By John Walker on December 8th, 2011 at 4:18 pm.
I’m very late to the OnLive party. Cos I’ve got a PC that can play the games just fine, so, well, I’ve not yet taken the time. And then I saw news that they’ve now got it working on smart phones. I can play PC games on my phone? On my phone? And indeed I can. PC gaming is getting a lot more complicated. It’s getting a lot more complicated to know if it’s even PC gaming any more.
Somewhere there’s a PC chugging out the game for me, and I’m streaming it. It’s PC gaming. Because as impressive as my new Android phone might be, it certainly can’t play Lego Batman, which I just got given for free, just for downloading the free OnLive app. You’ll get it too, but I’m not sure for how long the offer lasts.
Get the app on your iPhone or Android (or Kindle Future-o-thing if you’re in the States where technology has evolved to such a point where such a thing can exist – here we still have to rub two trees together), and a few minutes later an email appears saying the (fantastic) Lego Batman is in your account. Is that true? I’m going to check now…
I think there’s still optimising to be done. The first game I tried was the very undemanding Bastion, and it was pretty chuggy. Admittedly I’m on a g wireless, not n, so it’s less than ideal, but it’s connected at 10GB and that should be enough. And perhaps more problematic, the response to the menu buttons on the Galaxy Nexus I’ve just bought was abysmal. Trying to quit out took forever, and was painfully hit and miss. However, the in-game controls, super-imposed over the imagine of the game work brilliantly. Go figure.
Those controls are odd. Trying to emulate a 360 controller, there are an awful lot of them – 8 or so. Which is a lot of on-screen clutter. Especially since each needs a text definition, so you’ve got “Switch character / Use” and the like ever-printed on top of the game. However, the “analogue stick” is absolutely brilliant, responding to thumb movements exquisitely well. The other buttons, unfortunately, need to be pretty small, and my man-thumbs make it feel a little unwieldy. I cannot imagine how difficult this would be to use on the significantly smaller iPhone screen.
You can certainly play games like it. It’s not entirely comfortable, but it definitely works, and with either improved streaming at their end, or improved wireless at mine, I can see it being a viable way to play games that I can’t… oh wait no, I’ll just play them on my giant widescreen monitor via my PC, thanks. The chances of encountering a wifi outside of my house that’s strong enough to handle game playing doesn’t seem to realistic at this point, however. Which does make me wonder if this is magical tech from a future we’ve yet to reach. When super-broadband is rolled out and commonplace, and if the UK telcos and government ever stop fannying around and release the 4G networks, we’ll be able to enjoy PC gaming on our flipping phones. In fact, you already can! I’m just not sure it’s really practical or preferable just yet.