It’s always exciting when a new laser tag arena
opens, especially when it’s right in your own backyard! This weekend I didn’t
have to go very far to find a new laser tag site to play because I had a chance
to visit Apex Entertainment in Albany, NY during their first week open for
business in the Crossgates Mall.
Apex is a large family entertainment center
with plenty of other attractions including bowling, food, arcade and a lot more,
however my attention was “laser focused” (forgive the pun) on trying out the new
Gen 8 Laserforce equipment in an arena that impressed me for multiple reasons.
When I first arrived, I took a seat at a table
near the arena entrance and waited for my opportunity to play. While I was sitting
there, I ran into two laser tag acquaintances, Don and Josh, who are now part
of the Apex staff. Don was kind enough to give me a tour of the arena before the
game started and show me some of the ways that Apex made a deliberate effort to
give nods to the local community with some distinctive décor. For example,
there is a replica of Nipper, the RCA dog (and Albany’s “unofficial” mascot)
who locals know looks out over the North End warehouse district, but now also
looks out over the Apex Albany arena.
There are a couple of street signs with local
My favorite locally-inspired element was
seeing a representation of The Egg, a performing arts venue known for its
unique architecture, that is prominently featured on the wall by one of the
parallel raised bridges.
This will be an easy point to reference in the
arena as there is a neutral green base target located directly above The Egg.
The other bases are located on opposite walls
under structures I’m told represent “City hall”.
Now, I’ll admit I’ve never actually been to
Albany’s city hall, but these don’t exactly look like the pictures. However,
what’s more important to me is that they also don’t look like the typical base
housing I’m accustomed to seeing and that’s a good thing. In fact, all the
efforts towards personalizing the arena are what I consider to be a good move!
I’ve occasionally been critical of the “cookie cutter” aesthetic of some arenas
with CW theming, but this is how you customize an arena space to make it
reflect the community and make it memorable.
Something else that makes a big difference is
the lighting. I was pretty sure I recognized the DMX light show when I saw the
lighting effects inside this arena (and I was right…nice job Beanz).
The arena is about 4700 square feet and they
packed a lot into that space. Some of the lower level felt a little tightly
spaced, but there are two very open and playable parallel bridges with ramps on
either end, which I suspect will be the busiest spots in this arena. The open
windows allow for decent cover, but also a clear view for targeting an
So, time to get in there and play some
Laserforce! We headed for the vesting room.
A group gathered to watch the briefing video
and then we suited up with the Gen 8 gear, playing fire vs ice.
This is so new to everyone in this area that I
didn’t want to play hard on the first game, so instead I just played for
accuracy. Everyone did well and I enjoyed learning where the best sight lines
were inside the arena. The game was fun and everyone enjoyed! Once the
community becomes familiar with Apex and they develop a following in Albany
(they are already established in Syracuse, NY and Marlborough, MA with a
Virginia Beach site in the works as well) I think it will be interesting to see
if they start to offer more advanced game options for return clientele. I’d
love to see this site set up some league play. However, if you’re in the mall
and looking for a fun place to take a break I’d definitely encourage you to check
out the laser tag at Apex.