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Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)

Stephan Jukic – May 24, 2018

Overview

The Sony X850F is basically the company’s successor to the 2017 Sony X850E and like its predecessor, this model comes in a slightly limited range of only larger sizes and features a mostly mid-range set of features. Sony has traditionally offered at least one of its X850 TVs with IPS display since at least a couple years ago and with the 2018 X850F the company followed this routine by making all of them except for the giant 85 inch model into IPS display model. What this means in practical terms is quite important: The TV by default comes with a much lower contrast ratio, weaker black levels and some other variations in color performance.

On the other hand, IPS display technology does improve viewing angles dramatically. It’s IPS issue aside, the X850F is a relatively good 4K HDR TV in most other ways. Note, the model being reviewed here is the 65 inch edition with IPS.

The 85 inch X850F offers a Vertical Alignment panel (VA display) and will have entirely different contrast, black level and local dimming specs. Color performance might also be different. All other specs, for motion handling, smart functionality, connectivity, gaming chops and so forth should be more or less identical in both IPS and VA versions.

Check the Sony XBRX850F 4K HDR LCD TV (2018 Model) on Amazon
Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)
4.7Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) – 4 Reviews

Positives

  • Excellent motion handling
  • Fine HDR and SDR color delivery
  • Excellent connectivity
  • Solid 4K TV for gamers and PC use
  • Very good viewing angles

Negatives

  • Terrible contrast ratio
  • Weak black levels
  • No local dimming to improve the above
  • Poor native audio power

Bottom Line

The Sony X850F is a good TV in so many ways, but its IPS display panel creates a contrast and black level performance that badly weakens how well this TV shows content on the screen. We recommend it if you like the wide viewing angles of IPS though.

Also Read. Our comprehensive guide to the best 4K HDR TVs of 2017 and 2018

What We Liked

There are plenty of good things about the Sony X850F.

In fact, if it weren’t for the specific problem of its IPS panel nearly ruining the TVs highly important performance on contrast and black level delivery, this would for the most part be one excellent high mid-range 4K HDR LCD TV. Thus, despite its notable flaws, the X850F does indeed offer a whole range of things we consider to be very good or even truly superb about its overall performance. Some of the following are as good in this model as they are in even the best Sony 2018 4K TVs, so let’s get down to the details of what we liked most about this model.

Color Performance Fortunately for owners of IPS 4K TVs or those who prefer this type of display for some reason (possibly because of the wide viewing angles it offers) color performance isn’t affected much at all and the X850F shows this wonderfully. In terms of both HDR and regular color volume, accuracy and vibrancy, this model performs nearly as well as any VA panel 4K TV would and delivers some great richness to any content you watch with it.

Now, deep rich black levels and high contrast definitely help make colors stand out more richly but the X850F’s actual raw color rendering performance does stand up by itself. HDR color The same goes for HDR color delivery and capability in this mid-range Sony 4K HDR TV.

It offers full support for wide color gamut at over 90% of the DCI-P3 color space and also supports full 10-bit color. In other words, the type of display panel it has doesn’t affect these two specs notably and while the X850F’s IPS display makes it a dismal failure at coming even close to meeting HDR10 standards for contrast, black level and peak brightness, at least high dynamic range colors are rendered superbly as required. We do need to mention that pricier and more refined Sony televisions like the X900F or Sony’s 2017 X930E do deliver superior overall color volume, higher DCI-P3 wide color gamut and better metrics for things like gamma and delta-E

Also Read.

Here’s everything you need to know about how high dynamic range, or HDR, works in 4K TVs

Our in-depth review of Sony’s X900F 4K HDR LCD TV

Motion handling The X850F does motion wonderfully. In previous years some of Sony’s mid-range 4K TVs tended towards defects in their motion handling but not so in this model’s case.

The X850F not only avoids almost all ghosting during movies, sports action or TV shows, it also avoids stutter and manages some excellent frame rate interpolation (as long as you don’t mind something of a soap opera effect). There’s also no backlight flicker that we could see and the X850F is just fine at handling most sources of lower frame rate content on its native 120Hz panel. Viewing Angles

The one huge benefit of IPS displays in 4K TVs is that they offer excellent viewing angles. Unlike VA TVs, whose pixels are narrow from left to right (due to their vertical alignment), IPS pixels are wider horizontally and allow for color, contrast and brightness to stay high even if the TV is being viewed from well over 30 degrees off to one side or another. VA panel 4K TVs may offer much better contrast but their narrow viewing angles are one of their major defects.

