When most people think of mobile gaming on Android devices, they envision small, bite-sized experiences, scaled way back to fit in their pocket. And that's true, to an extent: the Android platform has its fair share of quick-hit, casual offerings that are great for a short on-the-go fix, but new tech is driving an exciting evolution that's pushing portable gaming into bigger and bolder territory.
For serious PC and console gaming enthusiasts, the lack of portability on traditional systems is a real bummer when you've got an itch that needs scratching. So where do you turn when you want to play higher-end games like Titanfall and Portal without being tethered to your desktop PC? One place is NVIDIA's new Android-based SHIELD tablet. The ability to play PC class games with cutting-edge graphics on an Android platform is a real eye-opening experience, and the SHIELD tablet's unique functionality pairs with a powerful Tegra K1 processor to deliver unparalleled PC-like performance on mobile hardware at full 1080p HD.
Slick new hardware is all fine and good, but it all really boils down to the games you can dive into and enjoy. The SHIELD taps into a continually expanding library of Android releases while letting you find new ways to experience top-notch PC titles. A growing number of killer PC-to-Android ports are finding a welcome home alongside dedicated Android offerings on the SHIELD. Standout PC games include Trine 2: Complete Story, Half-Life 2, and Portal, as well as Mount & Blade: Warband, Rochard, Zombie Tycoon 2, and Anomaly 2, to name a few. Next-gen tank and plane battling MMO War Thunder is not far behind, either.
Beyond dedicated Android games and PC ports, the SHIELD tablet delivers a not-so-little extra special something for PC gamers who already use NVIDIA's GeForce GTX graphics cards in their PC rig: the ability to stream and play your PC games wherever there's an Internet connection. If your PC is fired up at home, you can access and play your games via the SHIELD's GameStream function whether you're at a cafe with Wi-Fi, on a lunch break at work, or at a friend's house.
Heavy hitters like Titanfall and the upcoming Evolve top a huge list of supported GameStream compatible releases that include Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Dark Souls II, Batman: Arkham Origins, Hawken, Diablo III, and many other notable must-plays. The SHIELD's wireless controller completes the portable console and PC experience, allowing you to squeeze every ounce of responsiveness you need in gaming on this powerful tablet. Of course, kicking it in true tablet style is always an option too — just use the ultra-precise DirectStylus.
When you're not streaming your PC games, you can also play any SHIELD games in console mode through your big-screen TV or even stream directly to TwitchTV. If you have a zippy Internet connection and live in close proximity to California, NVIDIA's GRID cloud gaming service expands this even further by letting you stream a wide range of games directly to the SHIELD without requiring direct PC access. The service is currently in beta, but you can still check it out and give it a spin.
Raw horsepower and graphic prowess are certainly great, but the SHIELD isn't just about pushing the pixels with the SHIELD. Even hardcore gamers like to unwind in other ways from time to time, and support for 1080p Netflix streaming and expandable micro SD storage up to 128 GBs gives you extra wiggle room to kick back and enjoy your favorite movies, shows, and music between frag sessions.
Powerful portable PC-quality gaming is finally possible in the mobile Android realm, as SHIELD works to free you from your consoles and computers while also creating a new world for Android-based gaming. The future of tablet gaming is here, and it's a real game changer.
Nathan Meunier is a journalist and freelance writer who covers video games, technology, and geek culture. He's also the author of Up Up Down Down Left WRITE: The Freelance Guide to Video Game Journalism, which is out now on Kindle and in print.