“ Address: Kingsway East leisure Park / Douglas Road / DD4 8JX „
Life isn't all peaches and light. In fact, a lot of the time, life is an ugly, great, hulking mess. That right there is why you have to have a fantastic sense of humour or at least a decent hobby to get through it. I have at least one of those so this suits me just fine. Celebrating the mess that is life, we had all gathered to give cake and sing at a friend who had reached a certain number of years of messiness. Rather than just eating cake, however, it was decided that we'd all shoot each other in the head. Party on down.
Don't worry, I'm not part of some weird cult (at least I don't think I am!), it was all in the name of good fun. It had been decided that what Kev would really love (since the pirate themed place was way too expensive) was a good old game of Lazer Tag. The last time I had a game of Lazer tag was when I was about 16 (10 years ago) in a place called the Zapp Zone which has since shut down. It was all neon lights and hefty breast plates with a very sparsely kitted out arena clad in black felt and UV lights. As a kid I loved it, but as an adult I'd probably need a bit more to get me worked up to excitement. Enter Battlefield Live, a much more (well, a little) grown-up (spits) experience.
I didn't have a clue where the place was till about five minutes prior to leaving the house on the evening in question. Thankfully the place is really easy to find, especially if you are from Dundee. It's in the Douglas area, next to the huge Odeon Cinema and Gala bingo. The number 28 and 29 busses will take you from the city centre to within a few minutes walk of the leisure park area. You could grab a taxi for about a tenner from the city centre too, or, if you drive, pop your sat-nav on. There is an absolute tonne of parking so you'll never need to worry about that. Once you arrive, Battlefield Live is nestled just to the left of the Odeon Cinema. The entrance is quite small so you might not even realise it's there unless you're looking. The address for your sat-nav (if you have one) is as follows:
Kingsway East Leisure Park
Local phone number: 01382 690820
Central phone number: 0800 193 1006
They also have a website www.battlefieldlivedundee.co.uk if you fancy a lookie at the arena (I was too busy shooting to take pictures). It does claim there's nowhere like it in Scotland but there are at least three other laser tag arenas that I'm aware of. That being said, I've never been to them so I don't know quite how they compare.
===Enter stage left===
So, you've found your way there and you've noticed the tiny door from the outside. You'll be pleasantly surprised when you step through into a large open space with a small café area and lots of tables and chairs to sit in. This instantly means that if you are a parent who either doesn't want to join in the fun or doesn't want to cramp your kid's style, there's a place for you to sit and twiddle your thumbs and drink coffee. The café does hot food as well as sweets, snacks and slushies and the prices aren't too bad either. It's not the warmest area, however, so you may find you want to bring a coat. Once (if) you've been running around you won't notice it though. The toilets are just off this area too and I'd recommend going before you get into the arena if you need to!
When we arrived we had to wait around on a few other people arriving but the staff didn't seem to mind or be impatient which was good. Once we were ready, we were shown into a room through the back. This room was empty and was a place to leave our things if we wanted. It probably also doubles as a party room as they do offer that sort of thing. The girl in charge told us a bit about the games we'd be playing and we decided to split into tow teams. After we all shook off the re-kindled horrors of being chosen last in gym, we were given a box of hats for each team and allowed to rummage to find a suitable fit. The teams were now defined by their hats, either Black or Jungle Camouflage coloured. Hats chosen, we were shown into the equipment room and instantly turned into a bunch of children. Along two walls were racks of big chunky metal guns. Each team split up and went to one side and picked out their guns. Each gun had a chunky wire similar to that on an old telephone connecting it to a headband that strapped round each players head and had a little receptor on the front and back. Before the first head piece was in-situ, shots were going off all over the place, with people being sniped even by their team mates. Thankfully all the guns were reset before we moved into the arena.
I was impressed. I still had the terrible Tron-on-a-budget images in my head from the last experience I'd had with Lazer Tag. Instead of that (thankfully) we walked into what looked like a war torn city. Ok, so it maybe was THAT big, but it was big enough that our teams of 5 had plenty of room to run around and hide. There are two areas that are used as base camps with broken down vehicles, sandbags and oil drums everywhere. There are two floors of derelict housing with occasional bits of furniture in some of the rooms. The windows were all boarded up with wonky planks of wood and there were blackened holes in most of the walls. The atmosphere of the place was quite eerie and like a genuine war zone, minus the gore. It was quite dark when we went in which only serves to add to the illusion. Once the game started, sirens began to blare and I'm pretty sure you could hear things like helicopters in there too over all the gun shots. It's not too loud, but it could be quite creepy if you think about it too hard. There's also a smoke machine in the arena so be aware if you're sensitive to things like that. I would say, however, that on our visit the smoke machine wasn't exactly belching it out. There was a fine mist about the place but nothing too strong. Taking all of that into consideration, you'll really need to judge yourself how well your kids will cope with the place as I could see some of them not really enjoying the noise and the dark. If you're an adult though, I don't see you having much trouble with this.
