Game On

To competitive gamers, there are a few major plus points to LAN gaming that simply can’t be address in a home environment. Obviously there are the social aspects I’ve already touched upon, which to the casual gamer is a big selling point. To conform to the gamer stereotype for a moment though, that doesn’t matter. What does matter is proving to your rivals that your godlike Call of Duty 2 ability is all natural and doesn’t stem from a hardware, or software (read hacks) advantage.

This is something that Omega Sektor doesn’t have any problems with, as (almost) every PC in each of the segmented areas is running exactly the same hardware. To be specific (deep breath if you speak English not computer) most PCs offer: Intel Core 2 E6420 processors, 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 at 5-5-5-15 timings, nVidia 8800GTS 320MB graphics, Creative X-Fi sound cards and run Windows XP on 17in Viewsonic 1,280 x 1,024 monitors. By my estimation, you'd probably need to invest around £800 to outfit yourself with similar kit.

However, in special “VIP” areas, where gamers (rightly) demand that little bit more, you’ll be treated to Core 2 Q6600s and 22in 1,680 x 1,050 monitors adding that extra immersion. Peripherals come in the form of a Creative HS900 headset, custom Razer DeathAdder mouse featuring the Omega Sektor logo and a Razer Tarantula keyboard. Overall this is a great combination of components and should provide an immersive experience. It’s also worth noting that there is a small selection of not-standard peripherals available should you find the default unusable.

In terms of infrastructure the whole centre and all of the PCs, run on one giant Gigabit network. Unfortunately we weren't able to get any specific details of exactly how this is worked, so we can't be sure whether everything simply feeds back to one central server, or if the rooms are managed individually before feeding onto a wider loop. Essentially though, this means that although the PCs themselves are divided out into separate rooms, you could, in theory at least, have every system in one big game.

One thing I picked out as a possible problem was the lack of any dedicated servers in the centre, although I was told by a staff member that if requested an unused PC could be requisitioned for that purpose; as well as insisting that should customer demand be great enough then they would invest on providing dedicated equipment. While the omission isn't likely to hamper casual gamers, enthusiasts like myself may consider it a strange oversight given the otherwise well thought out setup.

All the systems are built by UK retailer Scan in a three way deal with Intel and Omega Sektor. Intel was a big sponsor in the development of this site, a move that makes sense given its history in supporting competitive gaming and definitely didn’t take the Omega Sektor opening lightly. Not only were Intel-sponsored clans 4Kings and Team Dignitas to be seen stalking around (looking suitably impressed), but UK Director and Country Manager, Graham Palmer was also in attendance.

We managed to grab a few moments to speak to Graham at the event and he exhibited a level of genuine enthusiasm for the centre which I hadn’t expected. When queried about Intel’s involvement in the development of Omega Sektor he explained that “obviously Intel has a long history in LAN gaming, as our ties with 4Kings, for example, show.” He also confirmed that Intel is working with gaming event organisers to ensure that the competition facilities offered at the centre are fully used. In case you were wondering, Graham’s current game of choice is Need for Speed: Carbon.

Michael “ODEE” O’Dell of Intel-sponsored Team Dignitas, was equally enthused about the prospects of using Omega Sektor as a competition venue. Considering his day-to-day living consists of LAN gaming, it should be encouraging for the centre to have him describe it as “awesome.” Like Graham, Michael is enthused about having a venue in the UK where pro-gamers can hold events without giving the impression that we’re still in the technological dark-ages.

Of course Intel isn’t the Omega Sektor’s only sponsor a fact you definitely can’t miss when you finally make it to the building's second floor.

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