E3 2011: OnLive for Tablets Hands On

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OnLive is coming to tablets, and for our money, that news will have the most direct impact on tablet gaming more than any other at E3.

OnLiveFor those not familiar, OnLive is a cloud gaming system that renders and seamlessly streams high-end PC games remotely to televisions through an OnLive console/receiver and computers. Users can play the games as if they are running locally, with little to no noticeable lag. It skirts past PC gaming requirements to deliver full PC gaming to the masses.

And soon it will be available for iOS and Android.

I spent some time at E3 with OnLive and their new app, which OnLive claims will be available this fall (no specific date was announced), running on the iPad 2. I came away very impressed with its potential.

Hands On OnLive
OnLive only had a limited selection of games available, and I only got a chance to play the full version of Virtua Tennis as it had the simplest touch controls. The game, while not a beast by PC standards, certainly exceeds anything available for the iPad in terms of computing resources. Of course, I was able to play it on the iPad because it was running off a remote server, and not the actual iPad hardware.

During my brief time with the game, I experienced no lag, the connection remained steady, and the game played exceptionally well (because the game is streaming, the iPad or any OnLive device must remain connected over Wi-Fi). I wasn’t a fan of the on-screen touch pad as I like the real feedback of physical buttons, but OnLive has that covered with a universal OnLive wireless controller that will work with all games. It will connect to tablets via Bluetooth or USB were available. Not all games will support the onscreen touchpad – games that are more complicated will require a remote.

The Best Part
The best part of OnLive for tablets is that the app will be free (there is currently a free OnLive app in the App Store that allows users to view game sessions played over OnLive, but not actually participate). Games will cost money, but users can demo any game for a half hour free of charge. There is also a subscription service available for access to all games. Games are purchased through the OnLive service.

OnLiveOnLive claims that the app brings “virtually all” OnLive games to the iPad. The company currently supports many AAA titles, which includes the soon-to-be-released Duke Nukem Forever, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and F.E.A.R. 3. The only limits to which games will be available lie within publisher agreements. As far as the technology is concerned, the iOS and Android apps can run all the OnLive games.

OnLive also added a handful of gamer-friendly features, including two-way and multi-player chat that players can segment by squad for team-based game play. The chat function will be enabled over Bluetooth headsets. Also, players using the iOS or Android app can compete with any other OnLive gamer, be they playing on PC, Mac, or on their HDTV.

OnLive did not disclose which Android devices the app will be available for, or any Android version requirements. The company did claim it will ship on future HTC tablets, and displayed a demo on the HTC Flyer. They also demoed OnLive on the Motorola Xoom.

Stay Tuned
TabletPCReview will be following OnLive closely and will have a full review of the service as soon as it ships. Right now, we’re giddy over the chance to actually play full PC games on our tablets, with a proper controller no less.




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