First impressions of BT’s new OnLive service

I must be honest the release of the new OnLive service had caught me by surprise. I hadn’t heard much of the usual buzz or fanfare that goes with such launches; maybe I just had my head in the sand.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, I know similar services were running in the states with mixed success, but it’s such a bold move that I couldn’t wait to give it a try out, cloud computing has been the fashionable trend for a long time now, but could it really translate into a distributed server side gaming system?

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised, after a couple of false starts, namely desync and disconnect errors The app connected. The service currently has an eclectic mix of free games to try out ranging from shooters like Fear 2 and Bioshock to RPG’s like Titan Quest and platformers like Prince of Persia.

The app is lightweight, only using about 20% cpu and absolutely minimal ram whilst running Bioshock, and the games are playable. The hardest thing to contend with is the input lag, I can see they’ve made real efforts to reduce this but it is there, however after about 20 mins play I did find myself naturally compensating for it.

The decent performance does come at a graphical price however; newer games such as Bioshock are limited to 1280 x 728 and when theres a lot of action or movement on screen you can see phasing and softening effects (a by-product of the heavy compression used to stream the service). If graphics really bother you then at the moment this service isn’t for you.

Considering it’s free, you don’t need to register a credit card and most importantly you have to actively subscribe if you want to continue using the service when the three month trial runs out (no forgetting to cancel and being billed); whats there to loose?

EDIT – I should point out that BT and OnLive are actually separate companies and that BT is simply offering it’s customers a 3 month trial.

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