Obviously, for those thinking of buying the X850F among our readers, the 85 inch model, with its VA display doesn’t come with this particular benefit. Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) Display Brightness

The X850F gets quite bright. This makes its contrast ratios even worse than they might otherwise be for an IPS 4K TV but it also comes with its benefits in terms of good viewability even in brighter rooms and a bit of compensation for the low contrast ratio of this model. What we also like about the X850F’s brightness specs for both sustained and peak HDR and SDR brightness is the sheer level of consistency they seem to have.

In the model we reviewed here, (as we’ll show in greater detail below in our Visual Performance Specs section) specific levels of brightness stayed almost even for all settings when the TV is in standard content viewing mode and later stay even at a higher level when the TV is set to view HDR content. Design We like the design of the X850F.

It looks much like Sony’s premium 2018 4K HDR TVs except that it’s a bit thinner due to the absence of a full array LED backlight panel. Now while this means no high quality local dimming and higher peak brightness, the TV is at least much lighter and friendlier when it comes to mounting on a wall. Like the X900F, the X850E is made entirely out of plastics but it feels solidly constructed and its legs are a little thinner and more widely spaces.

Quite frankly, we’d even say we prefer this model’s design to that of its pricier cousin the X900. The bezels along the screen edge are extremely thin all around and that creates a great impression of a large, clean display area. Gaming Chops for consoles and PC use

Sony’s X850F offers some very decent console gaming compatibility across a wide range of resolution and color combinations, with or without HDR. In its gaming mode it performs well or even great in all these areas as our section on input lag in the Visual Performance Specs section further below will show. On the other hand, There are TVs out there that support superior levels of input lag across different resolutions, color settings an HDR adjustments.

Examples of these include Samsung’s MU-Series models from 2017 and 2018, Vizio’s 4K TVs and even TCL’s excellent P or C-Series models. Even Sony’s X900F performs a bit better than the X850F. However, for most gamers and PC users, the X850F does well enough in these areas and its high level of HDR color support boosts the quality of 4K or HDR gaming nicely.

It’s also a great TV for use as a PC monitor if you want one truly huge computer display. It also supports assorted resolution and color combinations when hooked up to any newer PC. Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)

Also Read:
Our review of the Samsung MU8000 4K HDR LCD TV
Our Review of TCL’s fantastic P-Series 2017 4K LCD TV with Dolby Vision HDR

Smart TV platform and Google Assistant

On a final note regarding complex features we particularly like, the smart TV platform of Sony’s 2018 TVs is the latest version of Android TV and while it lacks a bit of the fluid, easy usability of rival smart TV platforms like WebOS from LG or the fantastic Roku TV, we still like it plenty. Android TV offers a tremendous selection of apps with many more available for download from the gigantic Google Play marketplace. All of the major streaming media apps such as Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Vevo, Spotify and even Sony’s own special 4K movie download service are present but most importantly of all direct access to Google Play means that you can download just about any TV-compatible app from what is one of the World’s largest app marketplaces.

For this reason more than any other Android TV is a great smart interface for what is already a superb piece of hardware technology. Furthermore, the X850F’s version of Android TV also includes the downright fantastic new Google Assistant voice command software, letting you speak to open numerous apps, check the weather, open access to connected devices and search for content across apps. Google is still refining its voice assistant technology but the version of Google Assistant in the X850F already stands out for its quality among similar technologies from rival brands like Amazon’s Alexa, which are becoming ever more popular in most of the 4K TVs of 2018.

What We Didn’t Like

Contrast, black levels and local dimming performance

The biggest issues that the X850F faces revolve around its picture performance. IPS 4K TVs have their uses and for a certain type of 4K TV owner they can be very useful due to their wide viewing angles but their huge weakness lies in the terrible contrast performance they deliver. This is where the X850F disappoints the most and the problem is compounded even further by the absence of any local dimming technology behind this TV’s screen.

We’ve seen other IPS 4K TVs such as LG’s SJ8500 and certain Vizio P-Series IPS editions deliver some remarkably decent contrast ratios by IPS display standards but this was helped out by the fact that these TVs came with local dimming to augment darkness. The X850F lacks this feature and thus its already very poor native contrast of less than 900:1 can’t be improved further beyond this level. As a result, overall contrast is crappy, black levels are rather washed out and the overall result is a quality of general display performance that’s constantly marred by these black level failures.

