The majority of the laser tag I play is traditional, so on the rare occasions that I get to play tactical it is always an interesting experience. When I paid a visit to American Paintball Coliseum in Phoenix, AZ I had a terrific time playing with the iCOMBAT Barracuda system with the staff who gave me a great game in a really unique arena atmosphere at their multi-functional facility where they offer paintball, airsoft and laser tag.
The manager, Alex, put together a game for me to join with staff members Travis, Marie and Jacob.
We each selected a Tippmann paintball marker that had a Barracuda all-in-one laser tag unit attached above the barrel.
Before playing our first game I was given a tour of the indoor arena that is used for both airsoft and laser tag. They have a separate arena for paintball. I've noticed that tactical tag arenas often look intentionally like a war zone and this was no exception, which gave it a "battle worn" kind of feel. However, it had some unique elements throughout and the space had multiple rooms and themes ranging from the refrigerators (where you could open the doors for cover) to the kitchen...
There is a sniper's nook with steps leading to a raised platform...
...and my favorite piece of decor would have to be the airplane!
I love to play in interesting environments and this was definitely going to be the case here. My initial thought was that this space would be too large for a game with only four people (they can accommodate significantly larger groups), but it turned out to be a great space even for a small game. We finished the walk-through and got ready to play.
This was only the second time I have ever played using the Barracuda model and I selected the one called Tango. The entire game is housed within the box unit on top of the marker with sensors on the front and both sides, so I employed some strategy by holding the Tippmann marker on its side to reduce the amount of sensor that would be visible while I maneuvered around the space. In traditional arenas I use my eyes to discern where my opponents are by watching for indicators of light from the vests. However, tactical requires a different way of playing and for this game I listened to identify the whereabouts of the others. I stepped very lightly and took my shots in bursts. This strategy seemed to serve me well because when the game was over (and we deliberately opted for a short game) I had the high score on the board.
I played as Tango, Travis was Rambo, Jacob was Predator and Marie was Juggernaut. This screen looked familiar to me from the other iCOMBAT games I had played. The icons indicated how many tags you got (gun icon), how many times you were tagged (skull) and the medic sign indicated that health was set to 50 for all of us for a one shot tag.
We took a break between games, and I had a chance to watch through the observation window as an airsoft group went in to play. I know nothing about airsoft so I asked a few questions. Then Conrad, one of the airsoft players, gave me a demonstration of some of his "grenade" equipment that can be used in airsoft before he joined us for another game of tag. It was really a great time and I learned a lot from playing in this kind of environment which is so different from the typical places where I play traditional tag. I would love to return to play again! Since they have other locations in Denver and Brighton, CO perhaps I will have an opportunity on my next trip to this part of the country. Thank you to Alex and the entire staff of American Paintball Coliseum for providing me with one of the most memorable laser tag experiences I had while in Arizona!
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