Paintball is fun, but at least some of your friends probably aren’t into getting bruises for fun. The next best thing has got to be laser tag, but what if you don’t live near an arena, or don’t want to pay $20+ per game?
This set of four pistols and two Ironman-style laser gloves, for us at least, offers the best combination of value and functionality. Although you won’t get the benefit of a real arena’s special layout and ear-popping sound system, you will recoup the entire purchase price as soon as you’ve played one to three games at home. The futuristic design doesn’t hurt either: who doesn’t want to look cool while slaughtering their friends?
The lasers all use the same wavelength, so you can add an effectively unlimited number of players by buying additional sets. These can also be divided into four teams, indicated by differently colored lights showing up on the weapons and vests. There’s no FFA option, though: friendly fire from your own teammates won’t be registered. Each gun offers four different firing modes for additional versatility. They also vibrate when firing or after being hit, which is a nice touch, though the sounds they make are a little basic.
There are, of course, a couple of things that distinguish this set from professional laser tag equipment. First, there’s no wi-fi or other wireless connection to a central computer, meaning that keeping count of the “lives” of each player is done on their own rig.
Each uses AA batteries, but rechargeables work and you can expect 5 to 8 hours of play from each set. You can hit targets at up to 150 feet away in near-darkness and somewhat less in daylight. This isn’t quite the length of a football field, but should be all you really need around the house, in a park, or in whatever empty building you can get someone to loan to you.
The biggest difference between this set and those you’ll find for rent in an arena, unfortunately, lies in quality and reliability. Professional laser pistols are made to outlast thousands of games, including those in which players fall down or bump into one another. This one is designed to be as cheap as possible, but not for extended or rough use. As long as you can accept that these laser pistols are meant for a few fun parties and not the long run, though, you’ll probably find them worth the money.