I only just got back from the girl's family birthday dinner so I haven't had a WHOLE lot of time to really give these new Light Strike blasters a proper run, but I thought I'd 1) upload a quick pic spam and 2) offer my initial reactions to this new system and at least put to rest some speculation on them.
On the whole, I like them, and I believe they're worth investing in more time and money to get more but whether they're BETTER than our beloved Phoenix LTX's? Well we're just gonna have to see over the weekend. Initial thoughts after the jump.
There are three different designs for the Light Strike "Strikers", with two different models in each- an assault rifle and a pistol. Functionality wise, rifles are a tad richer in features than the pistols with more in built weapons to choose from, the ability to accept blaster enhancing attachments, and a pretty nifty reload system, whereas the pistols are smaller and simpler with less in built weapons and no ability to add attachments. Whichever design you should choose is up to personal preference; although they are identical features wise, they do feel different in the hand so it'll be up to our own personal playing style as to which one you prefer.
For the purposes of this post, I'm sticking with the yellow Assault Striker SR 143 which I personally favour over the red DCR 012 that I also picked up at the same time. I also picked up a target vest, and already had the four rifle attachments.
Packaging looks pretty cool; slim line boxes that feature very cool art work and with environmentally friendly ties and inserts. In the box you get the blaster, a practice target and manual. The Strikers take 4 AA batteries, and the target takes 3AAA's. The Target vests also take 3AAA's.
The main reservation I've had about these blasters is their "paper jamz" design cues. The Light Strike taggers are very flat and skinny- all of the detail is printed on rather than using actual injected moulds which I wasn't REALLY a fan of. In person, they look a LOT better than I expected, but even so I still felt they looked kinda tacky. Noone in my world thus far has liked the form factor- words such as "cheap" and "dodgey" have been used often. What IS good though is although the detail is printed on, it's not a paper sticker but a shiny durable plastic so the wear should be minimal. Also, the general build of the tagger is quite solid; it is light weight but it feels well made and firm.
The assault strikers all use a reload button on the under carriage of the tagger. Depending on which one you get will be where that button is; I personally like the placement of this one compared to the red DCR-012 but each to their own. Once you're down on ammo, a quick slap of this button is like loading a new mag. It's pretty cool and one that rivals our Phoenix LTX's.
All of the Assault Striker's functionality is touch sensitive on the sides of the tagger. This actually is kinda cool, as it does away with physical buttons and dials so as technology it's pretty high tech, but it also is kinda cheap feeling too and for my part is prone to easy bumps and accidental access in game. You simply press down on the image and you can change your weapons, team (and in turn, colour), activate shields, single vs semi auto fire, even volume control.
To do most functions, you need to activate the the finger print sensor first- this is a big gimmick that actually is kind of annoying and actually not real; it doesn't recognise any finger prints and is merely a touch sensitive 'key' to move thru the menus. You can activate it using anyone else's finger.. or knuckle for that matter.
Different weapons add to the playability and can be changed within the game; each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses- the obvious being the more powerful the weapon for damage, the longer it takes to reload and uses up more ammo. I particularly was partial to the stealth blast which sounded like a silenced weapons which I liked. Also, when you add the attachment weapons later, you can toggle between them using the weapon selector, thus moving back and forth between a rapid fire machine gun and a long distance sniper cannon:)
The taggers have a LOT of lights and sounds. Indicators all over the blaster flash to tell you when you're in pre game mode, when you've chosen a team colour, when you get hit (and by what team colour), your health bars and ammo etc etc. Sounds are very loud and clear- and depending on which tagger you bought will depend on the type of voice that tells you what's going on in the game. I personally preferred the voice on the DCR-12 compared to my Admiral Ackbar-esque under water robot dude voice for my yellow tagger, but I got used to him:)
The front of the tagger has two barrels- an emitter and a receiver. You don't cover these up for obvious reasons.
There are four teams you can play for- blue, red, yellow and green. It's weird how you can actually change this mid game, though once you've paired your blaster with the target vest I don't think you can. You can play Light strike without the target vests, but these blasters don't seem to perform as well on their own like the Phoenix LTX's do and seem to have been designed to be operated WITH the target vests in tow.
The targets are included for target practice, but also can be added to home arena style games. they're pretty simple to use- turn them on and put them down and shoot as you see fit. If you hit it, it'll turn the colour of your blaster. So ideally, you'd set them up around the playing area and have a time limit game- the most targets displaying your colour the more points your team would get.
The vests fit quite well.. if you're a child or somewhat under weight. Now.. admittedly I am quite the unit chest and shoulders wise.. but still.. I'm kinda disappointed that the vests.. don't fit me. I don't have a gut, but my chest is 46" wide..and that means the straps out of the box do NOT reach over to connect around me.
The vests have a sensor on the shoulder and on the chest. The pairing to the blaster is kinda fiddly, but once that happens the chest sensor changes colour to be the same as whatever your colour is. Now you can be targeted on the blaster, shoulder and chest; every time you get hit there's lights and sounds to indicate it. The chest sensor also has indictors for health and life, as well as a nifty shield button u can press to..well shield yourself from enemy fire. Shields are not full protection but merely minimise your damage when you do get shot at.
There's a weird "respawn" function which you can do if you're down to zero health, but I can't understand why you'd have this if there's no inbuilt scoring system. If there's a lack of ref, it means anyone can just keep respawning and playing, thus taking away the whole "lives" thing in the first place- but I guess to be fair you'd just leave it alone and accept death like a man:P
The attachments though is what makes the taggers a LOT of fun. Adding a machine gun/rapid fire attachment makes your shots so much quicker and offers tactile vibration while it's going; the scope adds a long distance sniper cannon, complete with an in built red dot targeting system. There's a proximity alert enemy sensor that detects where opponents are, and a large damage "shot gun" refractor blaster that wipes out anything in its path. Adding these on top of the already fun in built weapons and you've got a lot of options to toggle thru during game play.
The Light Strike blasters are NOT compatible with the Lazer Tag Phoenix LTXs, and probably not the LTTO's either. I wasn't expecting them to be so.
So far, the initial response is they Light Strike system is definitely very rich in functionality and fun features. I'm looking forward to having a proper game; so far though ranges are pretty decent- hitting easily 20-30 metres (one side of my apartment to the other) but I'll have to do proper range tests in my underground carpark to see how well the stack up against the Phoenix LTX's. Although I don't like the way they look per se, they kinda grow on you and the functionality makes you feel ok to overlook their slightly tacky exteriors.
The main thing I really am still unsure about is so far, they just don't offer a decent sense of tactile feedback when firing. I mean, it sorta feels like.. just holding a slab of plastic. There's no real.. feel to them in hand; whereas the Phoenix LTX's had a good mix of sounds and actual recoil and physical reloading, these just feel a little lacking. My gf actually said "they feel like you're playing with paper guns" ironically. We haven't put them to a real gameplay test, so maybe during a real battle they'll come up the goods. The functionality is very exciting, but I'm wondering how well it'll work in actual gameplay and whether it's something you want to be doing, touching panels to toggle thru weapons.
They're also pretty expensive, but they might be worth it. I'll come back with more over the next few days, but happy to answer any questions that you may have for now. Either way.. this weekend's gonna be AWESOME!:P