Moto X Force Review

Moto X Force Review

Smartphone screens are brittle, expensive, and downright depressing when broken. We’ve heard countless stories of how the smallest drop has shattered a screen, followed by the heartbreak of having to shell out a lot of money for repairs and then having to live with a ‘fixed’ smartphone. According to Motorola’s own statistics, 51 percent of smartphone users have shattered or cracked their display at some point.

Manufacturers have tried to do their part to make such damage less upsetting for customers, such asSamsung’s offer of a one-time screen replacement during the first year of purchase. Additionally, Apple may soon accept phones with broken screens as part of its trade-in program. While these may be some consolation to victims of a broken screen, why not dream of better?

That’s where the Rs. 49,999 Moto X Force comes in. The phone comes with what the company calls a ‘ShatterShield’ display, and Motorola assures buyers that the screen of the phone is ‘shatterproof’. It’s designed to take a pounding, including being dropped onto solid surfaces from heights and at angles that would result in gaping cracks through a typical smartphone’s screen, and shivers down the spines of the owners of said smartphones. Motorola further backs up the guarantee with a four-year warranty on the display, which covers accidental damage. And above all, this is a flagship smartphone with all the bells and whistles you’d expect to see. We review the ‘unbreakable’ Motorola Moto X Force.

(Also see: The Moto X Force Shouldn’t Exist in 2016)

Look and feel
Motorola’s current lineup of smartphones tends to stick to a formulaic look, and the Moto X Force follows this trend. The Moto X name now has four current-generation models: the Moto X (2nd Gen),Moto X Play, Moto X Style and Moto X Force. All of them have similar aesthetics and styling. However, the Moto X Force, being the flagship, has a bit more going on than the rest.

The key differences are visible at the back, with the ‘ballistic nylon’ rear panel that we first saw on last year’s Moto Turbo (Review | Pictures). One key advantage of this is that the phone’s back panel is effectively scratch-proof, and it also looks rather good. Near the top are the camera, flash, and the Motorola logo. It’s a beautiful look that goes well with the rest of the device.

Although the edges feel a bit sharp, the Moto X Force is still easy to hold, thanks to the natural grip that the nylon back offers. However, thanks to the large screen and heavy frame, the device feels unwieldy and is hard to use with one hand.

moto_x_force_back_ndtv.jpgThe frame is entirely metal, and feels rather solid and sturdy. On the right are the power and volume keys, the bottom has the Micro-USB port and some regulatory text, while the top has the Nano-SIM and microSD tray, and 3.5mm socket. The front has two speaker grilles at the bottom, along with the flash, earpiece, and front camera at the top. There are no capacitive soft keys, with the phone relying on on-screen keys instead, similar to the current Nexus range of smartphones. There is also no fingerprint sensor, which may be a put-off for many users, considering the price of the Moto X Force.

The display of the phone is a 5.4-inch, 1440×2560-pixel Amoled screen, with a 540ppi density and 69.8 percent screen-to-body ratio at the front. It has a slightly warm tone to it, but is brilliant when it comes to colours and brightness. Black levels are truly fantastic, and the phone tends to bring out the best in high-resolution videos. As expected, it’s also incredibly sharp, and it’s hard to detect individual pixels even when looking at it up close. At this price though, we’d expect no less.

moto_x_force_position2_ndtv.jpgWe now come to the key feature of the Moto X Force, the ‘shatterproof’ display. The display is made with a rigid aluminium core, flexible Amoled screen, and dual touch panel layers (which is a redundancy in case one goes bad). Along with the solid metal frame, this gives the phone the protection it needs to prevent the screen from shattering when dropped or put under pressure. We tested the durability of the screen thoroughly, and despite multiple drops at different angles and from different heights, it indeed did not shatter. The Moto X Force is also water-resistant and can handle getting a bit wet. We’re happy to say that Motorola has put its money where its mouth is with this one.

However, let’s be completely clear that while the screen indeed seems ‘unbreakable’, the rest of the phone is not built for excessive abuse. The frame scuffs easily, and too many drops may even dislodge the nylon panel at the rear. We also started hearing some minor distortion from the speaker that we hadn’t heard earlier. Although the majority of the components inside the phone are solid-state and can take some abuse, that doesn’t mean that the phone in its entirety is indestructible, and reasonable care is still advised. Having said that, it’s still one of the more durable, hardy, and solid phones we’ve ever used.

moto_x_force_side_ndtv.jpgSpecifications and software
When a smartphone costs nearly Rs. 50,000, there are some obvious expectations from the specifications sheet which the Moto X Force does live up to, with top-end innards. Powering the smartphone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC, which is currently Qualcomm’s flagship smartphone SoC. There’s also 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Keep in mind that the 64GB option costs a bit more at Rs. 53,999, and that you can add expandable storage up to a theoretical 2TB, although the current highest capacity for microSD cards is 200GB.

