OnLive-Controller

Review: OnLive, the on-demand video gaming service

OnLive-Controller

OnLive, the Spotify of gaming, has been around for a while with its quiet promises of revolutionising home entertainment. If you’ve not yet read the pamphlet (or Jack’s in-depth article on the service here), OnLive are hoping to move the gaming industry into the future, enabling users to stream the latest games into their houses via relatively small and inexpensive software. The OnLive Micro-Console isn’t much larger than a portable USB hard drive and in theory could easily be built into the next generation of Smart TVs.

But what’s it like to use?

Well BT is offering its broadband subscribers an exclusive opportunity to get the OnLive PlayPack Bundle free for three months when they sign-up before January 31 2012. As part of this promotion they sent me an OnLive Micro-Console to test.

As far as setting up goes, it’s a relatively simple beast, with ports for power and ethernet on the back and USB ports to charge the controllers on the front. You can buy a wireless adaptor but unless you have a rock solid connection that you trust whole heartedly I wouldn’t recommend it. It merely took minutes to get going and creating an account is also child’s play. I have a modest 8 Mbps connection at home with Be Broadband (a far cry from the “up to 24 Mbps” advertised but that’s a grumble for a different day) so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first plugged the Micro-Console in.

Actual use was an interesting experience. The quality of graphics is surprisingly high but you can definitely tell you are streaming. The occasional artefacts will appear on-screen in a cut sequence. I popped on Arkham City as a free trial and was able to be up and running in mere minutes – far superior to the current “download and wait for endless updates” system on conventional consoles. Street Fighter IV played back flawlessly, with no discernible albeit with image quality not quite up to playback from a physical disk. Batman Arkham City suffered from a tiny bit of lag on some of the fight sequences, but not enough to be off-putting.

If you are an avid gamer and rip through the latest titles (and then sell them) week after week, it’s pretty easy to recommend giving the OnLive system a go – provided you have the bandwidth to handle it.

As I mentioned at the start of the article, BT is offering its broadband subscribers an exclusive opportunity to get the OnLive PlayPack Bundle free for three months when they sign-up before January 31 2012. This means people will be able to play over 100 top video games on their TV, laptop or tablet, such as Fear 3 and Batman: Arkham Asylum, at any time without the need for software. Plus you get access to the latest games such as Saints Row: The Third and Batman Arkham City for an additional fee.

For more information head to BT