Lazy Tag: Playing a Laser Tag Video Game On My Computer
Yesterday was the first time in probably more than a year that I did not spend any part of my weekend playing out at a laser tag arena. I was thoroughly worn out after a long day in the humidity, having set up and hosted a yard sale in the morning before doing a quick change and emceeing a pageant in the afternoon (yeah, I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it was exhausting!), so I decided that it was not necessary for me to drive an hour and a half to play tag last night. Instead I decided that this would be a good time for me to review a PC video game that I've wanted to share for awhile. Let me tell you about my experience playing Laser Arena by TrainWreck Studios.
I call this "Lazy Tag" only because I didn't have to physically get up and run around. :)
First I must make VERY clear that I am NOT a video gamer. I know NOTHING about the things most gamers are interested in and so this review is from a very different and very novice perspective. I will not talk about graphics because I'm pretty sure any lacking would be on the part of my computer. Also, this game came loaded on a disk for WIndows (is CD-Rom even still a thing?) so the fact that I have a DVD drive on my computer was a plus, but might also reflect that the version I was playing is a couple of years old. Regardless, from my limited view as a non-gamer with only appreciation for the laser tag aspects, I must say I really like this video game!
The first thing I did after installing it was set up my player characteristics.
I typed in my player name and could choose whether my character would play on the red or green team...I chose red. And then the aesthetic of the character body gave an option for different hair colors or whether to wear a "Lazer Tag" type helmet or not. My only gripe about this was there appeared to be only male character images to choose from. Let's not forget that...
While the helmet resembled "Lazer Tag" (or possibly even a nod to Photon) the vest imagery was very reminiscent of LaserTrek, as was some of the cover artwork, so I imagine that to be the system that most inspired the look for the characters in the game.
This could be a multi-player game or you could play against multiple computer opponents in a choice of game modes and laser tag arena maps. Let me say, this they got spot on! And even though I there was a learning curve in me figuring out how to use the arrow key to move and the mouse built into my laptop to aim and fire this was a very impressive to me as an on screen representation of a 3D laser tag arena. As there are references on the packaging to video drivers and 3D accelerators (of which I know nothing) I imagine if you have those resources it would be even more realistic. But from my point of view this really captures the first person point of view while maneuvering through a laser tag arena.
Although there were several arena designs to choose from including Roundabout, The Pit and Fort Z, my favorite was the Blacklight Classic arena. It really looked like an arena I might play! With diamond shaped window cutouts for sniper shots and realistic angle-cut barriers this was to me the map that seemed closest to a real life location. Although they all had options for bounce pads to get you quickly between floors in the arenas, some seemed a bit less authentic than this one. Not that I'd complain if I got to experience a real world counterpart to any of them!
The game choices were also on point. Although I only played the Team Match and Free For All games, I appreciate that there are Domination, Duel and Mega Target formats to choose from as well. Since I am a beginner video gamer (and only just getting a handle on Domination in real arenas) I started with what I was most comfortable with.
The team match plays pretty closely to what you'd expect. If you are playing alone the computer will generate both teammates and opponents. If your goal is the high score you have to play better than the simulations for both sides! Moving forward, backwards and side to side with the arroe keys gave me direction. Using the mouse pad I was able to adjust my aim (using the X on the screen as my guide) and a single mouse click to fire my phaser. As your view is in first person the phaser is the only part of your character that you see on the screen. It took me a little while to get the hang of this, but once I did it was very clear how to target an opponent to earn big points by depleting their energy and tagging them out, which results in the player being "teleported" out of the arena to return after a few seconds in another location. There were also gem stations positioned throughout each map that can replenish energy (a variation on power-ups). If an opponent tags you out then your character would deactivate for a few seconds just like in a real laser tag game.
At the end you will see a scoreboard that reflects not only final score ranking, but also shots, hits and accuracy, just like you might expect to see in a real arena. I must say, this was a really good simulation of laser tag with all these little details included. I'm impressed! And I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who enjoys laser tag.
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com