Taking gaming to the cloudsIf you already own a quality gaming rig, an Xbox 360, or a PS3, the chances are the UK’s new game-streaming service OnLive may not be for you. If, however, your PC struggles to cope with the processing power needed for busy online multiplayer skirmishes, or sparkling hi-def graphics - or you simply want the flexibility to take your games catalogue on the move and don't have the patience for lengthy downloads - then this new service could be right up your street.
Initially rolled out in the U.S. in summer 2010, OnLive is a cloud-based gaming platform: games are rendered and stored on remote servers. They are then delivered via the Internet and streamed directly to your PC or TV, much in the same way you view video content on YouTube. The difference here is that the games are streamed directly from OnLive servers, eradicating the need for you to download game files, DLC and patch updates. The result of having your gaming content streamed means that, inevitably, there's a drop in graphical quality; and the bigger the screen you use the less crisp games look in comparison to the sumptuous HD visuals on console or PC. However - as the old videogame adage goes - graphics don't make or break a game.
In fact, OnLive has seriously surprised us. We expected games to look awful and perform inadequately with scrambled pictures, stuttering and major issues with latency. Throughout the experience though - despite being acutely aware that streaming is never going to give you the precise accuracy that you'll get from playing a game directly on an actual gaming machine - this virtual micro-console has performed impeccably well. Being able to buy and play a PC game within a matter of seconds, get a decent-quality picture and a stable stream - with only minor input lag - is quite an impressive feat. Indeed, it's clear right from the moment you arrive at OnLive's streamlined interface that there's going to be a lot of people who will enjoy and benefit from its accessible, medium-to-high-quality gaming experience.