Onlive Beta Review – First Look

Gaming in the Cloud? We were skeptical at first, but when we jumped into Onlive we saw much more. When we first looked at what this service had to offer, we were expecting a certain project like this to take place. We just had to test it out.

When you join Onlive, you install a small application on your computer which enables you to play newly released games via an interactive video interface. Yup you heard it! No more high end computers but you do need is just a good internet connection of 5 MB/s or more. Lets list the requirements from the Onlive site below:

  • PC: Windows® 7 or Vista (32 or 64-bit) or XP (32-bit)
  • Mac: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
  • Processor: Dual-core CPU
  • Screen Resolution: 1280×720
  • Internet Connection: 5 Mbps located inside the contiguous United States (wired connection required)

We did all that, tried and tested on different computers and came up with interesting results. We had several games on Onlive. Most of them are first person or third person point of view games.


The sounds clarity was good and the video quality is well defined. The audio/video and gameplay is mostly affected by the speed of your current connection to the internet. For example, if your connection is unstable then your video will be choppy. Although the sound was good, it certainly was not Dolby Digital, just standard stereo. The video is rated as HD (High Definition) by the Onlive service, which isn’t that far off as long as you have a good enough connection.

The animation and game play frame rate has been stable for most part.


All this is a great concept but is deplored by the low reaction time due to latency issues. This caused a little annoyance during the gameplay even when we tried using a better mouse and a faster computer. You don’t feel totally in control of the character you are playing. However, this is just the beta version and what is appreciable is the concept – which is innovative. Onlive has a section on their technical FAQ that discusses latency on their service and what to do if you do experience unnecessary latency.


For the most part the controls are the same as all of the games PC counterparts. Except for the fact that we tried to play Assassins Creed II, and were stuck in the tutorial because it would ask us to press certain actions without telling us the actual key to press. Now we aren’t sure if that is the games fault or Onlive, but the issue should definitely be addressed due to the fact that we do not have the game manuals for each game that we purchase on Onlive.


The multiplayer aspect of Onlive was an entertaining experience. We noticed that the population in the multiplayer servers was fairly low. After trying out Unreal Tournament III, we were surprised at how well it performed despite the latency issue. The character movement was smooth and shots effectively landed on mobile targets. However, hardcore multiplayer gamers may be disappointed due to the latency and reaction time.



Onlive also allows you to create a profile along with a friends list, spectate other players, brag 10 seconds of your prominent gaming moments to other gamers, buy a PlayPass to the games using its Market Place option and find out what games will be available in the future. PlayPasses are priced at competitive market rates depending on one of the three pass durations – 3 day, 5 day or Full. For example, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 costs $29.99, $8.99 and $4.99 for Full, 5 day and 3 day PlayPasses respectively. Here are some Hi-Res pictures of different sections of Onlive below:



Brag Clip


Our overall experience with Onlive has been positive and we would recommend it to casual gamers who don’t have access to high end gaming rigs. For now, hardcore gamers can enjoy their high end machines but this innovative system might have the potential to grab their attention. It is a great concept which can potentially revolutionize gaming. But remember this is still the beta, we will re-visit Onlive as they improve the service.

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Learn more the author of this post:

Fahad Ahmad
Born in Nashville, TN but raised in Pakistan. Currently a Mechanical Engineering Student at Purdue University. Gadgets and Technology are my two gods.