Latest Show

Cast 103 (Sep 14)

Play Latest Show button Download show now button Subscribe to FrequencyCast in iTunes button Podcast RSS Feed button
Show News!

We don't send spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

FrequencyCast RSS Feed FrequencyCast on Twitter FrequencyCast on Facebook

 

OnLive Gaming Service Reviewed

Forget the traditional games console - the future is cloud-based gaming, at least according to OnLive. The OnLive service launched in the UK in September, and we've reviewed the offering.

Listen to FrequencyCast Show 68 - OnLive Games Service Explored

Play Show button Download show now button Subscribe to FrequencyCast in iTunes

 

Hands-on with OnLive Gaming:

Here's our transcript of our OnLive Gaming Review from Show 68...

Pete:

Right, onto the main part of the show, Carl. Now, a few of you have been in touch asking about this one - the first one out of the trap was Matt Findlay.

Carl:

On our Facebook page, and he says: "Can you do a feature on the new gaming service called OnLive, which is now up and running in the UK, as I feel this could be a life-changing advancement." I don't think so! - when it comes to gaming technology ... really?

Pete:

Well, this OnLive is actually something a little bit different, and if you're into your gaming, or to be fair, even if you're only into casual gaming, this actually makes a pretty good alternative to some of the more regular consoles.

Carl:

So there's the PS3, there's the Xbox, and of course the ever-faithful Wii.

Pete:

Well, the difference with this one is all of the work, all of the gaming stuff, is actually on a server at their end.

Carl:

What - so it's more like an arcade then, yeah? - you go into Amusements online?

Pete:

Yeah, something along those lines. It's actually called cloud computing. Now, you can use this service on a PC or on a Mac, or with this dedicated control box that you can get, and the beauty is, the spec of your machine doesn't actually matter, because it's all being run on their service. Now, the advantage here is, no queuing for your games, no massive downloads. When the game needs patching, it's patched once at their end - you don't need to download loads of patches, and you don't need expensive game-playing hardware. The only factor is actually the speed of the broadband that does make a difference. Now, the service recommends you have at least two megabits per second as your download speed, but it's actually suggesting up to five megabits will give you the best experience.

Carl:

And how much do you pay for this great experience? Is there a little box on the side of your computer - put your coins in here?

Pete:

They've actually really thought this through. Now, this service is actually free. If you want to play it on your Mac and on your PC, signing up to the service is free, and from that you can watch demos and various trailers and the like, and you also get free demo play, typically something like 30 minutes of a game play, before you have to put in any kind of payment. They've actually sorted out a very good idea for the payment method. Now, rather than buying the game and owning the disc, you can either rent it in its entirety for life, or you can rent it for just a three-day or a five-day pass.

Carl:

So hold on a minute - this is like Blockbusters online, isn't it?

Pete:

The other thing you can do is sign up to what they call the Play Pack, which for £6.99 a month gives you access to a fairly hefty range of games.

Carl:

So about £7, loads of games, as opposed to what - £30 for one game?

Pete:

Not a bad little system.

Carl:

I'm still not convinced we need it. Is the game play just as good as the Wii and Xbox and things like that? Or are we talking about some sort of old-fashioned Space Invaders-style graphics have come back?

Pete:

Time to find out - we're about to stop the recording, and pick it up again a little bit later in my lounge.

Right, hold your hand out.

Carl:

Oh hello - this is a bit like that, what's that TV service - the Mac one with the little box?

Pete:

Apple TV.

Carl:

Yeah, you're right - you're quite good at this, aren't you? This is small. It's actually quite sleek, isn't it? It's quite heavy. I like the black finish to it. Does it only come in one colour?

OnLive Games Console
OnLive Games Console

Pete:

It does. I'd say that's about the size of a three-and-a-quarter inch hard drive. It's sort of smaller than a paperback, isn't it?

Carl:

Oh yeah, definitely, yes. And it's got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight sockets on it.

Pete:

Let me just run through the sockets - two USB sockets on the front; on the back you have a HDMI socket; an AV socket, which is used to connect to the controller; an audio socket; optical audio; an Ethernet socket as well as a power socket.

OnLive Games Console Connectors
OnLive Games Console

Carl:

It's not very thick at all either, it's only about a centimetre high, isn't it? - maybe that's two centimetres.

Pete:

Indeed. Right, let me hand you the controller.

Carl:

This looks like a PS3 controller. We've got two analogue joysticks there; we've got X Y A B shuttle thingumybobs there; and you've got two trigger buttons on the front side. This is very similar to the layout of the PS3, but very slick.

