A Review of OnLive – PCSeptember 30th, 2011
Although this review will stand on it’s own, it does follow on from the 1st impressions of OnLive so I suggest you go read that first here.
Ok, on to the review…
First off, I want to lay down some points. I have at home 50MB internet as I said in the 1st impressions and issues with Lag would really kill a service like this so I suggest you TRY the service for free with a demo before you purchase anything.
Things I like
1. No installing. I decided to really give the OnLive system a test and purchased Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a game I’ve been meaning to play but just haven’t gotten round to. After busting out my debit card, it took me approximately 2 minutes until I was in the game watching the intro. No downloads, no installing… bliss.
2. 100 games for £6.99 a month. This is a great deal if you’re like me and play games for a bit and then move on to the next (with most games anyway). For £6.99 you can have access to a great mix of games so you always have something new to try out. At the moment it’s mainly games I would class as ‘indie’ but there are a few AAA titles such as Batman: Arkham Asylum in there and OnLive are still adding gmaes to this offer so I can only hope it well get a few more big names in there.
3. Controller support. There are certain games where a controller is better than keyboard and mouse (stop your ranting you PC elitists). For example, racing games I find much more enjoyable on a controller, and platformer’s too. There are others but they are the biggies for me. I would probably include flying games in there too but I’m not a big fan on them. I have an Xbox 360 pad I use in my PC for these games and OnLive just worked. No telling it what controller I wanted to use, no re-installing drivers… it just worked. Fair play OnLive, fair play…
4. Selection of games. I’m a big steam user and I think I own around 130 games on there so I’m used to having just about every game I could possibly want only a few clicks away and I was expecting OnLive, with it still being fairly new, to let me down in this respect. But it really didn’t. It had a creat collection of games, old to new, indie to AAA. Not a lot more to say about that really.
5. Less computer power needed. I gave OnLive a go on my 5 year old Laptop I have laying around. Now, after being used for high-end gaming for quite a few years, it’s battery life now is probably 30 minutes browsing the web and 10 minutes playing a game. I opened up OnLive and set to playing some indie game and the battery life lasted around 24 minutes before shutting off. Since OnLive just streams video, it really doesn’t use much more power (battery or CPU/GPU) than watching Youtube so that’s a great plus. Also, if you’re a fan of recording yourself play, this means you can play those brand new AAA titles, record the video and not get any lag, even on a low-end system.
Things I don’t like
1. Support. This is actually a big one as when I get a free service and there’s no support other than a forum I’m not that fussed, but if I’m paying £6.99 a month I expect replies to my emails. I decided to try OnLive at work where I only have 10MB internet to see if lag was an issue and after installing the software and trying to log in I got an error saying I had been disconnected from OnLive with the error code ‘A25′. Ok I thought, time for a google search.
I performed the search and found a post on some fan forums with a list of ports OnLive needed to be open to work. I double checked this on the support pages (I use the term ‘support pages’ loosely) and indeed, these ports needed to be open. I logged into the router (something I had not needed to do at home) and opened the ports. Still nothing…
I eventually gave up on the googling and decided to send a support request. I ran their lovely tool that scans various things on your system to give them info such as OS version, network activity etc and drafted my request, trying to be as thorough as possible. This was on Wed 28th at 3pm. It is now Fri 30th and I have yet to recieve a reply…
2. Mouse/Keyboard Lag. This is possibly the most dissapointing. In my first impressions I tried BioShock and after moving the mouse and pressing a few keyboard keys I said to myself “they work, now lets try a controller”. The reason for this is that I had played Bioshock on the Xbox 360 and so I could more accurately compare them game ont he 2 systems with use of the same controller. It was just as good as the 360, if not better since I didn’t have to find the disc to play it. Sadly, when I started up Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I opted for the Keyboard and Mouse option (because it’s obviously better for FPS you condole fools!).
I found that movement was terrible! The mouse movements had a ‘floaty’ feel, like your computer was trying to play a game that was slightly too high performance for your machine. And holting down ‘W’ (that’s forward to you not in the known) I seems to crawl very slowly towards my objective. Out of curiosity, I switched back to the 360 pad. Perfect!
I find this very strange that 2 analogue sticks and various buttons can send data faster than movement of a mouse and holding down of the ‘W’ key. Now, I’m not certain if this was a problem with Deus Ex: HR in perticular or a problem throughout because when I returned to Bioshock I did still have some input lag, but not as bad. I’d love some replies from people trying OnLive to see if they had similar as forums just seem to be people saying “Haha, how did you not expect it to lag you n00b!” or “Mine’s fine, must just be you”…
3. First game for only £1. Why is this on my list? Surely £1 for your first game is a great deal?! Well, yes… it should be. I decided, as you may have guessed, to make my first game Deus Ex: HR. I followed the instructions of logging into the market, selecting the game and purchasing the full game onyl to be greeted by a checkout page with the game at £34.99. “Odd” I thought to myself and re-checked the process again.
Still £34.99. I figured it must apply the discount after I clicked “Pay now” when I would surely be prombpted to enter my card details. “Please re-enter your password”, ah, security! I like it! Then after entering my password of “Pincess123″ (only kidding… *cough*) my payment went through and my card was charged £34.99.
What…The….Fiddlesticks! So not only did I pay almost 35x what I was expecting but I didn’t even have to enter my card details again? Now normally I would probably be happy not having to find my card and enter all the info again, but this time I wasn’t.
Things I’m not so sure on
1. Spectating. OnLive has a ‘neat’ little feature where you can pick any person in the community and watch them playing their game. Since the game is actually taking place on the servers it’s not much more effort to send that stream to 2 people (or more) than it is just to the person who’s playing so they added this feature in.
I immagine this is really good for checking out game sbefore you buy them (although you could just play the demo since there’s no installing) but it’s actually quite strange when you’re playing. Every so often I would be happily shooting some gangsters in the face when a little achievement-style icon would appear in the top right of my screen informing me “1337Haxx0r1234″ was now watching me play.
I suddenly felt nervous, even though I knew he couldn’t talk to me and I’d never have any contact with this amazing hackor of games, the fact that somone out there was watching me play made me be very careful to play well. I’m still not sure what I feel about this feature if I’m honest.
2. The console. I have a couple friends who got them free as they went to Euro Gamer recently (the bastards) so I;ve not yet had a go on one, but I plan on doing soon I think.
I really do like OnLive, even if the support seems lacking and I can’t use my keyboard and mouse without wanting to throw them out of the window. I wasn’t planning on using OnLive to replace my PC gaming, simply because I have an expensive gaming machine that is more than capable of playing all the latest games at full spec. But I was looking at a possible replacement for my 360 for some casual gaming.
Since the controller, in my experience anyway, works perfectly well and any game I purchase I have access to on all devices OnLive is available for I think it does that pretty well.
Once I’ve had a go on the console version I may very well be trading in my 360 that’s sat downstairs gathering dust, and get myself a console and a few games.
So, finally. If you want something to play console-style games on or have an older PC then this is a great product. If you’re wanting it as a replacement for the classic model of installing games and playing them then I’d give it another year or so to iron out the bugs.
I hope you found this review useful, and this is Dan signing off!