OnLive Game System cloud gaming console

Server-ance play

Play time

OnLive recommends a broadband connection of at least 2Mb/s, and preferably as much as 5Mb/s to run games properly. My BT broadband connection is supposed to be 8Mb/s, but actually averages around 2.5Mb/s. Consequently, the Game System did warn me that the speed of my connection might affect the video quality, but I switched the output resolution down from 1080p to 720p and was pleasantly surprised to find that even action games, including Arkham City ran at playable speeds.

OnLive cloud gaming system in action

OnLive in action on my TV: Catwoman
Click for larger image

When dealing with latency, OnLive told me that it has fine-tuned the service to provide a round-trip latency of 100ms, which, it says, "will feel like a local game". Veteran gamers who are used to pings of less than 20ms might feel that’s not fast enough for their hair-trigger reflexes.

But hardcore players are going to want to use their own console or computer hardware anyway. The games I tried all ran fast enough for my more casual-player gaming skills.

OnLive cloud gaming system in action

And Lord of the Rings
Click for larger image

The one compromise caused by my relatively slow broadband was in graphics quality. The graphics definitely weren’t as sharp and detailed as you’d get from a PC or games console, and there were moments of frenzied Catwoman leather-and-whips action when things did get a bit blurry. However, I never experienced any pauses or slow-downs that marred the gameplay.

I have tried OnLive on a 5Mb/s-plus connection and the graphics were significantly sharper, so it’s definitely worth using an online speed measure such as Speedtest.net to make sure your broadband connection is up to the task before buying the standalone Game System.

Verdict

Testosterone-fuelled hardcore gamers will no doubt want to stick with their PCs or consoles, but I have to admit that the OnLive Game System worked better than I’d expected – even with my less-than-stellar broadband connection. The current selection of around 170 games certainly isn’t exhaustive, and for every Batman or Assassin’s Creed there’s a Cake Mania or Planet Horse. But for casual gamers and family audiences, the OnLive Game System really does offer an affordable alternative to a conventional games console. ®

Sponsored: 5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup

80%
OnLive cloud gaming system microconsole

OnLive Game System cloud gaming console

A few more games wouldn’t go amiss, and it's no PS3, but this easy-to-use and affordable cloud-gaming console has real potential.
Price: £70, including one controller. Extra controllers: £40 each RRP