You probably will have problems if you are in a wheelchair though as there are a lot of areas you'd not be able to access within the arena which is a shame. Most of the bottom floor wouldn't cause too much of a problem but even then, you might find yourself unable to hide from members of the other team. If you are worried, I'd suggest giving them a call or a visit before hand to scope the place out and see what you think as I'm sure they'd be more than happy to help.
There are a few different games you can play in the arena and if you make an advance booking you can usually decide. The most popular one (and the one we went for) was a Team Death Match which basically does what it says on the tin. Each team needs to find and "kill" the other team and the team with the most kills, wins. In out game it took three hits to "kill" someone and once you've been hit three times you have to make your way back to your team's base where you'll find a medical box. Hover your gun above it while pushing the button on it and you'll be restored to full health. Simple as that. We got half an hour of game time, being split into three separate games. At the end of each game the girl in charge told us which team had won and then got us to switch bases so as to shake things up a bit.
They also do a "capture the flag" and "hostage rescue" scenarios but I've not played them so I don't know what they are like. They also occasionally do special things like Zombie games where they hire actors in to play zombies in the arena. They were holding a Zombie event the day after we went as it was Halloween.
===Breaking the Law===
Some may not feel that a shootem' up live game is a good for their kids, and that's up to them. I have to admit though, I was slightly surprised that there are a lot of rules for playing in the arena, all in place to make an atmosphere of respect for your fellow players. It really does seem like it's geared towards a bit of engaging fun and goes to great lengths to break any connections with aggression. The rules are as follows:
Obey the game supervisor,
Respect other players
No physical contact
Do not climb on the props
Go carefully around corners
Keep your distance from others
Respect the equipment and hold your gun in two hands
Keep your hat and head band on whilst in the arena
No swearing was particularly difficult for us all, though as it was late at night, just our party and we were all adults, they let us away with that one. It was still quite funny correcting yourself with something more polite. A couple of times a four letter F word stopped half way through and turned into Golly gosh old chum.
===What did you think?===
My first impression was definitely a good one thanks to the arena. The guns were a touch annoying for me as I managed to pick up a faulty one but it was soon rectified and I was given another gun. Once I had a working gun, I had great fun. I was surprised to find out that when shooting your gun, you instantly give your position away with giant flashlights and gun noises making it that much more realistic. I also thought it was rather clever to have the targets on the players head as it meant you had to actually be careful about peeking out to check where other players were. Any Lazer tag I've played before has been done with chest plates which meant people could easily hide their targets while shooting you.
It may also be an idea, if you are going in teams, to see if you can't organise some colour schemes before hand as it's very difficult to tell the teams apart with just the hats in the dark arena. You can play the game with or without a "friendly fire" option if I remember correctly so you can make it that much more difficult by making any shot from any gun take a life off of any player if you want.
I realised when I got out that the arena is quite dusty (which only makes it more realistic) so I would recommend not wearing your best party clothes. I'd also recommend wearing something tough as, if you get really into it, you'll find yourself on your knees on a concrete floor. One or two of us had scuffed knees afterwards.
Mostly though, I'd say make sure you stretch before you play. I was dying for about three days after my first game due to the exertion I put my legs through with crouching and hiding. That's not to say I wouldn't do it again though. It was great fun! Exploring the arena and finding hidey holes and places to snipe people from was my favourite aspect of it, whereas others really loved throwing themselves behind the props and sneaking up on people. Even Allan had his Stargate poses on when he was creeping around the empty rooms and he was determined he'd hate it!
For our half hour session it worked out at £6.50 each which was well worth it. Half an hour doesn't sound like much, but I think I'd have died if we did much more. You can get an hour for £9.00 and 90 minutes for £13.00 if you prefer a bit of a longer game. As Linzi had booked and paid for more people and half of them didn't turn up, they gave everyone a ticket with a free game on it so we can all go back at some point. The ticket was actually one of those loyalty stamp cards so if you like to lazer tag often, you'll even get a free game every now and then! Fab!
Everyone had a brilliant time and the staff were really great and laid back which made us all feel comfy. It wasn't overly expensive and we were all impressed with the arena and the free game. Needless to say, I'd recommend the place for something a bit different and fun. It's very physical if you want it to be and if not, you can sit in the café while others run around like idiots. Five stars out of five from me!