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Control is one of the most acclaimed games of the current generation of consoles, a third-person action title with a superb setting that has been nominated for more than 60 international awards in the last year.
It can be played on Windows, Playstation, Xbox or Switch, but in recent weeks I have played it on very different platforms: an iPhone, an iPad and a Mac.
I did it thanks to Luna, Amazon's new game streaming service, announced at the end of September and currently only available in the US.
Like Stadia, Playstation Now, or GeForceNow or xCloud, the proposal is simple: the game runs on a remote server with high graphic features and what the player sees is a real-time video of the action.
When you press a button on the controller, the signal is sent to the servers (in this case those of Amazon) and on the screen you see the result as if you were playing on a console a few feet away.
It sounds a bit convoluted but it works.
It works very well.
The first thing you think of when playing streaming for the first time is that latency -the time that passes from when you press a button until the server sends the video signal of what happens- will play against you and make the experience bad. , but the truth is that with a good WiFi connection (and fiber of about 300 mbps at home), it is difficult to find the difference with a game running on a local device.
During the last weeks we have had problems on two occasions, but due to interference from the local WiFi signal, the video from Amazon's servers always looked perfect, with Full HD quality (in the future Luna will support 4K as well) and the graphics performance you would expect from a high-end PC.
Amazon recommends a minimum 10 Mbps connection to servers for a good experience, but it is an optimistic recommendation.
It would force you to compress the video a lot, so it is best to have a fiber connection with enough capacity, and - it is important to underline this - a good WiFi connection at home or a direct connection over Ethernet.
Games that are somewhat more complex or require great precision, such as Metro: Exodus, were also smoothly controlled using a PS4 controller connected via Bluetooth to the Mac or iPhone.
Amazon will soon release a proprietary controller that connects directly to servers to further eliminate possible latency, but in my testing I didn't notice it was needed.
Luna also allows you to play with a keyboard and mouse, if we want, although only on PC or Mac. And of course, it allows you to play on your home TV if you use an Amazon FireTV streaming device, although I have not tried this option.
Good catalog and compatible with iOS
Luna starts with a catalog of about 50 games with some well-known titles, such as the aforementioned Control or Metro: Exodus, which are games of high graphic quality and complex narratives, but also with independent titles somewhat less focused on the visual experience, such as Sonic Mania or Lumines.
The catalog marks the first difference with Luna's main competitor, Google's Stadia service.
Luna allows access to this complete catalog (Luna Plus) for $ 6 per month.
Stadia, on the other hand, is considered as a streaming service for games that are purchased individually.
Stadia offers a service, Stadia Pro, that for $ 10 a month includes some free games, but does not usually include titles such as Control or Metro: Exodus.
In that sense, Luna's approach, for now, is more similar to that of a "Netflix" of video games in the cloud.
n a future Luna will offer "channels", focused on specific distributors that will have an additional cost but that will add several games to the catalog (for example, a channel from Ubisoft, or from EA), but at the moment the service only offers these 50 titles at the indicated price.
In my tests, Stadia and Luna offered more or less similar gameplay, but Luna has proven to be much more stable in connections and the video, in general, offers a bit more quality.
Amazon also has another advantage that is the integration with Twitch, the video platform focused on games that it acquired a few years ago.
When you go to select a game you can see a list of related Twitch videos.
Perhaps the biggest advantage, however, is that Luna is compatible with iOS, which no other service offers.
It does not have a real application but uses a webapp (an application that runs in the web browser) and is compatible with the Safari browser.
This means that Amazon can offer a complete experience without going through Apple's AppStore, which has several rules that complicate the existence of streaming game services.
Ultimately, Luna's great appeal is that versatility.
It can be played almost instantly on any device and with the graphic quality that you would expect from a console or a good PC, but without noise and with the versatility of being able to leave the game on one device and continue it hours later on another, even in portable format.
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