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OnLive review

Cloud gaming has arrived in the UK, but can our infrastructure make the most of it?

Onlive - running on a pc


  • Equipment updates a thing of the past
  • No need for updates or file downloads
  • Subscription access to games is an interesting model
  • Lag not the factor we feared it would be


  • The latency does affect fast paced games
  • Catalogue is not quite comprehensive enough
  • Graphics can sometimes look a little muddy
  • You need a decent quality, robust connection

After over a year of forcing North Americans to do the guinea pig work for us, OnLive has finally granted Great Britain access to its ambitious cloud gaming service. The platform could, in theory at least, pave the way for how we consume and play videogames in the future.

The firm says its on-demand service is now more robust thanks to the work of the good old US of A, but can it really compete with the likes of PS3 and Xbox 360? More importantly, can the UK's broadband architecture cope with OnLive's lofty demands?

OnLive works rather differently to a traditional games console stuffed full of various high-end components and screeching heat fans, streaming all of the actual computing involved in your game of, say, Splinter Cell to one of the company's faraway servers, which it says it upgrades every month with the latest graphics cards and RAM sticks.

Basically, you're playing a game remotely via the internet. When you aim your silenced pistol at a nasty henchman's bonce and pull the trigger, the command is sent over to OnLive's server den, which does all the computer work and then sends back the result of your gunshot via images down your broadband pipe.

OnLive - devices don't necessarily need as much under the hood

The advantage of farming out the hardware bit is that you can run OnLive's library of titles on a number of different devices that would normally never be able to the cope with that calibre of game without 300 quid's worth of heatsink strapped to their sides.

PCs, Android tablets and iPads all support the OnLive platform, with the latter even supporting custom touch interfaces for some games, such as Ubisoft's excellent god sim From Dust. There's also a dedicated Games System, which you can buy to play the service on your TV.

Check out our Hands on: OnLive video to see what we think about the service: