[Hardware] OnLive Service and Game System
One of the largest problems with PC gaming is that consumers just don’t “get it.” Either save a couple hundred bucks and build your own powerhouse PC, even capable of running Total War: Shogun 2 at its optimal setting, or throw away money at prebuilt computers that have needlessly fancy cases, decent power, and a wallet-hole-burning price tag. OnLive is a cloud gaming service that seeks to end that; with all the game data being streamed, there’s no question about hardware limitations and even the most basic modern computer can run games like Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood at its optimal settings.
First off, since games are streamed, users will need a decent connection. According to OnLive, users should have at least a 3 Mbps connection and recommended 5 Mbps connection. Throughout most of my own gameplay experience, the quality really depended on the game as much as my connection. Of course, if certain applications that really ate up the connection, such as download clients, were on, the quality would suffer. If these were off, though, games like Brotherhood played like a dream. Sometimes, I would have forgotten that I was on a cloud gaming application. During cinematics, though, the video quality suffered a bit across the board. Spots would become blurry as one would see in a streaming video. At times, games may also freeze for a couple of seconds; this was mostly random and couldn’t be attributed to any particular reason. Otherwise, the actual gameplay was flawless.
The system itself is interesting as well. No larger than a laptop-sized external hard drive, it’s capable of streaming the whole library’s games straight to a TV or whatever output device you can find that has an HDMI in. The OnLive controller is acceptable. While the d-pad on it feels lackluster, the actual analog sticks and buttons are just as useable and feel just as responsive as any other first party controller gamers will find. Thankfully, the selection of games nowadays rarely even makes use of a d-pad for motion, so this concern is just one of an old school gamer who can’t keep his hands off of one. At times, though, it can get a bit annoying when certain games aren’t configured properly for the OnLive Game System’s controller. While I was playing F.3.A.R., onscreen commands prompted me to press keyboard keys such as F1 or E, which was both confusing and annoying.
The best part about having an OnLive system is not actually having the freedom of playing the games on a controller, but being able to play PC games on any TV with a mouse and keyboard. Let’s face it; setting up a PC on a TV can be a pain if it doesn’t have a VGA input. Most TVs, however, will have an HDMI in, making it easier for gamers who prefer mouse and keyboard to play their games on a large TV instead of a 20-something inch monitor.
The final question for consumers is whether or not they should jump on this. It really depends on the type of gamer we’re talking about here. Most hardcore PC gamers probably already have a rig that’s capable of playing games and console gamers are unlikely to take the leap of faith in cloud gaming when physical copies of gamers are much more reliable. However, those in-between might want to give it a try. With free demos, a free client, and rentals of games for less than ten bucks, players will be able to give both the service and various games a good try before committing to a pricey purchase. OnLive’s usability and the quality of its experience lie heavily on the individual user’s internet connection and gaming preferences. Regardless, it’s a great service already and definitely worth a go.
Currently, both the client and account registration for OnLive are 100% free. For more, visit OnLive’s website.