With the help of our friends over at Nvidia I was able to slide past all the VIPs and execs here at CES to get a short bit of time with the newly announced Android-powered Project Shield handheld game system.
The first thing that struck me is that it's much lighter than it appears to be, and not bulky at all. The system sits nicely in the hands and it feels like even extended play sessions would not be a problem. The screen is nice and big, but it’s also thin and light, meaning that the system is not back-heavy.
Button and stick placement are spot on. The twin thumb sticks fall under the thumbs nicely, with the thumb angle of approach falling at a natural 45 degrees or so. The face buttons are nice and responsive. While I like the floating, circular d-pad, I could see some that prefer cross-style pads having issue with it.
I had the chance to try out a bit of streaming play with Assassin’s Creed III on the Project Shield system. It was almost unbelieveable to see gameplay and cutscenes running at such a high level of quality on the 5-inch screen, and seeing the mirror image of that action running on a PC screen at the same time had me really appreciating the low latency streaming tech they have running under the hood. It really looked as if the handheld was doing all of the processing. Very impressive.
I'm hoping to get a chance to try out some non-streaming games on the system later this week at CES.
Seeing as how this handheld will release in an already flooded Android gaming market, and will require Nvidia's GTX cards to enable streaming gameplay, it will likely be a niche product with pretty limited appeal. Still, the streaming technology I saw today was impressive enough that I'm hoping they'll work it into other products.
Stay tuned for more on Project Shield later this week.
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