The single-SIM smartphone also supports 4G connectivity, with support for the FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE bands currently used by operators in India. The phone has a non-removable 3760mAh battery, and comes with a massive 25W charger. Along with Qualcomm’s Fast Charge technology, this ensures that the phone can go from zero to 100 percent in less than an hour, which is incredibly useful. The only issue we had with the charger is that it doesn’t have a detachable USB cable, so you’ll need a separate cable to connect the Moto X Force to a PC. The phone also supports wireless charging, but you’ll need to buy a separate accessory for this. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC. The phone is truly fully loaded and fairly future-proof.

moto_x_force_main2_ndtv.jpgThe Moto X Force runs Android 5.1.1 out of the box, with Motorola’s slightly tweaked version of stock Android on top. This is a major disappointment, as users would expect a company like Motorola to launch its newest flagship phone with the latest version of Android. Although we can expect software updates, there’s no official word on when just yet. The user interface is pretty much identical to stock Lollipop, although updating the default Google Now Launcher brings a few Marshmallow-esque changes to the interface.

Update, February 21: Our Moto X Force review unit has received the over-the-air update to Android 6.0, and is now running the latest version of the operating system. Changes include Doze Mode, app standby, links and permissions, the abiltiy to use expandable storage as internal memory, Now on Tap, Do Not Disturb Mode and more.

Just like on the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, the software and interface is bare bones and free of too many frills. This helps in performance and the Moto X Force is an absolute flier and a pleasure to use. The only real differences compared to stock Android are Motorola’s small additions to the software, including the Connect app which lets you use the phone with Motorola accessories and connected devices, dedicated apps for gallery and messaging, and the excellent Moto app which controls the Moto Voice, Moto Display, and Moto Actions tools.

moto_x_force_main3_ndtv.jpgOnce set up, you can configure the phone to react to a customised voice command, which will bring up the voice assistant. This can be used to tell the phone to do anything, from carrying out Google searches to placing calls, sending messages and opening particular apps. Voice recognition is fantastic, and the app works excellently. Additionally, you can give voice commands even from standby mode, and this makes the phone incredibly easy to use without using your hands.

You can also set up Assist, which uses the phone’s sensors to understand when you’re sleeping or driving, and optimise you phone during those activities. It can additionally be set to recognise certain actions to trigger the flashlight or camera, or to activate Moto Display when you reach for the phone. Moto Display itself is excellent, making use of the Amoled screen to only partially activate and show you your notifications without having to unlock the phone. All of these actions work perfectly to trigger their functions, and this makes the Moto X Force unbelievably intuitive and easy to use.

The Moto X Force has a 21-megapixel primary camera with dual-tone LED flash and variable focus, and 5-megapixel front camera with single-tone LED flash and fixed focus. The rear camera can record up to 4K-resolution video at 30fps, while the front camera records up to full-HD resolution video. The rear camera is also capable of recording slow-motion video at 720p.

The camera app is a bit tricky to use, because of what we feel is an over-simplification of its functions. There is no dedicated capture button; instead, you simply tap anywhere on screen or press one of the volume keys to capture photos. Buttons in the bottom corners allow you to switch between the front and rear camera, and shoot video. There are no other controls on screen, but you can bring up some controls by swiping from left to right. This menu allows you to control HDR, flash, focus and exposure, picture ratio and video resolution, among other things. Swiping from right to left brings up the gallery, while swiping up and down control the zoom. We often accidentally triggered the shutter when we were trying to swipe or attempting to control focus and exposure, and a lack of optical image stabilisation meant that we had to compose our shots very carefully and often shoot in burst mode to get good results.

moto_x_force_camerashot2_ndtv.jpg(Tap to see full-sized image)The camera itself is great, provided you’ve taken the trouble to compose the shot properly and kept your hand stable. Even a bit of movement has a tendency to ruin pictures, so careful shooting is advised. Once you get it right, the Moto X Force will produce some excellent images that are sharp, detailed and bright, with vibrant colours. The front camera also takes good pictures, and the presence of a flash makes it possible to get great selfies even in dark spaces.

