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Huge OnLive Review: Cloud Based Gaming Platform For A New Age

Welcome back to your favorite unbiased and straight talk retro site on the net. We strive to do reviews from a gamers point of view with no hands from corporate coming in and messing around with true gamers’ point of view. We’re presenting this review to you our loyal community of gamers showing you the aspects of OnLive “WE” think are important reasons why OnLive is not only a true stepping stone of what is (in our opinion) going to be slowly but surely the wave of the future but, also try to explain in simple terms why anyone that loves games should already have OnLive as part of their gaming setup.

What is cloud gaming:

This review is quite a massive one by today’s standards. We feel like not many console gamers even think of OnLive as a true way of making gaming friends or playing games. I can admit that even most of us here at Old School Junkie felt the same way, until we got to really put the OnLive system to the test. All we can say now is that if you don’t give OnLive a try for “free”, then your not a true gamer. At least in our eyes..!

OnLive is a very solid and well thought out technology unlike anything we ever expected to see in this day and age of gaming. From the outside looking in, you’d think of OnLive as a gimmick that’s not going to make it against the big three Microsoft, SONY and Nintendo but!, we here to tell you that there’s another option for gamers that want to play a ton of games without having to actually buy every game that comes out. Since OnLive is all done entirely over the internet, the potential for expansion is almost limitless. I’m about to go through a few of the features that stand out to us and feel like are the bullet points to jump on board the OnLive train, all while still keeping your favorite console on the side for those pesky exclusives.

OnLive gives you “the gamer” an outlet to make new friends with like minded gaming habits also with the PlayPack package, gives you a mountain of high quality games that you’d mostly only find on the two other HD platforms for a dirt cheap price of $9.99 a month. In simple terms think Netflix instant stream but for games. You never install games or ever have to worry about DLC installs. If you own a game and new DLC becomes available, all you need to do is buy the DLC and once you run the title your DLC will already be there no installing the DLC or updating anything. It’s all just there when you log in.

One thing that no other console offers gamers (until it also becomes a cloud based system) is the fact that you’ll never play a crummy DEMO of the games found on OnLive. What you do get is real full game trials. Let me explain, If you see a game you want to try out before you make a decision on a game you can play the actual full version of the game for a full 30 minutes. So instead of getting a made up demo you just launch the game and you’ll get to see how the full version of the game is by playing the actual game for 30 minutes. Of course you can play the full multi-player or campaign of any game on the service.
We love knowing what we’re going to buy a game that we’ve actually played and not just some crappy demo.

That’s of course for those of you that want to purchase a game to keep forever not including the PlayPack option to play everything for as long as you have an active PlayPack bundle on your account. Not to forget that if you are a PlayPack subscriber your eligible for a massive 30% off any game purchases as well all special offers only available to PlayPack subscribers. For instance, right now you can Pre-Order the new Batman game for 30% off to keep forever but your also able to get another free game of your choice or a “FREE” MicroConsole from OnLive.

What’s not to love so far? Nothing.!

Controls:
Right now most of us love playing OnLive on our portable laptops and netbooks with an Xbox 360 controller and mic, but you’ll need one small device from Microsoft which can be found here but, if you on the MicroConsole, the controller is as near to perfection as one could get. The design of the controller is a perfect hybrid of the Xbox 360 controller and the Playstation 3 controller. With the D-Pad and Analog sticks having an optimized feel to them like more separation of the analogs for less cramping and a bigger D-Pad that really feels right. The LB and RB buttons from the XB360 controller along with proper triggers
and face buttons, back, start and the guide button in the center for accessing your games list, friends and messages. It’s truly a marvel in engineering. one of the most comfortable controllers I’ve used in decades.

Graphics:
Before we get into the hardware and software, let’s briefly talk about the graphics. From our experience and time with the games on OnLive, the visuals are on par with any 720p games on other platforms. We have to stress this one point though, the visuals are all done in the cloud. What does that mean to you? It means that all of the audio and visuals are processed on OnLive servers not on your end. Your fidelity really all depends on your internet connection. Think of it as a YouTube/Netflix stream. The lower the bandwidth the less crisp your image quality the better the sharper and cleaner both the image and sound get. The same is for the OnLive service. Look at the minimum requirements for optimal performance.