This model is an HDR 4K TV, with support for vibrant, rich high dynamic range colors in certain types of content. And while those colors are indeed rendered nicely, their impact is weakened by how poor the quality of black levels shows itself to be in this television. This is the single biggest weakness of the Sony X850F and it’s nearly a deal breaker in many ways.

Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)

Also Read:
Our Review of the still fantastic 2017 Sony X930E 4K HDR TV
Our in-depth review of LG’s excellent SJ8500 IPS 4K LCD HDR TV
Our Review of Samsung’s Excellent Q9F LCD HDR 4K TV from 2017

Gaming Performance Details Another somewhat more minor issue we have with the X850F lies in how well it delivers low input lag for gaming via consoles and PC rigs. As we stated in our section above on what we liked about this model’s gaming chops, the X850F does not deliver poor input lag performance during gaming.

Most casual Xbox One, PS4 or more serious 4K HDR gamers, using the HDR and 4K versions of these consoles, will be happy enough with how well this 4K TV handles motion during gaming but, we’ve seen better performance from much cheaper 4K TVs. To name a couple of examples, TCL’s P-Series models from 2017 and any Samsung 4K TV no matter how cheap it is all offer fantastic input lag metrics and they’re also capable of similar or sometimes better HDR performance for high dynamic range games.

Also Read. Our review of the monster Xbox One X 4K HDR Gaming console

Audio Weakness

Finally, we can’t say we love the native audio system of the X850F. It’s below average in its overall performance and that’s a bit disappointing to see in a Sony TV like this from a company that we know to be capable of doing better (The Sony OLED TVs for 2017 and 2018 being an example of some very clever TV audio innovation). This isn’t to say that the X850F offers flat out crappy audio, but even a low-priced external speaker system or sound bar will improve this part of the TV’s performance enormously.

Value vs.

Price & Bottom Line

Overall, we think the X850F is a good 4K HDR TV as far as it goes but we don’t believe it quite offers enough performance to justify its price as a high mid-range 2018 4K TV, even if it comes from a major and excellent brand like Sony. There are plenty of better options available at lower prices and some TVs from Sony itself offer far superior overall performance while costing only a bit more. The 2017 X900E is a great example of this.

If you want a good IPS 4K TV, the X850F might be a good option but even as far as IPS 4K TVs go, we think LG’s SJ8500 from 2017 is the much better option. It offers better contrast, comes with local dimming and even includes support for Dolby Vision HDR, which is always a nice bonus.

Check the Sony XBRX850F 4K HDR LCD TV (2018 Model) on Amazon
Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)
4.7Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) – 4 Reviews

Also Read:
Our review of the superbly priced 2017 Sony X900E 4K HDR LCD TV

Key Sony XBRX850F TV Specs

  • Screen sizes: 65 in XBR65X850F, 75 in XBR75X850F, 85 in XBR85X850F (TV being reviewed is 65 inches)
  • Smart TV: Android TV with Google Assistant voice assist
  • HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
  • VP9 Included.

    Yes

  • HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
  • HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
  • HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Hybrid Log Gamma
  • Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
  • Screen Lighting: edge-lit LED backlighting WITHOUT local dimming
  • Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
  • Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
  • Remotes: Sony smart remote and Sony remote app for iOS, Android
  • Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out, all located in eternal One Connect box
  • Sound: 10 W+10 W with Dolby(TM) Digital, Dolby(TM) Digital Plus, Dolby(TM) Pulse and DTS Surround Sound support
  • Contrast Ratio: 895:1 (native, real contrast without local dimming activated)
  • Peak Brightness: 522 nits (cd/m2)
  • 3D Technology: N/A
  • TV dimensions without stand: (65 inch model): 57 1/8 x 33 x 2 1/8 inch (1450 x 836 x 52 mm)
  • Dimensions with stand: 57 1/8 x 35 1/2 x 12 1/2 inch (1450 x 900 x 315 mm)
  • TV weight (65 inch model): 56.4 lbs with Stand, 58.4 lbs without stand
  • Processor: 4K HDR Processor X1

Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)

Check the Sony XBRX850F 4K HDR LCD TV (2018 Model) on Amazon
Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)
4.7Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) – 4 Reviews

Display Performance Metrics

The following are the several categories of key display metrics for picture performance in the Sony X850F HDR TV. They may vary slightly from unit to unit so they should not be taken as absolutes. However, they should maintain a generally high level of similarity in all units that makes them good enough to be reliable indicators of quality.

