This is not so much of a review but a general overview of the service on offer. I must confess when I first saw articles and features about OnLive I was both sceptical and curious as to how it all worked and wether or not it was worth investigating. In the end I saw that there was a free trial and so I signed in. First of all there are no downloads, all games are streamed to you live as you play and there is a tiny console, called the OnLive Game System, and control pad availiable.
This is connected to your modem and then plugged into the HDMI cable socket of your TV so all games can be fed to your TV in high definition. This is gaming without discs, no boxes cluttering up the room and the control pad looks like a combination of an Xbox control pad and the buttons resemble the PS3 six axis to a degree.
However this is not necessary, and for just £6.99 a month, the service can and feed games right to your PC. Furthermore once signed up, you can share the service between computers. One account here, and I can play games on both a Macbook and the main PC without having to re-download.
I know what some will be thinking, £6.99 a month that will add up over a year, but when you consider the range of games in the subscription package alone, then the savings you can make on the purchase price of games can more than make up for it. I will list some of the games on offer in a bit.
You can buy other games if you so desire. The complete L.A. Noire for instance is on offer for £24.99, which is cheaper than the official boxed version that is coming. It's still irksome that the missing cases from the PS3 version cannot just be downloaded through the market place straight to the hard drive of the Xbox. To play those cases I would have to buy them through OnLive. A minor quibble though.
Before I get to the games on offer, I will give an overview of how the service actually runs. For the most part all seems nice and smooth in both single player and multiplayer. There are times when lag effects the service I grant you but that can happen on PS3 and Xbox and for the most part it's nice and smooth and flows nicely. On the PC you can hook up your Xbox controller and play the same as if on the 360 and some games will play through the keyboard and mouse.
Graphics are of the same standard as the console versions and PC as you'd expect. Game sounds just the same although the shading and lighting sometimes looks slightly downgraded, but that's a minor complaint.
When lag hits, the picture can pixellate slightly and sometimes the sound can stutter, but I can live with that. Online play is competitive and for a change does not seem to be full of sarcastic or abusive teenagers yelling at you through your headset. (I say so far, hope it stays that well for a while!)
Yes the speed of the service is quite solidly reliable and when it does stutter or pixellates it doesn't slow down that much. So what about the games? Just how many are on offer here?
Well I have to keep checking as games are constantly updated and added and it's a great mix of genres. There are the RPG's, the First Person Shooters, and sim games; add a dash of RTS to the mix and there is something there for everyone. Race fans are not left out either. There truly is something for everyone, from up to date titles to some great retro classics. Don't believe it? Then here's what I can remember from the list right off the top of my head.
Batman Arkham Asylum
Hitman 2 & 3
Tomb Raider Legend
Tomb Raider Underworld
Tomb Raider Anniversary
Sid Meier's Pirates!
S.T.A.L.K.E.R Shadow of Chernobyl
F.E.A.R 2 multiplayer
Gear Grinder (Truck racing)
The Bard's Tale
Saint's Row 2
Borderlands GOTY edition
Assassin's Creed 2
Duke Nukem Forever
Call Of Juarez The Cartel
Deus Ex Collector's edition
Deus Ex Human Evolution
Dark Star One
There are more and there are more to come. Batman Arkham City is available, as is Saint's Row the Third. This means no boxes to clutter up your living room or take up space. And young kids are not left out of the mix either, with games like Cooking Mama, and a Gymkhana game for aspring Pippa Funnel's.
The only genre missing so far seems to be beat 'em ups. I am sure that maybe they will come sometime in the future. Also it should be noted that this started in the USA and some games do not have a licence here in the UK, so as yet there is no Split/Second Velocity here yet but there is a feeling it's coming.
Will OnLive threaten PS3 or Xbox? No I don't think so. The exclusive titles for both will stay on their respective properties. But it's a great way to get access to some much older titles without having to download them from the Xbox marketplace or PS network. OnLive offers an alternative market for games, and offers them at a reasonable price on the whole. Online is smooth and apart from the occaisional stutter as stated runs very smoothly indeed.
Frame rates seem fine with no visible drop outs or pop up. So far I am more than impressed with OnLive and am quite happy to keep the subscription running. I have been assured by those in the know that cancellation is as easy as can be. I can not see me buying the console and pad, its not needed. As said it can be run on both PC and Mac and runs on tablets as well.
I can keep folks here informed as to how things go through my blog. If I have to score this as I would for a review I would happily mark it at a good 9 out of 10.