In case you've been stuck under a rock for the good part of the year, the big feature that the new LTAR line boasts is the use of iphone/ipod touch app support to give the tagger an all new augmented reality HUD. What this means is you can 'see' all sorts of cool stuff appearing- the targeting/lock on system, actual blaster bursts, even air strikes which also means you can essentially play on your own against the app's AI.
This is all very cool, and I am quite intrigued, but I have to be honest with you, I myself am not quite sure this is the laser tag game for me. Happy to be proved wrong. My thoughts after the jump.
There's a strong belief that ultimately, we all love first person shooter video games. And given the business that IS FPS video games, there's enough evidence to support this assumption. So often we hear "real life video game"- some things are a stretch, and some things not so much. Things like respawns, or ammo reloads or health packs all came from the video game world, even real world physical games like Humans vs Zombies take their cues from said elements. SO it makes sense in theory that in developing an electronic shooter system you'd incorporate what "works" .
The thing is though, is I'm concerned with the fact that it's just a lil bit of overkill. Wowwee's Light Strike line was just chock a block with features from a video game, with multiple weapons, health packs, shields, respawns; it had it all and yet there was something about it that just felt.. cluttered and over complicated.
Flash back a few years and the Tiger Electronics Laser Tag Team Ops (LTTO) was an awesome attempt at laser tag where players could host games, choose from a number of different rules, keep score and so forth, but it was just too complicated again for the casual player. It got to a point where so many players just resorted to playing "every man for himself" - mainly because it was the simplest way to get the game going.
The line that I personally felt worked the best was the Laser Tag Phoenix LTX. Simple to get going, simple to score, just enough on the features without making it too complicated. The guns looked awesome, easy to work and game play was quick, fast and furious; exactly the way it should be.
And that's the thing. In my opinion, for home laser tag to be successful, it needs to be simple and easy to pick up with minimal fuss. The basic game is simple- you run, you hide, and you shoot and you get shot at. It's faster and more accurate than a Nerf battle, and while you cannot see a projectile leave the blaster you get instant gratification on whether you hit your target or not. And that's really what makes laser tag fun; the rest of the stuff to be honest often just gets in the way. And if you wanted the other stuff.. chances are you might just fire up Modern Warfare 3.
For me personally, I've become sold on the now discontinued UbiSoft Battle Tag line. Other than the annoying issues with getting the 'Ubi Connect' set up with the laptop, the actual game play itself is exactly the way I like laser tag to be (the taggers also look tough too) and the closest thing to 'classic' laser tag that I'd experienced since the 80's.
So back to the upcoming Lazer Tag Augmented Reality line. The LTAR line seems to have a boot load of functionality, but for me it seems like it could detract a lot from why I like laser tag in the first place. Watching thru a screen rather than over at your target; screwing around with different weapons thru a touchscreen UI- its all just sounds a little too much. The other issue that I don't have an iPhone or an iPod touch (personal issues with Apple products means its very unlikely I ever will buy one alone) so I'm wondering if these blasters are going to be enough to convince me to acquire one? I'm not sure. Also as far as group play is concerned, requiring my close knit of friends to install the app let alone own an iPhone (who many also don't own Apple products) is looking quite unlikely. This isn't a casual user sounding product.
That's just me though; I am still very keen to give them a go but the amount of players I'll be able to muster up for a decent game is looking pretty low:(