Videos are excellent no matter what mode you shoot in, and 4K and slow-motion video are both naturally entertaining to watch. Low-light pictures are decent as well, and close-ups are among the best we’ve seen. The camera is pretty much on par with that of the Nexus 6P, and is only brought down by the trickiness of the software and the need for a steady hand.

moto_x_force_camerashot1_ndtv.jpgmoto_x_force_camerashot3_ndtv.jpg(Tap to see full-sized images)Performance
Considering that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC is one of the best in the world, performance on the Moto X Force is fantastic. As previously stated, the bare bones interface and performance-tuned software play a large part in this, as does the 3GB of RAM. Whether it’s loading web pages, playing games or running heavily encoded videos, the Moto X Force performs flawlessly. Resource-heavy apps such as the camera, popular social media platforms, Whatsapp and Netflix work perfectly well. Overall, we felt that the Moto X Force didn’t quite perform as well as the Nexus 6P, but it certainly came close.

moto_x_force_bottom_ndtv.jpgBenchmark scores are incredibly high as well, with the Moto X Force registering scores of 81,822 and 36,667 in AnTuTu and Quadrant respectively. These scores are considerably higher than those of the Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (Review | Pictures), and are slightly higher than the similarly-specced LeEco Le Max (Review | Pictures) managed too. GFX Bench and 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited also returned high scores of 40fps and 24,698 respectively.

The Moto X Force has a strong antenna, and is capable of holding onto both Wi-Fi and 4G networks with ease, where other phones struggled. Call quality was superb as well, as was audio performance through both headphones and the internal speakers. However, the stereo effect was slightly lacking, as the speakers are next to each other. Battery life is excellent as well, with the phone running for 14 hours, 42 minutes in our video loop test. Even in day to day use, the battery would easily last through the day despite heavy use which included 4G connectivity.

The Moto X Force is undeniably a force to reckon with among smartphones. This is a powerhouse of a smartphone with good looks, a superb screen, great performance and an excellent camera. Above all, it has a killer feature that’s currently exclusive to it: the Moto X Force’s display is truly shatterproof, and as a result, the phone can take a pounding like no other. If you have a habit of dropping your phone often or have had to deal with expensive mobile phone repair bills in the past, you should seriously consider the Moto X Force.

Unfortunately, these features come at a considerable price. Despite the obvious advantages of shatter-proof construction and the high-end specifications and performance, Rs. 50,000 is far too much money to pay for an Android smartphone. Additionally, the lack of dual-SIM connectivity and a fingerprint sensor may be a put-off to many, so the Moto X Force isn’t quite as perfect as it seems. However, it’s still one of the most innovative and interesting smartphones we’ve used, and one that fully lives up to its claims.

Moto X Force in pictures


Hitman Beta Has Good Gameplay but Poor Performance

Hitman Beta Has Good Gameplay but Poor Performance

We are on a boat. Well, a training mission that takes place on a set, akin to how TV shows are recorded, complete with a luxury yacht if we’re to be precise. There’s a party onboard featuring the wheelers and dealers of the art world.

Dressed up as one of the many waiters on the ship, we overhear conversations about how texting is a new fad, and how the host of the soirĂ©e, Kalvin Ritter, is setting himself up for one last heist as an art thief. It’s up to us to ensure those plans never reach fruition. While it’s far too late to stop sending messages via phones from catching on, we can definitely do something about Mr. Ritter.

Quietly blending in with the hired help, we make our way to his private quarters, set up a remote explosive under his desk, and vault out through a window. Moments later he shows up. As we walk down the ramp of the yacht, a discernible clicking sound is heard followed by a massive explosion that rocks the boat back and forth.

kalvin_ritter_hitman_beta_square_enix.jpg(Also see: Hitman Beta: 9 Things You Need to Know)

In this simple training mission, the Hitman beta is steeped with detail. There are several people going around, doing their own thing, tons of conversations to overhear, and a sense of life that make its opening sections a treat. The same sense of immersion is extended in the second mission. Much like the first, this one too takes place on a set. This time it’s a replica of a Soviet base in Cuba. Our target is a chess genius turned spy for the USSR, Jasper Knight.

After clumsily choking a guard, we snagged his uniform and made our way through the gates, avoiding other soldiers as they could have recognised us. Snaking past a few outhouses and crates, we hear a conversation between two mechanics that presented an amusing assassination opportunity. Knight has plans to escape via fighter jet and the safety protocols need to be tested. We found an isolated mechanic and rendered him unconscious. Donning his uniform we proceeded to the aircraft and indulged in the necessary sabotage. The result of which has us walking away unscathed from screams and explosions, much like the first mission.

