Last weekend was Andy’s stag do in Budapest, ably organised by his brother and best man, Tristan. Naturally tour rules prevent me from divulging too much, but it’s worth mentioning one of the non-obvious highlights: paintball. Now I’ll be honest, up front I felt that flying out to Eastern Europe was a little excessive for a couple of days of male bonding, heavy drinking and light debauchery. The truth is that it made a huge difference, largely through lax regulation. So paintballing, hardly an exotic experience, proved an entirely different beast to its UK counterpart.

We arrived, hungover, at an old barn in what appeared to be a disused farm in the middle of nowhere. As we poured out of the minibus on which we had spent an hour attempting to sleep through headaches of varying degrees, we were greeted by a sizeable dog who eyed us with the disdain of a creature who had seen it all before. He padded quietly around us as we entered through the barn’s looming doors, as if lazily rounding up sheep. In short, this was exactly the sort of place you’d pick if you planned to dismember unsuspecting tourists. Inside the Hungarians who were to be running the games were surrounded by paintballing equipment and camouflage, yet appeared to be watching sing-along Thomas the Tank Engine on an old television. The disconnect was the most disconcerting thing of all.

The difference was evident the moment we pulled the trigger on the guns which, like all the equipment, appeared identical to anything one would use at a local venue. Less stringent health and safety regulations, however, meant high pressure gas canisters. The result was twofold: yes, it was more painful (and highly effective at sobering our group) but it also allowed one to aim properly, rather than having paintballs drift half-heartedly in the slightest breeze. It instantly tightened up everyone’s game. The resulting bruises and injuries (which admittedly I tend not to suffer) were more than worthwhile. The second difference was clear once in the fields. Like a scene straight out of Half-Life 2’s City 17 outskirts (which was itself designed as a nameless Eastern European city) we were fighting through abandoned buildings with crumbling walls and rotting wood, hiding inside burned-out vehicles and trampling through broken tiles and glass as we hunted down our enemy. Exactly the sort of the thing you’d never get away with over here. If you get a chance to experience it, do.

I suspect the only UK experience that will now compare is WarFighters. Who’s in?