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

Onlive - running on a pc

Now, so far you're probably thinking this all sounds like a nice idea, but will it actually work on your old BT Broadband connection? The answer is: probably. On a 50Mb Virgin connection, the OnLive technology really is impressive – we played various online sessions of first-person shooter Homefront and almost forgot we weren't holding a PlayStation 3 controller.

On the right connection, games start up quicker than you'd be able to walk to the television and fiddle with a DVD, and OnLive really starts to feel like the future of gaming.

OnLive running on a pc

However, on the less speedy 3Mb connections that most of the country has to make do with, the 2011 on-demand gaming scene can be a completely different experience (if your old pipe's good enough to connect in the first place, that is).

Those lower down the broadband chain might find that while less reaction-speed-reliant games such as Lego Batman work fine, titles in the vein of Assassin's Creed that require quick movements of the analogue sticks to keep the camera pointing in the right direction feel sluggish. It's a bit like playing when you haven't activated Game Mode on your brand new 400Hz OLED TV.

OnLive home

Outside of lightning-quick connections, there's also a noticeable – but not huge – drop in picture quality compared to the lush visuals outputted by the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

At times, graphics don't look as crisp as their console counterparts, and some distortion can also be apparent when your broadband throws a wobbly, especially on HD televisions. Lower-resolution PC monitors seem to hide this better.

The good news if you have to make do with a single-figure connection is that OnLive includes a five-minute drop-out feature that means you've still got a chance of rescuing your game if your connection drops.

With such a pioneering platform, it's probably acceptable that not everyone's going to get perfect service from the off, and it's certainly likely to improve along with Britain's internet infrastructure.

If you're worried your connection might not be up for the job of efficiently streaming a 16-man Unreal deathmatch from 100 miles away, the beauty is it won't cost you a thing to try. OnLive is free to sign up for and you can easily jump on and have a go on a few game trials on your PC or Mac.