If discretion isn’t your forte, you can turn each level of Hitman into a playground of destruction. This does impact your score and makes killing your primary target a tad more difficult too, so it’s not always advisable. Besides, there are plenty of ways to silently get your kills. Replaying through the initial stage, we found rat medicine that we slipped into the drink of our target, poisoning and killing him instantly. These are just a few of the ways in you can approach your encounters, with a wide range of methods to discover. In the beta missions, Hitman provides a wealth of options above and beyond the usual, straightforward bullet-to-the-head route that other games revel in.

jasper_knight_hitman_beta_square_enix.jpgBut the Hitman beta isn’t without its issues. It could barely keep a stable frame rate, was subject to more stuttering than Shah Rukh Khan in a 1990s Bollywood movie, and there was some awful screen tearing that saw recently deceased bodies turning into a part of the furniture and walls. Other users have even reported it crashing, forcing users to restart the game. Keep in mind that this was on the PS4 version.

In our previous impressions of the game, developer IO Interactive claimed that compared to the 30 to 40 non-playable characters (NPCs) you could interact with in Hitman: Absolution, there are 300 NPCs in this game. What’s more, your actions in the game affect those around you and they react accordingly. This doesn’t exactly bode well for the console versions considering how poorly the beta performed with an NPC count that’s drastically lower than the 300-odd we’d expect in the games main missions.

With a beta on Windows PCs at the end of the week, it will be interesting to see if there’s any perceptible difference in performance. Hitman possesses responsive controls and slick, refined gameplay that keeps you thinking and improvising. But is it enough to keep your mind off some nagging technical concerns? Hopefully this is an instance where the beta isn’t representative of the final product. Nonetheless we’ll know when this episodic take on the series releases on March 11, featuring its prologue and Paris missions.


Gionee S6 Review

Gionee S6 Review

Gionee has been rapidly expanding its ‘Elife S’ series off late. It launched the Gionee S Plus in November and has now launched its fourth offering, the Gionee S6. While the two smartphones come with almost identical specifications, the S6 emphasises on a more premium build, as well as support for VoLTE.

The phone is priced at Rs. 19,999 and in terms of product positioning, the Gionee S6 will go up against the Oppo R7 Lite (Review). Let’s see how the S6 fares against the competition.

Look and feel

The Gionee S6 doesn’t exactly have an identity it can call its own. Unlike a current-gen Motorola phone – which is instantly recognisable due to its iconic design – one could easily mistake the S6 for a smartphone by Huawei or LeEco. To be fair, this is probably true of most offerings launched by Chinese companies these days. Having said that, Gionee has done a good job with the unibody aluminium build and the phone looks pretty good in rose gold. It’s comfortable to hold and the button placement in spot-on, allowing for some level of single-handed use.

Gionee_S6_back_ndtv.jpgThe 5.5-inch HD Amoled display on the Gionee S6 gets Gorilla Glass 3 for protection and it is quite legible under most lighting conditions. However, the colours are wildly oversaturated which can get a little jarring at times. We wished there was an option to tweak the colours for a more natural effect.

Gionee_S6_port_ndtv.jpgThere are non-backlit capacitive buttons at the bottom for navigation that are fairly responsive. The buttons on the side have good tactile feedback as well. At the bottom, we have a USB Type-C charging port (USB 2.0 speeds) which is flanked by two speaker grilles. Around the back, we have a 13-megapixel camera and the LED flash. There’s a 5-megapixel camera in the front as well as a notification LED that’s hidden away in the front facia.

Gionee_S6_headphone_ndtv.jpgThe Gionee S6 supports Dual-SIM 4G with VoLTE, which is accessible via the SIM tray on the left. This is hybrid SIM tray which means you’ll have to choose between a second SIM or a microSD card. The battery is sealed inside and is non-removable.

Gionee_S6_bundle_ndtv.jpgThe phone ships with a 10W charger, data cable, in-ear headset, screen guard, silicone case and the usual warranty information booklets. The quality of the accessories is alright, although we would have liked to see a higher-grade USB cable, as the supplised one doesn’t feel too durable. The S6 scores well in the build and aesthetics department and gets no complaints from us. It’s quite light too at 148g and slim enough to fit into your skinny jeans pocket.