Different sizes of TV display can change some of these metrics slightly (for example, larger edge-lit 4K TVs tend to have weaker local dimming and peak brightness) and though the X850F maintains identical display specs in all of its sizes, some TV models come with display panel variations for certain specific sizes. The following metrics of display performance for contrast, black level, color performance, brightness and motion handling (all of which are the most important aspects of display performance) essentially bear out what we said above about the X850F: This is a 4K TV with some excellent picture specs in how well it handles motion on the screen, how well it renders colors and how well it upscales non-4K content, but the X850F is fatally flawed by its contrast and black level issues and the lack of local dimming technology that could have made them more manageable. Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:

Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) Black levels, local dimming and contrast are all entwined together in any 4K TV and thus deserve being covered together. A 4K display’s contrast ratio is affected by how dark the screen can be made and this maximum black level is in turn affected by the presence and quality of local dimming technology.

For those of you who don’t clearly know how local dimming works, it’s basically a method by which the LEDs behind an LCD 4K TV display actually turn off in specific patterns to minimize how much light leaks through into the blacks that the screen is supposed to display. Not all TVs have local dimming though and in cheaper models, the LED backlight is always on, with blacks being created by light barriers inside the pixels on the screen itself. The X850F delivers what we’d consider to be a terribly poor black level across the board.

This affects and ruins its overall capacity for high quality contrast ratios (high contrast in essence) and also creates really washed out black levels for any dark areas of the screen. The resulting effect of these defects is a low level of general picture quality. It even makes the X850F’s otherwise great color rendering seem weaker and less vibrant than it really is (since how good colors look to the eye is partly due to how strongly they contrast against darker areas on the screen).

The presence of local dimming, even of the limited sort that edge-lit LCD TVs like the X850F are limited to, would have definitely boosted the above problems with contrast and black level in the X850, but because Sony deigned to exclude this feature from this model, it made the X850F’s biggest problem even worse. Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) Brightness:

Peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of a 4K TV display or a section of it as measured in units of brightness called nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing) under different conditions. Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage over different conditions or areas of illuminated display. In terms of how well it handles peak and sustained brightness for both conventional SDR (standard dynamic range) and for HDR (High dynamic range) content, the X850F compensates a bit for its poor black levels by being a pretty good performer.

For both SDR and HDR content, this television delivers fairly high average luminosity and more interestingly still, it delivers these high levels of brightness for each setting very uniformly regardless of how much of the screen is pumping out light. This is an impressive achievement and definitely wins the X850F some points on picture quality. The numbers below demonstrate what we mean:

SDR Brightness

  • Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 409 nits
  • Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 408 nits
  • Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 408 nits
  • Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 407 nits
  • Sustained 10% SDR brightness: 407 nits
  • Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 405 nits

HDR Brightness

  • Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 522 nits
  • Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 522 nits
  • Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 521 nits
  • Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 520 nits
  • Sustained 10% HDR brightness: 522 nits
  • Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 522 nits

Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) Color Delivery: The X850F’s color deliver is very good.

It’s not as excellent as we noticed it in the X900F or in any Samsung ultra-premium 4K HDR TV but it’s still very good. This television model supports full HDR color with 10-bit color support and wide color gamut coverage of over 92% of the DCI-P3 color space. These specs mean that when the X850F is showing high dynamic range video content, it delivers rich, vibrant and highly saturated color realism.

The TV’s problems with black levels and contrast weaken how well its color rendering seems to perform as far as the naked eye is concerned but in terms of measured performance, there’s nothing really wrong with the X850F’s ability to deliver quality color for almost any content. Color volume at high levels of brightness and in shadowy scenes is also very good. White balance delta E, color delta E and Gamma in the X850F sit at relatively decent levels of 0.25, 2.11 and 2.09 respectively.

