This weekend I hit the road for St. Catharine's, ON Canada to play the latest from Laserforce, the new Gen 8 Infinity system, during the very first weekend it was open for the public to play at Parkway Lanes Sports and Entertainment.
It was definitely worth the drive across the border to get to be the first from my site (obviously with the exclusion of Sanch and Beanz) to get to try this new gear for myself. I knew that the guys had just completed the installation of the system last week and I was appreciative that Tom, the owner of the facility, welcomed me to be among the first to play at this new arena.
We entered the briefing/vesting area...
...and I got my first peek at the new Gen 8 packs.
They have really upped the game with Gen 8 in so many ways! The lights are encased in opaque plastic and the shield has a sharp, new redesign that features a digital screen in the center with the pack or player name lit up right on the front. There's also a screen on the back.
The phaser feels sturdy and solid with a rubberized plastic grip and the opaque plastic gives a very different lighting effect from the blinking LEDs that I'm accustomed to seeing. It also has a much larger, rectangular button on the side for special features.
One of the really distinctive features of Gen 8 is the touch screen on the phaser that gives you up to date info during the game.
You can change things from the particular sound associated with your shots (which is of dubious value, but a fun feature anyhow) and the language.
And then we had a chance to go into the 3400 square foot arena that was built where previously they had more bowling lanes. Tom told me that four lanes had been removed to make room for an impressive arcade and then another six were taken out to make room for the laser tag. If you look carefully at the floor you can get an idea of where the bowling lanes had been.
But I can promise most people won't be looking at the floor when they walk into the bright and colorful (and, yes Beanz, with very nice, artistic lighting!) arena designed by Art Attack. They used every inch of the space well to create a really impressive atmosphere.
I had heard that they decked it out with all the bells and whistles. There are a TON of targets in this arena! Some were typical, like the bases, beacons and generator...
...and others were programmed in ways I was surprised to see. For example, one target in the middle appeared to be a circuit of three small targets (one on each wall) that had to be sequentially hit to then shoot the final one in a rectangular base housing.
At least I think that's what was happening...it was different!
And I enjoyed getting to take control of the gate and see that work in the game as I've only played at one other site that had this particular feature.
Ten of us went in to play the first game, an individual (but not color ranked) game and here are a few of the players who were among the very first to enjoy a game here.
We all enjoyed meandering the maze and taking our shots.
As I am a level six, of course I had to take three shots to deactivate an opponent. Now, what I'm about to say is anecdotal from my first game and I am NOT certain that I perceived this correctly, but I'll relay what I thought I experienced anyway. To my mind it felt like there was a bit of difference in the three shot timing. It felt like I was able to lock on a bit earlier while a player was down that I could take my first shot, but there was a beat in between and I could not complete the three shot sequence until they came back up. I would like for someone to corroborate what I "think" I was noticing there, but in the middle of a game sometimes it's tough to tell for sure what has just happened! :)
After that first round was finished I went in again, this time with Tom, just to play around with the gear and take better note of what was going on. As I'm not used to looking down at a screen it took me a moment to get acclimated to watching as the meters on the screen went up and down. Honestly, I will need to spend a little more time getting fully adjusted to the differences in the gear, but I can already tell that Gen 8 is going to be fun to learn to play to the fullest!
And when we were done I learned a bit more about the facility.
Parkway Lanes has just celebrated 60 years as part of the St. Catharine's community. While it is an impressive bowling alley with 22 regular lanes and 8 VIP lanes along with the arcade...
...and now laser tag, it is also part of a larger facility including a restaurant, 22,000 square foot convention center and 181 room hotel all part of the property. Although this time I was only in town for a day trip, as a traveler I think it is VERY handy to know that there's a hotel right there before making my next visit. Parts of the facility are still being remodeled, but I hope to return to see the completed project and have another opportunity to play tag here because I had such a great time getting to experience Gen 8 for the first time.
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com