Specifications and software

In terms of power, Gionee gives you an octa-core MediaTek MT6753T SoC running at 1.3GHz and 3GB of RAM. It’s not the most powerful SoC to be honest, especially for this price, as we’ve seen this in phones that cost nearly half as much. For storage, there’s 32GB of onboard storage that you can expand by 128GB; there’s Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, USB OTG, FM radio and Wi-Fi Direct. The phone supports 4G LTE on Band40 as well as VoLTE, so you will be able to use it with Reliance’s upcoming Jio platform.

Gionee_S6_sim_ndtv.jpgIt’s business as usual in the software department. The Gionee S6 runs the Amigo 3.1 skin on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. There’s the usual suite of apps which we’ve covered extensively in past reviews like the Gionee Marathon M5. Most of the third-party apps like the trial games and productivity apps can be uninstalled. You also get an app called Kids Home, which lets you grant your kids access to select apps. The phone also comes with AMI Note and AMI Lock apps from Gionee, but these weren’t present on our review unit.

Gionee_S6_screen_ndtv.jpgGionee has added some neat touches in Amigo 3.1, like the ability to quickly access your hidden photos with a simple pinch-out gesture in the gallery app. You can also safely eject OTG drives by simply tapping the button in the notification bar.


Despite the extensive skin, Android runs very smoothly without any hiccups. Multi-tasking and transition effects are lag-free as there’s about 1.6GB of free RAM available at any given point. The phone gets a bit warm during gaming or video playback but never uncomfortably hot. Voice calls are handled well too although the edge around the earpiece doesn’t offer the most comfortable feeling if you’re on a long call. VoLTE is a future-proof feature to have as it will also work on the Reliance Jio network.

Gionee_S6_earphone_ndtv.jpgBenchmark scores are pretty good too and in some tests, the MediaTek chip sneaks past a similarly spec’d Snapdragon 615. We got a score of 37845 in AnTuTu and 20fps in GFXBench’s T Rex test. Real world games runs pretty smoothly, right from simple ones like Alto’s Adventure to more graphically demanding games like Asphalt 8.

The Gionee S6 does well with multimedia files too, playing back 1080p videos with ease. The stock video player has the option to enable DTS audio, which adds a nice boost to the sound. The effect is better heard with the bundled headset than with the speaker. The audio player gets similar enhancements along with other options to tweak the sound stage. Audio quality is good with the provided headset while the loud speaker does a decent job with alerts, but isn’t great for watching movies.

Gionee_S6_sample1_ndtv.jpgGionee_S6_sample3_ndtv.jpg(Tap for full-sized images)The 13-megapixel rear camera captures very good detail and good colours in daylight. Landscapes and macros are sharp and well-detailed and the camera is quick to focus and capture the image. We found the HDR mode to be a bit temperamental as it refused to capture an HDR shot. Low-light shots aren’t great as there’s quite a bit of noise that creeps into the picture, but overall it’s acceptable.

Gionee_S6_sample2_ndtv.jpg(Tap for full size image)There are a bunch of shooting modes play around with including GIF, a barcode scanner, and a professional mode. The front camera captures decent selfies indoors. Quality of recorded video is good too and is fairly stead thanks to the software stabilisation.

Battery life

The 3150mAh battery managed to last 12 hours and 3 minutes in our video loop test, which is good. During real world usage, we managed to get up to a day and a half before needing to charge the phone. Although Gionee doesn’t explicitly talk about fast charging, the 10W charger manages to charge the battery pretty quickly as we went from zero to 35 percent in roughly half an hour.


The Gionee S6 is a well-crafted smartphone and in some ways, offers better value than Oppo’s R7 Lite since it has double the onboard storage, FM radio, and supports VoLTE out-of-the-box. Given its price, we would have liked a more powerful SoC and a better display in the S6, as it would have been a good opportunity for Gionee to truly disrupt the mid-range market. But the company has played it safe and the premium you’re paying is for the design and build.

VoLTE is an important feature to have and although you won’t be able to use it right away, it will be immensely handy if you do switch to Reliance’s 4G network or stick around for others to launch their VoLTE services. Technically, most smartphones today with LTE capability (including non-TD LTE phones) could support VoLTE if the manufacture pushes out a software update to enable this.

The Gionee S6 is a good phone in its own right but feels a bit expensive for the hardware on offer. Plus, it’s also lacking some features like NFC and a fingerprint sensor, which would have been nice to have.

