The long-awaited OnLive clients for iPad and other tablet devices are imminent. The iPad app is currently going through the approval process, and will appear any day soon. It’s looking good too. An OnLive viewer was released around six months ago, allowing you to watch other people play games using the cloud service, but soon you’ll be able to play your OnLive games on your mobile device. The new OnLive mobile client is free to download, and it comes bundled with a free game, LEGO Batman, which usually costs £15. When you download the client and use it to log onto your OnLive account (which is also free), LEGO Batman is been added to your OnLive games collection. You can play it on any OnLive platform, so it’s worth downloading the iPad app even if you never intend to use it.
OnLive is a new way of playing your games. Instead of installing them on your computer or putting a disc in your console, the software runs on a cloud server. You both buy and play your games through an OnLive application for your computer or mobile device, or on an internet-enabled micro console that connects to your HDTV. All the processing takes place on the server, with the action converted to video format and streamed to your Onlive browser. Obviously you need a decent internet connection, but the host machine’s system requirements are very low. You can play an OnLive game on a Mac that couldn’t hope to support it natively. For example, Batman: Arkham Asylum, reviewed in MacFormat 242, needs a 1.8GHz Intel processor and 2GB of RAM, with a 2.8GHz CPU and 4GB RAM recommended. Yet the OnLive version – which uses the Windows game’s code – can be played on any Intel Mac, or even on an iPad.
Several games in OnLive’s impressive and growing library have been reworked for the iPad client. For example, tower defence game Defense Grid uses a keyboard-and-mouse approach on a computer, but when you play on a mobile device, it automatically switches to touchscreen controls. You can place your towers with your fingers, and pinch/zoom gestures have been added, along with on-screen buttons. Popular cops-and-robbers adventure LA Noire is being revamped too, allowing you to play the entire game with gestures and touchscreen controls.
OnLive has also produced a controls overlay which developers can incorporate into their OnLive titles. This maps the joypad’s button configuration to the touchscreen. It can be turned off if you wish. The user experience on the iPad is identical to playing on a computer or the OnLive micro console, and because your saves are stored on the cloud server, you can switch from one platform to another, picking up where you left off. It’s early days yet, but to date, three or four games have been revamped with native touchscreen controls and around 25 make use of the overlay.
As well as the mobile client, OnLive has also released the OnLive Wireless Controller. This is essentially a Bluetooth version of the joypad bundled with the micro console, and works on any device with both Bluetooth and an OnLive client, including mobile platforms. This is great news for iPad gamers. As well as touch controls, you can also play your OnLive games using the joypad, with the iPad acting as a display.
The UK OnLive launch back in the Autumn was such a huge success they had to airlift in new servers, doubling the capacity of the UK service in just two weeks. Now there’s also a free playable OnLive client for the iPad, which comes bundled with a £15 game, there’s never been a better time to give it a blast.