We’ve seen better in cheaper 4K TVs but these aren’t bad values at all. Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) Motion Handling & Upscaling:

The Sony X850F is one relatively good TV for gamers who want to hit 4K and HDR notes with their console gaming if they have the right kind of accessory technology. We’ve seen better performance on this front from most of Samsung’s 4K TVs and, surprisingly, even their cheapest models as well as those of Vizio or TCL but the X850F still performs fairly well on the whole and with the benefit of its HDR color performance to boost things further. The following are the specific specs for its gaming performance in different console setups:

  • 4k @ 60Hz: 29 ms
  • 1080p @ 60Hz: 27 ms
  • 1080p @ 120Hz: 12.9 ms
  • 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 29.3 ms
  • 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 26.9 ms
  • 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 89.8 ms
  • 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 30 ms
  • 4K @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + 8 bit HDR: 30.2 ms
  • 4K with interpolation activated: 93 ms (leave the interpolation off)

We should also note that Sony has built the X850F with some truly superb compatibility with PC hardware for use as a giant sort of PC monitor.

This TV offers up full 4:4:4 chroma subsampling support and 1080p @ 120 Hz support when coupled with PC rigs. Other supported resolutions include those mentioned above in our input lag listings. Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)

Also Read:
Our complete guide to refresh rates and motion handling in 4K TVs

Connectivity

The Sony X850F, like all of Sony’s newer 4K TVs, offers up a full package of today’s now standard and essential advanced connectivity specs.

For connecting it to pretty much any external media device in the most useful possible ways, no user should have any problems with this model. In other words, it comes equipped with multiple HDMI, USB ports and other crucial connectivity slots. The television however lacks full HDMI 2.0 HDR supported bandwidth in all four HDMI ports.

Instead only ports 2 and 3 offer this. The following are its ports and their specifications: Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)

  • HDMI : 4 (2 and 3 come with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
  • USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
  • Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
  • Analog Audio Out 3.5 mm : 1
  • Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
  • Ethernet : 1
  • HDR10 support: Yes
  • Hybrid Log Gamma HDR support: Yes
  • Dolby Vision HDR: No but coming later in 2018 firmware update

The Sony XBR-X850F TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.

  • 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
  • 1 Passthrough ARC DTS
  • 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
  • 1 Passthrough Optical DTS

Sony X850F Pricing

The Sony XBR-X850F’s several different size ranges are selling for the following prices found in the links below at the time of this writing.

Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon links for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this model.

Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)

Check the Sony XBRX850F 4K HDR LCD TV (2018 Model) on Amazon
Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F)
4.7Sony XBR-X850F 4K UHD HDR LCD TV Review (XBR65X850F, XBR75X850F, XBR85X850F) – 4 Reviews

Check 65 inch, 75 inch, 85 inch Sony XBR65X850F Price
Story by 4k.com

Solo: A Star Wars Story Has Lots to Show, Nothing to Say

Last year, George R.R. Martin – the author of A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels that have been adapted at HBO – said that of the several Game of Thrones spin-off ideas in development, not even one touched upon the period immediately prior to the current saga. “There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know,” he added. Instead, Martin wants them to show parts of his universe that haven’t already been talked about.

On the other hand, the powers that-be at Lucasfilm – under Disney’s ownership – are more than happy to take the safer route and expand on events and characters we already know about, as it guarantees a financial windfall by drawing most if not all existing fans of the franchise. Partly thanks to Harrison Ford, Han Solo is one of the most famous characters in pop culture, let alone Star Wars. Telling his origin story, as the new standalone Star Wars film – Solo, out May 25 worldwide – does, is the definition of low-hanging fruit.

What makes that problem worse is that even before it starts, the big pieces of the puzzle are already in place. Owing to the original trilogy – now retroactively titled Episode IV, V and VI – that ran from 1977-1983, we know Han will meet Chewbacca, the two will then encounter Lando Calrissian, from whom Han will win the Millennium Falcon in a bet, with which he’ll make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. That’s not a lot of room to create a meaningful story – written by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan – in addition to the fact there’s no stakes for our heroes.

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On top of that, Solo: A Star Wars Story is also dealing with a limited arc for a young Han, since he has to end up as the cocky and overpromising guy Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet in the Mos Eisley cantina. And that means the film can’t attribute qualities to him that you wouldn’t normally associate with him, even though he’s about a decade younger in this than in the original trilogy.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t try; Solo has moments where it pokes fun at his ill-advised bravado, but it’s still filling in the portrait of a guy who thinks he can do everything himself. Solo: A Star Wars Story begins by introducing the pair of Han (Alden Ehrenreich, from Hail, Caesar!) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke, from Game of Thrones) on their homeworld of Corellia, who are in love and languishing in slum-like conditions. Years later, Han enlists in the Imperial forces, meets a criminal of dubious morals named Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson, from War for the Planet of the Apes), and then takes on a job for crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany, from Avengers: Infinity War).

