stay behind and both promptly die. Despite her knowing full well that she can't beat it and having been running away just beforehand!
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: It makes sense to occasionally provide recaps if a player saves and quits, sure. But Rio apparently thinks you've got the attention span of a child, because at almost every stop she'll break out either exposition relevant to the story, or a quick recap of what you need to do. Even if danger is afoot in the Puzzle Boss situation.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Inverted - you're the one talking here.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Rio gets pissed off if you swear at her. And you will.
    • She also gets increasingly frustrated the more often you have to repeat a task, and will start berating and blaming the player to just get it right already.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Big Bad Joe Powers doesn't give a damn about who gets in his way, and explicitly shot Rio in the chest as a child when he betrayed her family to steal their Philosopher's Stone research. Something he mocks her over when he shoots her in the same spot again for good measure.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: The game's input system gives its own spin on this. Most of the time this is "Guess the noun" as you are trying to figure out what you should call the items you see. This is aggravated by the game's futuristic setting, which gives many everyday items an unfamiliar appearance.

Alternative Title(s): Lifeline 2003