Wednesday, October 26, 2011
After finally experiencing OnLive for reals, I do have something to say about it: the service is amazing.
As a means to summarize: you shouldn't be afraid to invest in OnLive.
Originally no one believed OnLive could work, that it was theoretically impossible. Well, the many who said that are wrong. For the experience to be one-to-one, yeah I'm sure that is impossible. I don't think I'll ever get a crystal clear 1080p stream with 1ms response, at least not anytime soon, but what you do get is pretty good.
I bought Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Augmented Edition from a sale OnLive is having for celebration. I'll be honest, even though the sale is crazy and I bought a $70 game for one whole dollar, I've seen no hubbub about it at all. Which is saddening, because this is a good time for anyone to try OnLive for almost no price of entry. Their loss, but I think OnLive could really use the PR at this point.
So I played DX:HR for the first time. I'm very bad at playing currant games because, well, I'm cheap as shit and I don't really like buying games at full price, and I'm currently pretty broke. This deal came at a great time and I can now enjoy an amazing game. It's very obvious that the video stream is fuzzier, jaggier and duller than one would expect on a monitor or HDTV. However, what you do get is sometimes indistinguishable from the real deal. At first you'll notice the difference, especially if you're a hardcore PC gamer, but eventually you'll forgive it.
To be clear, I'm not saying it's 'good enough'. The video is genuinely good and often looks better than what you'd see on an Xbox 360 or PS3. Overall the visuals do have a muggy feel about them, but I was playing DX:HR and the game seems very brown overall, so that might have caused some confusion about how good the visuals are overall, but I'll get back to that once I've played DX:HR locally.
The more important and deciding factors are controls and feel. A huge fear with OnLive is latency from input to reaction. Many say that it has to be near one millisecond in order to have the same feel as a mouse and keyboard. From what I know personally, consoles have around a 10ms response time depending on the game, so 1ms seems a little extreme. Honestly, even if the lag is noticeable, if it's consistent and still kind of quick, it's manageable. However, OnLive preforms amazingly.
At first the mouse and keyboard response felt very sluggish. The latency wasn't much. It was there and with a simple test it was easy to see. However, the response still felt quick enough that it didn't make the game unplayable at all. I did have the feeling that if I hit the buttons harder or move the mouse quicker that the response would be better, but eventually I got over it. Before I noticed, the lag was all but gone and it hadn't bothered me in hours. A hard thing to explain is continuous input. Whenever I would start moving the mouse, the reaction would take a moment to 'wake-up' but once it had, the input felt almost one-to-one.
I also used an Xbox controller and the experience was very similar. I didn't enjoy it as much, but it certainly works and moving from one device to the next was smooth and easy. This might be a DX:HR thing, but if it is something OnLive has done, it's amazing.
Finally, I very much enjoyed moving the OnLive window from one monitor to the next, something I could never do with any PC game. I have three monitors and one is an HDTV that faces my couch. I could easily move the window from my monitor to that TV easily and sit on my couch with a controller. Perhaps the greatest strength of OnLive is its flexibility.
One last note is the PlayPack Bundle. It's $10 a month one would pay in order to play something like 100 games for free, for as much as you want. A lot of those are indie games, but there are also some golden gems in there like BioShock, Just Cause 2 and Borderlands, just to name a few. Alongside that one gets upwards of 40% discounts on just about anything, including new releases. It's an amazing deal that has gone unnoticed.