For the OnLive Game System:

Wired broadband connection near your television (2 Mbps minimum required, 5+ Mbps recommended)
HDTV with an HDMI connector OR a Component Cable Adapter available from the OnLive Web Store

On a PC or Mac:

MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

Internet Connection: 2 Mbps wired or Wi-Fi connection
Operating System: Windows 7 or Vista (32 or 64-bit) or XP SP3 (32-bit), Mac® OS X 10.5.8 or later
Computer: Most PCs and netbooks, all Intel-based Macs
Screen Resolution: 1024×576

RECOMMENDED SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

Internet Connection: 5 Mbps wired or Wi-Fi connection
Operating System: Windows® 7 or Vista (32 or 64-bit) or XP SP3 (32-bit), Mac® OS X 10.6 or later
Computer: Dual-core PCs, all Intel-based Macs
Screen Resolution: 1280×720

As you can see, it really doesn’t matter what hardware you have, since most any computer within the last couple of years will be plenty good enough to run OnLive, what you’ll really need is a high bandwidth internet connection to really enjoy what OnLive has to offer. we’ve tested OnLive over WiFi and it worked just fine for our optimized WiFi network. But to be honest, we still recommend that you direct cable connect for the best overall experience. This should be something you need to consider if your only connected to a WiFi connection and don’t have an available Ethernet connection for a direct internet connection.

The Hardware/Software:
Depending how your planning on accessing the OnLive service, you’ll either be going the PC/MAC route or the MicroConsole setup. Let’s go over the more basic and default way most people will get to test drive OnLive.
Simple steps and only a few minutes of your time will get you everything you’ll need to start playing right away. Go to OnLive.com create a “FREE” OnLive Game Tag (Name) register with an active E-Mail account and download the OnLive software and your half way there. Next run the OnLive program on your PC/MAC log in and your done. From this point without any credit card you can try over 90+ games currently available on the service.
The interface UI is straight forward. You see “Profile” that’s your profile your “Friends” section….well, you get the idea. You really just need to look at what you want to explore and select it. You have everything at your finger tips.
Profile/Marketplace/Friends/Arena/My Games/Brag Clips/Last Played and the Showcase section where you’ll find all of the current events and promotions currently available for new and veteran OnLive-ers.

MicroConsole: This little device is screaming ultra high quality. I had to get that out of the way. Most of the people we’ve shown the MicroConsole to have been, simply, blown away by the technology behind OnLive and the MicroConsole. We loved seeing the expressions and questions from the people we’ve let take OnLive for a test run. The setup is so easy that it’s even easier than hooking up a Nintendo Wii or “any” current console for that matter. Plug in an HDMI cable, Power Supply and Ethernet cable and that’s it. Your done.! Power on, Log In and your done. Browse the ever expanding library of triple A titles like the upcoming Saint’s Row: The Third or the currently available Deus EX: Human Revolution just to name a couple.
Any way you look at it, if you love gaming with out all of the hassle of disc swapping to play multiple games, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything else on the planet that offers you the freedom you get from the OnLive gaming platform.

Brag Clip Video:

Brag Clips:
Think of this option as your proof of record. You ever make an awesome kill that you wished you could of recorded to show off to your friends or did you ever see a moment on a cut scene that really pulled you into the story? Well OnLive has you covered..! With the brag clips feature your only one click away from making the instance last a lifetime. When your playing a game on the MicroConsole all you have to do is press the record button on the front lower section of the OnLive controller and it will capture the last 10 seconds of what you just did. On the PC/MAC using the Xbox controller all you have to do is Press the QUIDE Button and the B Button at the same time to get the same results. Afterwards share your Brag Clips with your Facebook friends or OnLive buddies.