Gionee S6 in pictures


XCOM 2 Review

XCOM 2 Review

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is one of the best games in the strategy genre and it’s easy to see why. The game had a stellar user interface that would give Jony Ive an inferiority complex, a tough but fair set of game rules, and an addictive flow of events that would have you playing till the wee hours of the morning. Is XCOM 2 a worthy successor?

XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after the events of the first game. The world has surrendered to its alien invaders and XCOM – a clandestine group responsible for the planet’s last line of defence – is no more. This has resulted in a dystopian rule quashing any semblance of dissent. However, a force is being amassed to rebel against Earth’s extra-terrestrial leaders.

(Also see: XCOM 2 Promises to Bring Calculated Dread One Turn at a Time)

It is an interesting premise, and developer Firaxis has injected enough of a story to keep you invested in the proceedings. The story is neatly meshed with several gameplay elements. Much like the last game, you’ll spend a large amount of time in XCOM 2 managing your base of operations. This time around it is within the environs of a captured enemy aircraft, known as the Avenger. You’ll spruce up its interiors, allowing you access to new weapons and tech facilities, and repurpose rooms to suit your requirements such as recon about the aliens you’ll face on the ground, or researching new armour types.

sharpshooter_xcom2_2k.jpgThe other half of XCOM 2’s gameplay is its on-grounds turn-based combat. You’ll square off against enemies in a host of locations such as city squares, countryside churches, and alien facilities, utilising a variety of soldiers and weapons at your disposal. These include rangers, sharpshooters, specialists, psi operatives, and grenadiers.

Each class has its own special skills and abilities. On surviving skirmishes your soldiers gain experience, level up, and gain access to new skills and upgrades. If they die in battle they’re gone for good, making you invested in ensuring that they live to see another day. Combat itself is a treat to watch with the camera zooming to capture the spectacle of each headshot, stab, and shotgun blast, making it feel as impactful as it should be.

The first game had you defending the planet, but in XCOM 2, being on the offensive allows for some unique situations. For one, you’ll be able to keep your troops concealed from their targets. It allows you to set up and employ guerrilla tactics such as ambushes, propping up your squad to create the perfect kill zone just before you let the grenades fly. It’s a great feature that works well with the rest of the game. But another addition to the formula left us feeling a little less overjoyed: timed objectives.

gameplay_xcom2_2k.jpgMore often than not you’ll find yourself having to seize a location or obtain access to points of interest in a set number of turns, and failing to do so results in a game over screen. While it adds a sense of near death tension to the levels, we found that it tends to limits options.

As the game wore on we were forced to play aggressively, making risky decisions in order to meet the demands of the mission timers. It took away the regular set of tactics or tricks we’d usually indulge in, such as having our snipers hold back for cover. XCOM 2 is the rare game that forces you to think differently, but not in a fashion that everyone would necessarily be open to. There are some user-created modifications to rectify this, but a balanced approach to timed objectives would have been welcome, rather than forcing gamers to change it themselves.

Time also impacts the overall flow of the game’s events much like before. This time around you’re racing to beat the Avatar project. This is an alien weapon that, when complete, would allow your oppressors to consolidate their power. To keep the pressure up, you’re informed of its progress with each passing mission. Think of it as a Doomsday Clock, inching closer towards the inevitable.

While you can probably prevent the doom in the world of XCOM 2, there are some glaring concerns that have yet to be worked out with the very game itself. It’s been almost two weeks since the game has been out and it performs poorly. We checked it out on two different PCs, both well above the recommended specifications and found it lacking. When in-game or during cut-scenes, it slows down so much that it makes a PowerPoint presentation seem like a Formula 1 race. The frequent frame rate drops and constant stutter make us wonder what Firaxis did with the extra time needed to bring this to PC, forsaking other platforms in the process. Even after the latest patch, very little has changed.

beserker_xcom2_2k.jpgIn addition to this, loading times are horrible even with a solid state drive, requiring you to hold theCaps Lock button down to speed it up. The glaring lack of controller support (except for the Steam Controller) does it no favours either, as nor does the user interface. There’s very little that’s explained in terms of turn by turn mechanics or the overall base management outside the initial tutorials, leading to a game that feels a lot more overwhelming than it should be.

Overall, XCOM 2 is a flawed sequel. Much like Street Fighter V, we can’t help but feel that there’s a good game here, it’s just that the wrong set of features were prioritised in production. We recommend waiting for it to be fixed before putting down your cash.


  • Better narrative
  • Addictive combat
  • Troop concealment


  • Too action-focussed for some
  • Mission timers
  • Appalling PC performance

Rating (out of 10): 7