Friday, August 5, 2011

System Opinions, Part 2

The "Lazer Tag" brand has been around for a long while.  It's become common practice between laser tag fans such as myself to differentiate this system from others since it is spelt with a "Z" in place of the "S" in "Laser".  This brand, while it has changed hands from manufacturer to manufacturer, has been handled by Shoot the Moon and has a long standing and favorable reputation among consumer-grade laser tag enthusiasts.  Rightfully so, as this system has always been innovative in it's approach to bringing exciting and unique features into the generally dismal market of laser tag at affordable prices.

The two systems bearing the brand name "Lazer Tag" that I have had the most exposure to have been Lazer Tag Team Ops (LTTO) and Lazer Tag Phoenix (reffered to as LTX).  These systems are compatible with each other and have many of the same basic features.  At their core is the setup which they rely on for equipment: a blaster with a sensor dome built-in.  No vest, no headbands, no wires.  It's a setup that has strengths and weaknesses when comparing it to other systems, which generally have the player wearing some kind of sensor on their head or chest.  It means that it's nearly impossible to shoot without being able to be shot at and the domed-nature of the sensor means coverage from multiple angles.

In my experience with this system, the seemingly 360 degree coverage of the domed blaster-mounted sensor is more like 280 degrees, since the player's body can block shots from behind.  It has been an issue that I have run into playing with this system when it comes to trying to pull off ambushes or sneak attacks.  However, it DOES make the flanking maneuver that much more effective, since shots from the side are possible.  While chest-mounted sensors can take hits from the front and back, they often don't receive hits from the right or left.  It's a trade off that can be both good and bad, but one that I have found can be frustrating to deal with when your opponent likes to turn around and run away safely.  During games, I have observed players essentially running laps around the park using this tactic and it is tiring to watch, let alone partake in.

Invulnerability for cowards aside, the system is also quite advanced.  LTTO introduced "Hosting", which connects players blasters through a wireless connection.  Detailed readouts display health, ammo, scores, and other game information.  Though it can be tricky to use at first, once you get the hang of hosting games, most folks never go back to the traditional "turn it on and go" start up.  While you can just start up a basic game without hosting, the LTTO system was clearly designed to flourish in Hosted games.

And that's where the LTX came in.  While the two systems are compatible together and LTX's can be hosted in LTTO games, the Lazer Tag Phoenix is designed to cater towards the "turn it on and go" types.  With a power switch that handles teams settings for Solo, Team 1, and Team 2 (Team 3 is another story ;) ), it's much more simple to set up and does away with the Hosting games and the game types that were available for it.  Instead of detailed readouts on an LCD screen, the LTX has an array of LED lights that indicate health and ammo.  In some ways, it's a watered down version of LTTO since it lacks tagger identification, built-in games, and hit confirmations.  However, the LTX line focuses more heavily on the ability to upgrade the basic blaster.  In it's basic form, it can fire 10 shots that land one hit each before needing to reload.  You can add firepower to the basic form by attaching a Shot Blast, which integrates into the basic blaster's form and adds a pump-action shotgun-style feature which lands 3 hits at close range.  It can also support a Green-dot sight on a rail on top.  You could also attach a TV Game module to the basic blaster and plug it into your Television to play a video game with the LTX at it's core.  The Shot Blast and Green Dot sight were just the tip of the iceberg for expansion of this system.  There were other attachments like the Shot Blast that never made it to production, like the RapidFire version.

Unfortunately, the LTX line did not make it to the market at a good time.  A rough economy made this more-expensive-than-usual system tough to sell and it's been a watered-down system ever since.  When it was first introduced, it included the Shotblasts and Green Dot sights for 2 blasters, along with a TV Module.  Now they're rebranded under the "Nerf" name in their basic forms and even more overpriced than they were WITH the additions.  This system could've been better on it's own if it had gotten the proper marketing and support it deserved.  STM is expected to release another new Laser Tag system in Winter of 2012, just in time for the apocalypse.

Bad luck or not, there are many good things going for both of these systems.  They are both high-end laser tag systems designed by an excellent company.  As a result, their quality is at a much higher grade than other competitors products.  The reverse-compatibility with these also helps you expand your arsenal and assortment of blasters.  These Lazer Tag brand blasters also have excellent sun filtering and are powerful enough to use in broad daylight (although night time is the best time to play ANY laser tag game).  I suppose my only 2 gripes are the invulnerability players have from behind and just the fact that these taggers are so stinkin advanced!  If they break or if something goes wrong, there isn't a whole lot you can do for them.  Thankfully since the quality on these are high, there's a low probability of this ever happening.  However, it DOES make things for modification junkies like myself a bitch-and-a-half since they're so darned complicated and integrated into their casings.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. It's too bad that the expansion potential of the Phoenix wasn't realized; the Shotblast and sight were the only attachments making it to production. Apparently, other accessories that the Phoenix was designed to support, will be up to the modders to develop when eventual patent disclosure reveals technical details.
    - Duncan