OnLive Games Console Controller
OnLive Games Controller

Pete:

Yeah, it's a nice little controller. It is wireless. It does have a USB connector, which you use for synching up to the controller in the first place, otherwise it is a completely wireless device. Right, let's get going. Just talk me through what we have on the screen, Carl.

Carl:

Oh right, okay - so we've got, around the outer screen, we have lots of images of game play, it looks like, and then in the centre there, there are nine squares: Arena, Profile, Marketplace, My Games, Friends, Brag Clips? - don't know what they are; Last Played, Showcase, Three New - oh, I guess that's three new games; and in the centre there you've got the logo, and it's all very slick. I like the way this powers up.

Pete:

Okay, first of all, Profile is where you set up your user account; My Games is the games that you've purchased; Friends is your online friends, and the Games Last Played. Now, what we're going to do is, we're going to go into Marketplace, and see how easy it is to start playing a game. So I select Marketplace, and press A.

Carl:

Okay, so it says there: "Just for you, UK - get your first game for only £1" - so there's a good starting price there. It's coming up with a load of other adverts on the top box, but that's not too distracting.

Pete:

Okay, well I'm going to go into genre. Now Carl, we've got some choices now. We have Action, Adventure, Casual, Puzzle, Indie, Family, Racing, Role Play, Shooter, Simulation, Sports or Strategy. Take your pick.

OnLive Main Screen
OnLive's Main Screen

Carl:

No, I'll do a racing, actually.

Pete:

Right, so it's now given me a list of all the games that we've got. I'm actually going to suggest this one here, DiRT 2, because I was playing this earlier, and it's not a bad one to get you started. Are you ready for a bit of racing?

Carl:

Always - hurry up! I'm in a hurry.

Pete:

So we have an option for a 30-minute free trial here, or I can buy the game for £9.99, or rent it for three days for £2.99. But let's just go into the free trial. Okay, you're off Carl - are you ready?

Carl:

Yeah - here I go. Woowee! Woah, woah! Come on, come on, come on! Come on - you didn't need to do that; come on!

Pete:

Yeah, you're really good at this, aren't you?

Carl:

I found the walls - there's the walls. I'm almost in the crowd there. That's superb - oh, here I go. Oh, it's good! I'm surprised this thing's still going, the poor little thing. Oh, there's a puddle! Let's try the puddle, the puddle looks fun! Waaay! Oh, look at the water splash on that - good graphics! Ooh - she's nice, hold on ... let me just stop here for a minute. What's her name?

It is very responsive, actually. I can see why they give you fine tuning, so you can actually make it respond to your desire, as it were, because this is actually quite crazy, how responsive it is. It's tiny little taps to the joystick to give yourself ... I'm getting the hang of it now.

OnLive Games Console Controller
OnLive Games Controller

Pete:

Right, slight change of scene - we've just loaded up Borderlands. So just describe what you're doing now with the controls there?

Carl:

Well, I can move around, left and right. I can change my view, so I can move around to look up or down. Okay, so it's a shoot 'em up, here we go - we're having real fun now! Okay, so I can use things to hide behind, it's quite good. The reload seems to be something I'm not very good at at the moment, but it's good - I like it.

Pete:

Fancy trying something different?

Carl:

No, I'm shooting this guy now.

Pete:

You're out of ammo, my friend.

Carl:

Oh, that's no good, is it? I'm going to die! Let's just leave it at that.

Pete:

Right, we've given up with the shoot 'em up, and we've now loaded a classic here - Lego Batman. How are you getting on with this one?

Carl:

Oh, this is far better. I like this - hold on a minute, Robin's getting beaten up - let me go and help him. I love this Lego stuff; this is just great, isn't it?

Pete:

B to thump them.

Carl:

B to thump them - oh right. Thanks for telling me that was the wrong button, okay. Hide behind Robin - come here, B, B, B, B, B - there you are, it goes again. I like the rats running round - that's really awesome.

Pete:

You're on a white circle, and it says, "Press B to pull the lever".

OnLive Games Console Controller
OnLive Games Controller

Carl:

B to pull the lever, here I go. I do like the Lego stuff - this is just so comical. I'm going in there, I don't know what I'm doing in here.

Pete:

Hold B.

Carl:

Hold B? - will do.

Pete:

Let me take over, go on - I want a quick go. I want to show you something here. Right, I now need to use my grappling hook.

Carl:

You've done this before.

Pete:

I have done this before.

Carl:

There you go, with your grappling hook. Now the interesting thing is, can I get additional controllers for this?

