Times Square was no longer safe. One faction of the army advanced from Wall Street and another was swooping in from the Brooklyn Bridge, guns drawn.
With nowhere else to turn, Paul Shapiro grabbed his pistol with both hands and squeezed off rounds in the direction of the skyline.
With a flash of color, his target lit up as he retreated behind the Washington Square Arch and planned his next move.
This Gotham wasteland isn’t some post-apocalyptic version of New York — it’s Urban Mission, a new laser tag arena at the Bowlmor at Chelsea Piers. “Once you get in there, you feel like a little kid,” says Shapiro, 31, of Chelsea.
For now, it’s the only laser tag place in Manhattan — Times Square’s Lazer Park, a combination arcade/laser tag spot, closed almost a decade ago — and only the second in the city. The other is at Indoor Extreme Sports in Long Island City.
The new 3,000-square-foot, NYC-themed indoor minimaze opened in December with re-created city icons. Competitors are briefed in a room painted like Central Park and then move around the arena under city street signs, a Statue of Liberty mural, the Washington Square Arch and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Players set lasers on fun in the NYC-inspired setting of Chelsea Piers’ laser tag arena.Photo: Christian Johnston
Twelve-year-old Olivia Bennett wore a gray “I Love New York” hoodie as combat gear when she visited the arena with her aunt and best friend, and used her size to her advantage.
“People kept trying to get me, but I got them. I was hiding,” says Olivia, who lives in Burlington City, NJ. “I just went up to them and shot them.”
Of course, it’s not just for kids: People spill over from the nearby bar, too.
“We had a couple before going in,” admits Evan Boritz, 31. “I think it helped. You had to be a little loose in there.”
This version of laser tag is a little less militaristic than others. After stepping into the briefing room, players strap on a vest outfitted with a handful of sensors in the front and back. The laser gun is attached to the vest with a cord.
It’s impossible to “die” in this version of the game: When you get shot, your gun goes inactive for five to 10 seconds. The goal is to attack a “base” — in this case, a dinner-plate-size target hidden above a chamber about the size of an old city phone booth. That target is the way to win (or at least score a big point bonus), but it’s small, and hard to get to.
Usually, there’s smoke in the arena and loud, electronic music to ratchet up the tension. Afterward, a scoreboard tells you who had the most hits, and you get a printout of your stats to help you measure your progress.
“If you play ‘Call of Duty,’ you know how to do this,” says Bronx resident Phil Schoultz, 25.
Some people discovered that they’d be basically useless in the Big Apple if laser warfare ever broke out.
“I would not do well in the Army,” says Williamsburg resident Michael Smilowitz, 28. “I was dead within like five seconds. In the laser tag apocalypse, I was one of the guys who died on laser Normandy. Just one of those hapless fellows on the first boat in.”
Bowlmor, Pier 60 at 20th Street in Chelsea Piers, 212-835-2695.
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