That sets Solo in motion and brings other characters into the picture. What unfolds from there is a part heist and part Western film, as Han and Co. go about achieving their mission – it involves stealing something ultra-valuable and getting it somewhere else as quickly as possible – while making new friends and new enemies along the way. The former involves Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), the captain and original owner of the Millennium Falcon, and his first mate, a hilarious and outspoken droid called L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, from Fleabag).

There are bit part roles for Westworld’s Thandie Newton and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) as well.

Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Like the previous standalone chapter Rogue One, there’s nothing about the Jedi and lightsabers here, and even less about the Empire or the Force.

Similarly, all the new characters Solo: A Star Wars Story introduces are ultimately dispensable too, since none of them can show up in later entries. But unlike Rogue One, the film, seemingly with an eye on potential sequels – Ehrenreich has a three-picture deal in his contract – creates subplots that aren’t tied up properly by the end. It’s here that Solo even connects to the prequel trilogy from 1999-2005.

Unfortunately, there’s little justification for a second visit, when the first is rather unimaginative. Save for a few scattered moments, the film doesn’t grab you until an hour in. And though it’s got the makings of some unique action set-pieces, they aren’t handled in a way that would make them memorable.

Even when the Millennium Falcon is being attacked by TIE fighters late-game, there’s no sense of the excitement that was apparent in J.J. Abrams’ 2015 soft reboot The Force Awakens, and Rian Johnson’s 2017 follow-up The Last Jedi. Part of this stems from the botched handling of the production.

The original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie), were fired over four months into filming, after clashing with Lucasfilm execs including Kasdan over their directorial approach. They thought they were hired to bring their comedic flavour to Star Wars, but their heavy improvisational technique – the duo sometimes shot a dozen takes that weren’t always in line with what the script said – didn’t sit well with Kasdan, and they were replaced by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind), who’s seen as a safe choice. It’s a testament to Howard’s experience that he not only managed to keep the film on track for its scheduled release, but that Solo: A Star Wars Story feels cohesive despite being the product of two entirely different visions: according to a behind-the-scenes report, 70 percent of the finished film is Howard’s, with the rest being the work of Lord and Miller.

But because Howard was hired last minute to simply bring the script to life, the film lacks an authoritative touch and ends up feeling like a by-the-numbers bland heist film.

Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm Moreover, less than six months after Star Wars took some of its boldest steps courtesy Johnson – including a welcome dressing down of why trigger-happy hotshots can cause more harm than good – Solo is happy to play it easy.

A few unexpected twists towards the end, and the work of its top-notch cast – Waller-Bridge is excellent and powers some of the film’s best moments, Glover is instantly charismatic and a scene-stealer as the trailers promised, and Clarke lands the note she’s asked to play, that of an intriguing yet enigmatic female lead – simply aren’t enough. Despite how damning the preceding paragraphs may sound, Solo isn’t a bad movie per se. It’s just fine.

The film will help buff up the encyclopaedia pages in a certain period, give Disney another chance to sell more Star Wars merchandise, and lays the groundwork for sequels leading up to Episode IV – A New Hope (“Star Wars” for the purists.) But it never takes off in a fashion that would please its titular hero – John Williams’ iconic soundtrack is also on a leash for the longest time, unfortunately – mainly because it’s too predictable to make any wild manoeuvres. We’ll never know what Lord and Miller would’ve done with Solo: A Star Wars Story, even as the underlying story would’ve been the same. It’s also possible their version would have been horrible, and that Lucasfilm was right in removing them before it was too late.

But if Star Wars is going to keep swinging the pendulum back even as its world expands – reports abound of more standalone chapters with Obi-Wan and others, alongside all-new stories from Johnson, Favreau, and Game of Thrones creators – the least it can do is not be borderline cynical about it.

Detroit Become Human Review

When you’re done with PS4-exclusive Detroit: Become Human’s lengthy story, the game asks you if any of its moments resonated with you. For us, almost all of it’s near sci-fi tale did, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Developed by French studio Quantic Dream whose previous work includes adventure titles like Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls, it’s a narrative-driven game where the plot takes precedence over everything else.