Pete:

You can indeed. It supports up to four. A to jump up - right, okay, I'm on a balcony now. Now, this is a cool bit, right. I'm going to go round here, and I can use my batter ram now. I target the enemy there - got him!

Carl:

Nice!

Pete:

Now, I'm going to press that button there - what's that?

Carl:

It looks like a record button.

Pete:

It is, and you'll see why in a minute. So what do you think? - fairly smooth game play, no judders, no lag?

Carl:

No judders, no lag - just like on the Nintendo Wii really. It's as if you are just playing your normal gaming console. Excellent graphics - I love the way you don't have to go out and buy things as well.

Pete:

There you go - the other good thing about this is, you can save your game, go and play on a PC, or come back to this, or unplug this and go and plug it into somebody else's telly. This is storing everything on the cloud.

Carl:

Now, do you know what? - I didn't think I'd say this, but I think this is the future of gaming.

Pete:

It hasn't quite finished yet, though. Let me just get you back to the main screen. First of all, I should tell you it also supports voice chat, so you can do a headset, so while you're playing you can talk to other multiplayer users. Solo play or multiplayer game, obviously, but this is the clever bit: I'm going to get back to the main screen here. Now, if I look in Brag Clips ...

Carl:

Oh right - yeah, I remember Brag Clips.

OnLive Games Console Controller
OnLive Games Controller

Pete:

Right, if I press play on this, does this look familiar?

Carl:

Good grief! - you've recorded your game play! So you can brag to other online users, I'm guessing, and let them see your game play?

Pete:

What it does is, it records a twelve-second snip of what you were doing. Now, what I can do is, I scroll down to here, share to Facebook.

Carl:

So that's straight to Facebook, and you can share your proud moment with people on Facebook. I'm not too sure about that bit. But the rest of it, I love.

Pete:

Now, this is the really really cool bit. Let's come out of that, back to the main menu. Here, Arena - this is nice.

Carl:

Well, it seems to be a screen full of lots of games on play?

Pete:

What we're actually looking at is people playing games now, five-by-five, twenty-five picture-in-picture-type games. See, right in the middle there's a guy parachuting. If I were to click on that ... we're watching a guy called Alex 24T, voicechat-enabled listen only - he's flying a parachute, yeah? This is actually him playing in real time, from his computer or console, now, and if we want, see there's one other spectator, we could chat to him as he's playing, or we can rate him, jeers or cheers.

OnLive Games Console Controller
OnLive Games Controller

Carl:

I love the way you zoom in and out of each game.

Pete:

Here we go, this is Flatout 2; Chocomadbrain is driving a Chernobyl lorry, by the looks of it.

Carl:

It looks like a smash 'em up, it's like a stock car race gone wrong. What else is this? - oh, let's try that one there, with Batman. That's a different Batman though, that's not the Lego version.

Pete:

Yep, this is a proper Batman, first-person job. Not bad graphics - it looks a bit superimposed actually, though. I'm not sure the graphics are terribly good. This is Batman Arkham Asylum.

Carl:

Well, I'm endlessly impressed. I only have one question, and this may ruin the, me being impressed. How much is all this costing me?

Pete:

To look around and to actually use the service is completely free. Playing a game, you can go for the rental option as we were talking about earlier, or you can buy the game outright. If you want the controller, £70.

Carl:

No - it feels more expensive than that. This feels like it should be at least £120 for the whole package.

Pete:

I think what they're doing is, they're making it nice and cheap to make it entry level, so people are keen to go out and buy one of these. It connects by Ethernet. The slightly frustrating thing is, it doesn't connect direct to Wi-Fi, so you either need an Ethernet cable to your router, or you need one of those home plugs that uses the home's mains wiring.

Carl:

Right, okay; but I am impressed. This is far better than I thought it would be.

Pete:

So there you go - £70 for the newest games console out there, the OnLive. What we'll do is, we'll put a full-length version of what we've just been playing with up on our site, if you're interested, as well as links to Carl crashing a car.

Carl:

Do you know what? - that wasn't that bad after all. I kind of enjoyed it. I think that might be the future of gaming, and to me actually, it makes more sense that you buy all your games online, as opposed to going down the shops. It's a bit of an antiquated system really, going shopping for a gamer, isn't it?

Bonus Material: Our Full OnLive Review (15 mins)

Play Show button Download show now button

 

The Transcript of Show 68 continues here: Show 68 Transcript Part 2

 

More information:

 

Share This Page:

facebook twitter digg stumble technorati