[OnLive] Darksiders and Video Compression

I had a few free days earlier this week, so I fired up OnLive and dove into Darksiders. I thought it fitting since the apocalypse was supposed to be this past weekend and you play in a post-apocalyptic world.

First off, I like Yahtzee’s explanation of the game in his Zero Punctuation review. He calls the game a Frankenstein of popular games from the past 5 years, notably The Legend of Zelda and God of War, a comparison with which I agree. The guys at Penny Arcade illustrate the comparison quite fairly:

I’m finishing up the fourth dungeon right now and my upgrades have been a boomerang, power glove, a horse, and a hookshot — ripping off Zelda to the umpteenth degree. But I don’t mind since the game is fun.

What has been bothering me though, is not related to the game itself, but the platform. Just take a look at these two videos of the introduction sequence to the game. The first is played via OnLive and the second is from the PC version of the game.

If you play both of the videos, it’s easy to see that the second video is much more crisp than the first video. To be fair, this is played on two completely different systems, but my own experience in the video quality is akin to that in the first video. Knowing that the quality could be as good as it is in the second video is disheartening. It may just be me, but I think the compression artifacts are worse in the yellow-orange-red spectrum than in the others, which is why I picked these videos where War goes into his Chaos form, transforming into a firey demon.

Compression aside, I’m still impressed with OnLive and the fact that the company is still going strong. I don’t have to buy a console or upgrade my computer, I don’t have to download the game, and when I have the bandwidth, the game plays smoothly.

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