And while the other two had some intriguing twists you likely didn’t see coming, Detroit: Become Human’s futuristic trappings do little to hide its big reveals which can be seen coming a mile away. Set in a world where the US is at odds with Russia, self-driving cars don’t crash, and most jobs have been taken by robotic androids, Detroit: Become Human has you switching between Connor, Kara, and Markus. They’re three androids all with very different objectives.

Connor was created with the sole purpose of hunting down rogue androids, or deviants as they’re known for turning on their human masters. Kara’s objective is to escape the city with Alice, a small human girl in her care. Markus is the leader of an Android uprising, fighting for the same rights and freedoms for his kind that humanity enjoys.

Despite starting with a bang — having you in the role of Connor negotiating with a deviant holding a child at gunpoint on a building rooftop — Detroit: Become Human quickly settles into a slow burn. As Kara, you’ll clean a house and do laundry while Markus’ arc begins with the mundane task of buying paint from a store. While these chapters exist to give you an idea of the game’s world and the motivation of its characters, it makes it a bit of a chore early on.

So much so that we preferred Connor’s story arc over the other two due to the interesting scenarios you find yourself in.
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From tracking down deviants with a fetish for pigeons to dealing with Hank Anderson, grizzled human detective partner, events of Connor’s chapters stand out compared to the menial busywork of playing as Kara or Markus.

Even when the other two’s narratives finally fire on all cylinders, they don’t feel as polished, memorable, or entertaining as Connor’s and are the most predictable segments of the bunch. Which is saying a lot since Connor’s arc appears to be heavily inspired by the works of Isaac Asimov — I, Robot and The Caves of Steel in particular — making how it will play out rather obvious. However Detroit: Become Human isn’t without its merits.

There are elements of gameplay not too dissimilar to Telltale’s adventure games like Batman and Guardians of the Galaxy, so there’s no learning curve or fancy new control schemes to learn. You’ll press buttons indicated on the screen to perform actions – depending on whose arc you’re playing, this could be anything from washing dishes to choosing the right words to incite an android rebellion, each with different consequences leading to varied outcomes. Compared to Quantic Dreams’ last two games, the aforementioned Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls, it’s easy to pull off Detroit: Become Human’s many button prompts and half circle analogue stick movements.

It sticks to a control scheme that’s similar to the other two games, but the added polish and refinement makes it far from awkward. The controls feel just right. Coupled with smooth animations, it even makes lightning fast action sequences a joy to pull off towards the end of the game.

Furthermore, at the end of each chapter you see a flowchart of your decisions. It makes you aware of what you’ve done and what you could have done, tempting you into another playthrough with the promise of in-game currency or points that you can use to unlock content such as the game’s soundtrack, early sketches, character backgrounds, and so on. It’s a bold move as it lays the entire story bare, right down to the smallest decision.

Quantic Dream hopes it’ll bring completionists back, though to us, it seems like a studio is being transparent about the limitations and scope of the game. In an industry fuelled by hype, keeping your expectations in check seems like a welcome change.

In addition to this, Detroit: Become Human looks great. Be it highly detailed facial expressions on humans and androids or slick lighting effects and reflections, it’s a treat to look at on the PS4 Pro. Backed up by a fantastic soundtrack and voice acting that feels genuine and you have a title with stellar production values.

That said, these additions do little to enhance a derivative story. Most choices or actions are essentially binary, forcing you to choose between usual video game tropes such as non-violent and pacifist options or prioritising capturing a deviant over saving a loved one. It doesn’t help that most characters you interact with feel one dimensional and easy to read, making it simple to gain an outcome you desire.

Clocking in at around 25 hours, it’s not a short game by any means and it could go up to 40 hours should you decide to complete everything, though not all of it is as good as it could be. Overall, Detroit: Become Human is a gorgeous game that brings some welcome improvements over Quantic Dream’s earlier work, but one that is ultimately flawed due to its predictable plot. Pros:

  • Fantastic production values
  • Story flowchart is an honest representation of what you get
  • Connor’s story arc is entertaining

Cons: ?

  • Other arcs are a slow burn?
  • Overall story is predictable?
  • One dimensional characters

Rating (out of 10): 6

Gadgets 360 played a review copy of Detroit: Become Human on the PS4 Pro.

The game is out on May 25 priced at £60 in the US and Rs.

3,999 in India.


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