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Nvidia Grid review

We’ve played with Nvidia’s slick new cloud gaming service, Nvidia Grid, which lets you stream a selection of games to your Shield Tablet for free. Here’s our full setup and performance Nvidia Grid review.

Nvidia Grid is a direct competitor to the likes of Sony’s Playstation Now and OnLive, allowing you to stream massive titles such as Borderlands 2 and Grid 2 straight to your Nvidia Shield tablet for free. If you want to know the how’s and why’s then check out our ‘what is Nvidia Grid’ launch piece; here and now, let’s dive straight into the Nvidia Grid experience.

Nvidia Grid setup: How to get it working on your Nvidia Shield Tablet

Activating Nvidia Grid on your Shield Tablet is a pretty straight-forward and painless process. The Dublin servers are now live and kicking, and that’s what we tested the streaming on.

First, you need to make sure your tablet is updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop. To do this, head to the Shield’s settings menu and then About Tablet at the bottom. If Android version is showing as less than 5.0, you need to update the OS. Go to ‘Check for updates’ and follow the instructions to download and install Lollipop and any other waiting system updates.

With that done, you’ll need to update your Shield Hub app. Search for it in Google Play and tap ‘Update’ and the latest version will download to your tablet. Open it up once it’s all done and you’ll see a fresh new ‘Grid Games’ tab, along with the usual My PC Games, My Android Games etc.

You’ll be asked to set up a Grid account, which is used to sync your saved games and so on. With that done, you’re ready to play!

Nvidia Grid games: What can I play?

At the moment, there are exactly 20 games you can play. These are:

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

Astebreed

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham City

Borderlands

Borderlands 2

Brutal Legend

Darksiders

Darksiders 2

Dead Island

Dirt 2

Grid

Lego Batman 2

Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Saints Row: The Third

Street Fighter X Tekken

Strike Suit Zero

The Witcher 2

Trine 2

Ultra Street Fighter IV

Obviously the emphasis is on action, with most of the games on offer involving blasting your way through hordes of enemies, although driving fans are also catered for with Grid and Dirt 2. Kids are limited to a pair of Lego games and there’s nothing so far for sports fans, but Nvidia has promised us lots of hot new titles soon, so we’re holding out for a really compelling line-up soon.

Nvidia Grid gameplay experience

We tried streaming games over our home network, to keep the testing as real-life as possible. For all of our tests we used a 5-6 Mbps connection, with our router connected into our phone socket in one room and our Nvidia Shield Tablet in another room, roughly twenty feet and two walls away. The testing equipment was a bog-standard Netgear router, plus the Nvidia Shield Tablet LTE and Nvidia’s own controller.

To say that we were pessimistic at first was an understatement. Nvidia recommended a 10 Mbps connection to get the best experience from the Grid streaming, and our piddly home connection did anything but fill us with confidence. All the same, we plunged into a bit of Darksiders with baited breath.

After a quick connection test, a loading screen popped up for around twenty seconds or so, and then miracle of miracles, we were into the title screen. What’s more, the game seemed to be running smoother than an oiled-up Jason Statham. The suitably hokey opening scene played without a single stutter and then we were into the game, smashing our way through hordes of gribblies.

We’re not exaggerating when we say it’s just like playing a game installed right there on your tablet. We honestly forgot that the game was actually running on a server 300 miles away in Dublin, thanks to the zero latency between bashing a button and seeing your action performed on-screen. Frankly, if Jesus himself were to build a remote gaming service, this would be it.

We tested a number of games and they all ran perfectly, whether it was mid-afternoon or late at night. There were a couple of tiny stutters when loading one or two of the games, but that was the only time the streaming was anything less than exemplary. All of your saved games are also stored on those remote servers, so you can jump straight back into your game at any time from any compatible device using your login account.

Graphics-wise, the Grid games are streamed in 720p and look great on the compact Nvidia Shield Tablet screen. You can also hook the tablet up to your TV via HDMI if you want a more console-like experience, and again the visuals are fine, if not quite next-gen. Of course, most of the titles available in Nvidia Grid are at least a year old already, in some cases much older. We’re hoping for some newer titles soon.

We’ll keep you updated with Nvidia Grid’s progress, but for now, we’ve got some demons to slay and some loot to gather…

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