Sunday, 18 December 2011

Hands on: Arkham City (OnLive Version)

Recently I decided to sign up to OnLive, a games-on-demand service that allows gamers to play a selection of titles on their computers, iPhone's and Androids without having to download the game onto their platform. A subscription fee can be paid monthly to enjoy the games library, or players can choose to pay a one off charge for their chosen game.

I decided to try out the beginning of Batman's Arkham City. OnLive allows players to sample up to 30 minutes of the beginning of a game, which I was grateful of in Arkham City. It's an excellent game, and the beginning shows so much promise.

However, this isn't just a normal hands-on review of me demo-ing a section of a game, for I wanted to share how I felt this game performed on OnLive, rather than my usual console of choice-the Xbox 360.
At the beginning, I was rather impressed at how quick the game loaded in. I did not have to wait around for any downloads, and within seconds of pressing the play button, I was straight into the game and watching the first cut-scene.

Now my laptop is a few years old now, so I did not expect the quality to be as top-notch as it is on my large HD television screen. However, the screen still displays in HD, so I guess my expectations were still a little high. Unfortunately though, I found my experience of playing Arkham City a tad frustrating. Firstly, the graphics weren't that crisp for me. The graphics are down-graded quite significantly when a dip in the internet occurs, and although I actually have an excellent connection (which I was sitting right next to at the time), OnLive seemed to struggle quite regularly with keeping up. Therefore, text was often rather blurry, and the picture regularly pixelates and blurs. When it did stabilise though, it looked brilliant, but still, comparing it to my copy of Arkham City on the Xbox, the Xbox 360 version still looked a lot crisper to me.

So in short, OnLive is great, if you have an excellent laptop with high HD and an excellent internet connection. If it's a little older, well, it's probably better to give it a go through your console instead. However, I did get to play a bit of it on an iPhone, and was extremely impressed by it's capabilities and gameplay, so I'd strongly give a demo or two a go if you're an iPhone user.
As for the gameplay itself, this trial version of Arkham City begun with Bruce Wayne escaping prison. This section featured plenty of combat with the in-mates and the Penguin, which felt incredibly fluid, and was a joy to try out. Regular counter attacks appear when enemies attempt to deal a punch, which, if timed correctly, can lead to some devastating effects on the antagonists. 

After Bruce has broken out of prison, it's time to don the Bat-suit and become Batman. This is where I thought the game steps up a notch. As Batman, players can free-roam Arkham City by running, climbing, gliding and zip-lining amongst and below the roof-tops. There are plenty of enemies to fight along the way, and secrets if you are wishing to seek these out. 

This 30 minute trial also introduced me to Catwoman, and allowed me to guide her through a safe-break. Again, there are plenty of enemies to punch and whip your way through, and I found that Catwoman's agile combat felt just as fluid as Batman's. So far, so good.

After Catwoman's stint is over, it's back to business for the Caped Crusader. More brawls ensued before my 30 minute trial time was over. Despite the frustrations of a frequently blurred screen, the gameplay of Arkham City on OnLive was really enjoyable. I'd still take the Xbox 360 version over it for now though.

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