The Game Lab Project Review

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Title: The Game Lab Project
Developer: Blackjack21
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download: 81 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

There are a lot of genres that are very rare on the PlayStation Vita.  Among these genres is Survival Horror and, more apparent, the shooter genre.  With genres that are missing or scarce on the Vita though, there are options to be able to do this with other ways.  You can go through older games with PSP and PS1 games.  However, as far as new games are concerned, there are also other options to consider.  One such option is the ever-growing library on PlayStation Mobile.

Ever since its birth, PS Mobile has been bringing a lot of unique games to the Vita, though they’re more bite-sized and lower-end indie title.  However, ever since Unity 3D became available on PSM, there have been a lot more 3D games coming out, week by week.  This is allowing developers to add more of the genres that we don’t have much of.

The shooting genre, for example, has gotten some PSM games based off of Unity 3D.  One we reviewed was called On Call, which was a short sci-fi adventure that was part FPS (First Person Shooter) and part aerial combat.  Today, we have another game for you, showcasing what PSM can do, as far as shooters can go.  Here is our official review of the recent title, The Game Lab Project.

Story

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There is a story to The Game Lab Project, but there’s not a lot to it.  This isn’t going to be some epic tale of a journey around the world to stop an evil empire or anything like that.  This is more set in a semi-reality world.  There are two buddies who like to hang out and mess around with technology.  In their off-time, they have an arcade machine and two Virtual Reality Simulators to have some fun with gaming, trying to beat each other’s high scores in shooting arena with soldiers and zombies.

The story isn’t anything great, nor is it what you want to play this game for.  The game is all about the gameplay, but there is a storyline to the game to give you some ground settings for the scenario that is presented before you.  However, it is very minimal and is just there to lay out the game’s environment and show why you do the things that you do.

Gameplay

The gameplay of the game is actually a couple different genres.  You basically have four areas you can go.  The first is the Lab, where everything is.  This is where you start out at.  Then, there are the two VR Simulation Rooms and the Arcade Machine.  Not a lot of complexity to where you can go, which is intended by the developer.  There won’t be any confusing in getting from one place to the next.

When you’re in the Lab, you can go into one of the facilities or use the PC.  When you go into the PC, you can customize the game.  This is from the character you wish to play as.  You can only choose from the two characters of the game.  The PC also gives you access to the Control Scheme and the Credits, and lets you adjust the colors of your weapons.  When you’re in the VR Simulators, you have firearms, so you can customize whether you want your guns to be Red, Blue, Cyan, Magenta, among other colors.

The two VR Simulators put you in small arenas with enemies.  There are two areas, the Solider Area and Zombie Area.  The Soldier area simulates the inside of a facility.  There are pillars around you can take cover behind.  The Zombie Area is set up more like a forest, giving you small trees around the place to run around as the enemies are chasing you around.  Each of these areas is completely 3D and you roam around with firearms.  When you start out, you have a weapon and a combat knife.  In the Soldier area, though, enemies drop weapons when they’re defeated, and you can pick up and use those weapons.  In the Zombie Area, though, you always have only a Shotgun and Knife.

The idea of the VR Arenas are for downing as many enemies as you can before they take you down.  You can use your weapons to deal damage and take them down, just like you can in other shooting games.  You also have health to watch.  Your health will regenerate after you don’t take damage for a set amount of time, so you can run to try to prolong your game.  You take down enemies to try to increase your Kill Score until you are taken out, though tackling each arena is different.  Fighting Zombies and fighting Soldiers can feel very different.

The shooting implementation actually works really well.  While On Call played like a fixed shooter like Doom, this game plays a lot like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor.  You can go into Scope Mode, switch weapons, dash, slash with the knife, and more.  The damage you take, controlling the weapons, and more feels really comfortable and right on par with other shooters.  It was implemented very well.

The last area is the Arcade Machine.  This gives you a Coffee game to participate with.  This is a 2D game, unlike the others.  In this game, you are in a side-scrolling area.  Coffee Mugs will fall from the top of a police building and your job is to catch those mugs before they hit the ground.  If you let so many fall, it’s game over.  Your goal is to get as high of a score as possible before you lose the lives.

All in all, this is all the game has to it.  It’s more like a Survival Mode for a shooter, along with the Coffee Mini-game.  One run through each mode and you can probably do what you can in about 30 minutes or so.  It’s definitely not a long game, but more for fun pick-up-and-play for shooter fans.

Controls

The controls for the game are unique in that the game has 2D and 3D elements.  The big thing is that the touch screen is not needed for anything in the game, from menus to gameplay.  This also may be part of what enables this to be one of the few new PlayStation Mobile games that is fully compatible with the PlayStation TV.

When in the coffee minigame or lab, you use the Left Analog or the D-Pad to move around.  You can also hold the face buttons to be able to dash in the Coffee game.  Moving in the 3D areas is done with the left Analog Stick and the camera is moved by the Right Analog Stick.  You can also use the two triggers for gun control.  Holding the L button down will enter “Aim Mode’ to enable scopes and more accurate firing.  The R button can be used to fire your arm.

The rest of the controls are with the face buttons.  You can hold down the X button to dash for a little bit of time.  You can also use the Square button to reload the currently-equipped weapon and the Triangle to switch which weapon you’re using.  The controls of all of this are the same on the PlayStation TV, with L and R controlled by L1 and R1.

Presentation

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As far as visuals are concerned, this is a game that has 2D visuals and 3D visuals.  The 2D visuals of the game look crisp and smooth.  There aren’t a lot of blurred pixels, even when it’s on the PSTV.  The 3D visuals also look smooth.  It has more of a cell-shaded style and looks similar to that of games like Borderlands 2, though not as detailed.  There is a lot of detail in the guns and the enemies, though some of them slide on the floor instead of run.

The game plays well, for the most part.  The load times are nice and short.  Whether it’s booting the game or going into the 3D areas, you won’t be waiting more than 3-5 seconds.  The 2D areas run very smooth, though there is a little clipping in the 3D areas.  It’ not a lot but there is a little lag in some animations when there are a lot of enemies on the screen, at once.

Summary

The Game Lab Project is a sign that PS Mobile can handle and create solid First-Person Shooting experiences.  While the game doesn’t have a lot to it and feels more like a survival mode than anything else, this is $0.49 well-spent for shooting fans looking for a small pick-up-and-play game. 

7/10

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