The inclusion of Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 4 prove the best material to be exploited by the GamePad 2. Both of the games play naturally on the GamePad 2 much in the same way you can sit down with any other console controller and expect the right trigger to accelerate or shoot. Starting with the creatively titled ‘Modern Combat 4’ one of the levels has you assaulting a fictional Omaha Beach like level with amphibious vehicles – straight away I was crouching behind cover, lobbing grenades and so on as if i’d played the game many times before. Likewise, Asphalt 8 sticks to the usual control schema found elsewhere along with incorporating ‘Nos boosts’ and drifts to the hardware – something that just isn’t possible to be accurate and controllable in a touch only environment.
Whilst the initial experience is enjoyable, if not eye-opening in regards to where future gaming tablets may go, the decision to go with ‘nubs’ over analog sticks is a design decision just short of failure in the Game Pad 2’s goal. Trying to play Modern Combat 4 that’s reliant on you using both nubs is a chore, really, with the difficulty being offset by an egregious auto-aim effect that reduces the FPS to something more like a rhythm game.
The in-game performance isn’t silky smooth either with noticeable juddering during the heavy action sequences, albeit still playable from a performance aspect. Whilst the performance in the here and now isn’t of too much concern, there’s no telling how well the Game Pad 2 will fare down the line when more demanding games are released.
General usage with the GamePad 2 is nothing less than stellar, though. Outside of the more demanding games the controller was made to make use of, YouTube, browsing and social media apps all run well and as expected. The display quality and aspect ratio is especially good for YouTube videos and viewing photos on Facebook. Combining Archos’ mapping software with the hardware buttons also allows you to use the android OS with the controller. It actually feels somewhat faster when flicking through menus with the controller than it does using your finger and you can transition between either seamlessly.
Wifi and connectivity options are good, with both 2.4 and 5GHz networks covered with good coverage out into my garden which is around 8m (including walls) away from the router. The HDMI functionality works great once you source a converter and the inclusion of wireless display is nice but I have no way to test the capability myself. Battery life shouldn’t be an issue between journeys either, with SuperPi on loop I got about 90 minutes out of a full charge but this is with a strenuous and heavy workload you wouldn’t ever encounter.