The GamePad 2 comes running stock Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with all Android games and apps available to download. The familiar customisable home screens and widgets are also on offer.
With 2GB of RAM and a quad-core A9 1.6GHz processor, the GamePad 2 runs smoothly enough when gliding between apps and around the home screen. In-game, however, it's not always such a smooth experience, which is likely down to less-than-cutting-edge quad-core Mali 400 GPU.
Archos has learned its lesson from the previous GamePad by upping the RAM, but I still experienced some frustrating lag issues in Modern Combat 4. Granted, it's a demanding game, but the GamePad 2 should be be able to handle it if its sole purpose is to play games. Modern Combat seemed to struggle the most in large maps with lots of AI on screen. The 'corridor' levels were fine and quite smooth.
I had a similar problem with Asphalt, a demanding racing game, which had a questionable frame rate. You can improve the performance by limiting the amount of background tasks that are running, but the lag issues won't be entirely resolved.
Despite the lag problems, Modern Combat looks pretty decent. It's amazing to see how far mobile gaming has come and Modern Combat is a perfect example of that. The graphical ability of the GamePad 2 is easily on par with the Nintendo 3DS.
But with Android games rapidly and continually improving whilst demanding ever more CPU power, the GamePad 2 could easily become - and in many respects already is - obsolete very quickly. Without a lot of games being designed specifically for it, the GamePad 2 doesn't promise the same longevity of the 3DS, for example.
I found that the GamePad 2 actually performs best with comic-styled games. The depths of colour are impressive and cel-shaded games like The Walking Dead: Assault benefit hugely.
The GamePad 2 is quick to boot up, taking about 15 seconds, and games are similarly quick to start once opened. However, multi-tasking will limit game performance. If you have multiple games open they'll still run, but not at their optimum speed. Running apps in the background will exacerbate lag issues, especially if you have more than one game open.
Games in the Google Play Store are cheap and this is one of the biggest positives about the GamePad 2. Other handheld gaming devices like the PS Vita have games that cost a significant amount more.
Although there are lots of cheap games on the PlayStation store, most will be significantly more expensive than the games on the Android store. Obviously they're not comparable and the quality on the Vita is much higher, but for just a few pounds there are some excellent games on Android store that shouldn't be sniffed at. It's just a shame that they are few and far between.
Archos has introduced a new feature called the Game Zone which is essentially a slimmed down version of the Google Play Store that's only for games. It's not the nicest thing to look at and doesn't display the games in their full glory like the Play Store but it does helpfully tell you which games are optimised for the device.
Unlike the Vita and 3DS there is no 3G option on the GamePad 2, which is a shame given that there is a strong multiplayer element with many Android games.