OnLive offers exclusive 30 minute trial of Red Faction: Armageddon

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Photo credit: Red Faction

I just got finished playing a demo of the upcoming game, Red Faction: Armageddon. In case you haven't heard of it, this is a 3rd person shooter set on Mars. It's the third or fourth game in the Red Faction series, and I'd call it a mid-tier game. It's got AAA production values, but probably won't hit the kinds of numbers that a Call of Duty or a Halo title is expected to hit.

That said, it was a lot of fun and well worth checking out. So where do you download it? Well, you can't. And you don't have to. This demo for the PC version is only available on OnLive, the streaming game service. In theory you just click this link and you'll be playing in no time. I say "in theory" because if you don't have a (free) OnLive account you'll first have to set one up, and if you're at work the corporate firewall might block the service (mine does). But for me, an existing OnLive member, sitting at home (I'm writing this Thursday evening), it was no more than 5 minutes from the time I sat down at the PC to when I was in-game, playing. Probably closer to 3 minutes. And that's the beauty of OnLive.

The ugly part of OnLive came about 10 minutes later when my 25/25 Mbps FiOS connection decided to drop to a 4/2 Mbps connection (according to internetfrog.com) for about 5 minutes, and OnLine booted me out of the service due to high latency. I can't really blame OnLive for this, but it's a concern for anyone thinking about using the service as a main source of gaming. You're extremely dependent on have a fast, steady internet connection. (After banging out the first draft of this post I went back and played through the demo without a hitch.)

Anyway, so why am I telling you all this? Well, it's something of a coup for OnLive. You can't download a PC demo of Red Faction: Armageddon yet, nor are PS3 or Xbox demos available. [Update: I had that totally wrong. There is an Xbox 360 demo available, and probably would be a PS3 demo if the PSN store was online.] If you want to be among the first to play the game, you have to go to OnLive (and I'm saying "demo" but really it's a 30-minute trial, starting from the beginning of the game).

Why is this important? Because (in theory at least) it should get people to try OnLive. I have gamer friends who, up until now, couldn't be bothered to check out the service even though it costs nothing to sign up. Maybe the chance to play this game will lure them in to give it a shot.

The other interesting perspective here is that SyFy Games and THQ (the publishers of the title) are turning to OnLive to use as a streaming game demo service. Wasn't that supposed to be Gaikai's niche? In fact, we haven't been hearing much out of Gaikai recently. Let's hope they make some news at E3 to show us all they're still alive.

Anyway, if you're looking for a fun way to kill half an hour over this upcoming three-day holiday (in the US anyway) weekend I suggest you take Red Faction: Armageddon and OnLive for a spin. It isn't going to cost you a penny to see how well the service works for you and the game, or at least the first 30 minutes of it, is really fun. In fact the scheme worked because suddenly Red Faction: Armageddon, a game I wasn't paying much attention to and wouldn't have bothered downloading and installing a demo of, is on my "Buy" list. It was so easy taking it for a test run on OnLive, there was really no reason not to give it a try. I'm glad I did.

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