We've been quite excited about the potential of streaming-video game service OnLive, which forgoes any physical software or system/graphics needs and lets players play games on remote servers via streaming video. The effect is largely seamless, and for some games like adventures it's a fantastic cloud-based substitute for owning an expensive gaming laptop. The only drawback was price: OnLive's games not only cost money, but the OnLive service also levied a subscription fee.
When it comes to graphics performance in OS X, Apple has taken the conservative approach and focused on compatibility and stability in drivers instead of including the cutting-edge and highly tweaked drivers and graphics systems that bring the best quality to performance-related applications like games.
This compatibility-based approach may be good for productivity applications to prevent potential crashes, but has kept Apple behind when it comes to gaming performance. For awhile this was not an issue, but the recent release of Valve's "Steam" client for the Mac along with a few other gaming titles have not only … Read more
Update, July 7: This post has been updated to include additional games.
It's time to add a new selection of entries to our list of PC games well-suited for Netbooks. Especially as we expect to see many of these low-cost, low-power laptops in the hands of students during the back-to-school season, it's important to have a little action/RPG/adventure/puzzle break handy when one gets tired of taking lecture notes.
As usual, many of these entries are re-releases of classic games, originally available when even high-end computer hardware was at best comparable with today's entry-level systems. Online services such as Good Old Games and Steam are great resources for these.
One important exception is the new online gaming service OnLive, which takes current high-end PC games, renders the 3D graphics remotely, then streams you the video as you play. It sounds like a crazy idea, but it actually works pretty well, even on Netbooks. Check out our extensive hands-on look at OnLive here.
The much-hyped OnLive PC gaming service has soft-launched to a limited preview audience, and we've spent the past several days putting the streaming service through its paces. OnLive allows nearly any laptop or desktop to play high-end PC games, by offloading the CPU and GPU-intensive tasks of actually running the game software to a remote render farm, then beaming the gameplay back to you as a streaming video.
As unlikely as that scenario sounds, in practice the system actually works quite well, at least at these initial stages. The game selection is decent, the hardware requirements are very flexible, and the overall image quality and gameplay experience runs from acceptable to very good. The big question mark in OnLive's future is how well the system will scale for a mass audience.
For high-end PC gamers, OnLive won't replace your turbocharged, water-cooled quad-GPU gaming rig, and the insane screen resolutions it can pump out (OnLive is currently limited to 1,280x720 pixels), but for casual gamers who are interested in sampling the latest PC games, there's a lot of promise here.
Dan: My first hands-on experience with OnLive at the 2009 Game Developers Conference was a mixed bag. The online gaming service felt like an overly ambitious idea that was sluggish in execution, with plenty of unanswered questions about its technology and business model.
The final version of OnLive is finally, well, live, and Rich Brown and I have spent the past several days testing it across a wide range of laptop and desktop computers, with overall very satisfying results.
The main interface is very widgetlike, almost easier to navigate with a game pad than a mouse. One of OnLive's only onerous requirements is a hard-wired Internet connection, and the software wouldn't even install on a Wi-Fi network (OnLive says good-quality Wi-Fi connections can theoretically work, and may be implemented in the future).
The built-in game store offers recent games such as Splinter Cell: Conviction and Borderlands, alongside a handful of casual games, including World of Goo. Demos give you time-limited access to the full games, and paid access options vary by game, but generally offer three-to-five-day access for a few dollars, or the full game at its current retail price (up to $59.99). … Read more
That includes the original Call of Duty and its two expansion packs, United Offensive and World at War. You also get Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Given that the latter sells for $29.99 all by itself, it's like getting four bonus games free.
Other deals I'd definitely check out:Star Trek Online for $16.99 … Read more
Apple's hardware is by no means inferior to the offerings from other manufacturers, and the OS capabilities are definitely there for high throughput calculations. Despite this, gaming on the Mac has had relatively lackluster performance, as was exemplified in the release of Steam for the Mac. While titles are increasingly being developed for the platform, the performance of various games can sometimes be half that of the same title running on similar hardware in Windows.… Read more
In the past, Mac gamers have had to deal both with delayed releases and poorly ported games on the Mac platform. With game developers using Windows-optimized code and not putting much effort into the Mac ports (at times contracting with other companies to do the Mac version), game titles either have not made it to the Mac, or have shown poor performance when running on the Mac. The Mac has been regarded by many companies as a second-tier gaming platform, but it appears that sentiment is changing.… Read more
The game Portal is regarded by many to be one of the best of all time. GameSpot awarded it a 9.0 and an Editors' Choice. IGN called it "quirky, clever, polished, and presented with a spark of a subtly evil humor."
Originally part of Valve's The Orange Box bundle, then later a $20 standalone game, Portal is now available absolutely free. And not just for PCs, but also for Macs. (Speaking of which, be sure to check out Rich Brown's recent hands-on testing of Portal on four different Mac systems.)
The one and only string … Read more
Would you ask your entire Facebook friend base this question:
"Do these jeans make me look fat?"
I wouldn't. At seven months pregnant, everything makes me look fat. But I digress.
Diesel stores in Spain are using something called the Diesel Cam to let people take photos of themselves in potential purchases and upload them over Facebook Connect to crowdsource whether they are worthy of Diesel's hefty price tag.
I can see this going all kinds of wrong.
First off, if you ask me what I think of those jeans, I'll tell you. Publicly. On … Read more