Social Voice Chat Done Right:
Well this section’s title is a bit misleading. Let me explain, the voice chatting option we have “now”, literally just got implemented via an automatic software update a week or so ago. To bring this all into context let’s go back just a bit. Last year when the console or should I say the software for PC and MAC your voice options where light to say it kindly. You couldn’t voice chat when on the main UI nor could you voice chat on any online games unless the actual PC title had the function already built into the game(s). Fast forward to today and anyone that’s been gaming via OnLive for some time now knows that this weeks latest update to the software has really been stepped up to an (almost) Xbox Live! status.

Voice features include:
– The ability to view live games as a spectator and chat “live” with the person playing the game as well as anyone else spectating the live game play feed.
– Full on Voiced Party Chat across the OnLive Platform – Example: someone in a game can voice chat with someone browsing the marketplace or even just chilling browsing your own personal game collection.
– You also have the option of jumping to multiple voice channels for example there’s the Party Chat Channel, Spectator Channel and/or Online Multi-player session going on.
– Finally the ability to talk live to “ALL” of the channels at the same time.! Crazy…right?

You can of course mute or kick anyone out of your party channel and other channels as well. The part that we really hope evolves in future is the automation of the different voice channels. Let’s say your playing a game and your chatting, then you get a party chat invite. If you except it, you’ll still be talking live in both the party chat and in your spectator game channel unless you open up your OnLive options screen to mute a specific channel you must do this for any changes to any channel.
So you might need to make sure your speaking to right people. Your given three channels for voice chat, The Game Channel, Spectate Channel for talking with anyone on the OnLive service with voice chat enabled and your own Party Chat.
I know, I know…I’m just nit picking. But having to many options without ease of use is pointless if it makes things difficult for the regular gamer to use. We think with proper feedback OnLive will continue to evolve the voice chat capabilities within the system.

“We’ve all been amazed at how much fun everyone’s had with the new social voice chat features that OnLive provides.”

Finishing up this review make sure to check out our UnBoxing and MicroConsole HDTV setup to get even more information on what you get in the box when you purchase or receive your OnLive MicroConsole.

Final thought:
OnLive is a game console at it’s heart. Though the games are all computer ports optimized for OnLive, we know that even in it’s current state OnLive can provide you with the same experience found on other platforms. The true things that make OnLive stand out is the price of entry, which is FREE and the fact that since you don’t get actual discs, you come out paying allot less for your gaming needs when compared to what’s out on the market right now. You owe it to yourself to download OnLive register for your FREE account and start trying out the available games on the system. All of the games support Keyboard/Mouse controls with many of the more current console ported games supporting the controller setup. Get it… Get it…. Get it..!
Take a look at these pictures we took during this wild adventure with OnLive.

“Old School Junkie wants to send a special thanks to OnLive for supporting our small and popular indie run site, hope we’ve mentioned as much as we could without writing up a ten page essay. We’re sure we must of forgotten a few things in this write up.”

Please let us know if you have any questions about the OnLive MicroConsole, PC software or PlayPack subscription plans and features. We’ll do our best to reply to all questions.

All in all, OnLive would make any gamer very happy. Tons of modern and classic games with unlimited playtime via the PlayPack subscription. With new game publishers jumping on bored, it’s only a matter of time before the consoles start to feel the squeeze of cloud based gaming. Little investment with high return is what OnLive has a head start in. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for OnLive and cloud based systems in as a whole.

So register with Old School Junkie to leave a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter and let us help you in getting OnLive into your gaming setup.



What are other gamers saying about OnLive?

Owner – Editor In Chief at OldSchoolJunkie.com
Jorge has been playing games for over two decades and remembers playing games on black and white televisions. He has been collecting home consoles and classic computers from Atari and Commodore and own almost every system released in the U.S. When it comes to retro gaming Jorge is the man to contact. Started writing a few years back on TheBitbag as well as the newly launched STFUandPlay website and has since launched his very retro site OldSchoolJunkie.com.

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