Garage Inc. is yet another take on the time management genre. Rather than preparing food or growing flowers, you’re an Italian immigrant mechanic, named Angelo in 1920s era Chicago, trying to make ends meet in his new auto repair shop. Things take a turn for the worse when the mob becomes involved.
Garage Inc. features addictive gameplay, fully voiced, well drawn cutscenes and good sound. It lacks any sort of social gaming support, such as Game Center however.
Garage Inc. plays much like other time management games. Initially, only Angelo is controllable and as cars arrive at your garage you move them into your shop and use him to diagnose the problem with the car. Then you move them to the service bay and use your staff to fix the car’s problems. Then you use Angelo to take the customer's money and move onto the next car. Because only Angelo can diagnose problems and take money from finished jobs the game forces a tight “assembly line” approach to gameplay, where you move Angelo as efficiently as possible and have staff already at the bay before a car with aliments relating to their specially arrive. Angelo himself can repair any problem, but he does very slowly, tying him down while other cars are waiting to be checked out.
Very soon you’ll feel overloaded using just Angelo, but as you work though the game, more staff can be unlocked and more car problems crop up, such as electrical or engine problems. You also have your garage upgraded with more service bays to handle more cars at once.
There are a good collection of staff to choose from and more are unlocked as you progress, each with a different wage and skill level, so you need to gauge how much business you’ll see when deciding whenever to use expensive staff or not.
The standard gameplay is broken up with minigames that take the form of odd jobs you do for the mob. These range from painting a police logo using stencils and the correct colors, to replacing the suspension on a hooch car. These are fun and they do much to keep you playing, as you look forward to the next minigame.
Graphically the game is great. Fully voiced, great looking cutscenes tell the story and the in-game graphics are good looking and distinct. It’s easy to tell what problems a car has and who’s who on your staff. Garage Inc takes full advantage of the iPad’s gorgeous screen and the result is an eye catching game that’s a joy to look at.
Soundwise, the game is average. Besides the great voice-acted cutscenes, there are the normal sounds you’d expect to hear, such as car horns and cash registers. There is no speech in-game however and car repair actions make no sound. Some good bangs and grinds would bring a bit of atmosphere. Music consists of old style club music that could come out of any old mobster movie and is very catchy.
Unfortunately Garage Inc. is marred by some sloppy touch controls. Sometimes when you try to move something the tap won’t register and sometimes it seems to get “stuck”, as you’ll keep selecting a bay rather than a staff member, even if you tap directly on them, until you tap another bay, then tap the person, as this seems to fix it.
Cash also doesn’t have any use in the game, so it’s odd that the game encourages you to hire cheaper staff members. The only advantage to hiring cheap staff is that you make more profit in a day and can thus pay off more off your mob loan, but the difference between staff pay is small. As the game has no upgrades to purchase, or anything to spend money on, the amount you make is largely meaningless. This is in sharp contrast to Fiona's Flowers, also made by Transgaming.
The total lack of Game Center or Openfeint is a major bummer and it’s a real head scratcher why Transgaming neglected this. As it is there are no achievements or anything to strive for, so once you finish the game there’s no real replay value.
Garage Inc. is a fun game that follows the basic formula of time management games, but dresses it in a good story and great graphics and sound. If you like time management games, this game is a competent and enjoyable example of the genre, even if it has a few control issues.