1 It’s a truly original concept for the region Putting sushi on the same menu as steak isn’t an original concept. But for Hub Zero, the claim at being a first of its kind in the region is spot on – we haven’t seen anything else like it. Genuinely state-of-the-art, using the latest technologies, it’s an 18,000-square-metre entertainment park for all ages and levels of gamer as far down as, well, non-gamers.
2 Serious support network A concept designed locally in partnership with five of the planet’s biggest names in gaming – Electronic Arts, Capcom, Konami, Microsoft and Square Enix – it’s an homage to everything from Space Invaders to virtual reality (VR), covering every base from basic Pac-Man and pinball machines right up to competitive multi-player tournaments. Among the games to feature are Battlefield, Gears of War and Asura’s Wrath.
3 Sensory overload Quite where you’re supposed to look when entering the ground level is anybody’s guess; every corner sparkles with intrigue. From the enormous overhanging smoke-breathing dragon on one side to the Resident Evil signage, illuminated in thick deep red and flanked by menacing-looking zombie characters on the other, there isn’t one inch of space that doesn’t demand your attention. And it isn’t just branding. There’s authentic street art by local graffiti artists filling the wall, behind which experiences and activities lie.
4 Watching is playing The majority of first person-themed games downstairs have viewing areas. Take, for example, the Virtual Arena. When empty, one of the only unremarkable spaces in the building – simply four sections of an open-plan room – it takes on a stadium-like atmosphere when gamers don futuristic headsets and headphones and start wildly shooting at whatever it is their goggles show. It’s wonderfully good fun to watch, if only for how silly it looks to a viewer who peers in from outside.
5 Getting involved Sticking with virtual reality, experiencing really is believing. And we can’t even take pictures to illustrate how awesome it is. And how disconcerting. Wearing goggles and headphones to totally block out the outside world, you’re transported to a run-down, spooky street armed only with a palm-sized pistol (of course, in the VR, the gun is considerably bigger) and told to expect things that go bump in the night. Right on cue, zombies attack from all angles.
6 The extras There’s also state-of-the-art racing simulators with complex hydraulic systems to make even F1 fans envious, an inner-city sports court “arena” for Pro Evolution Soccer tournaments, 3D first person shoot-’em-ups in front of giant screens, a lazer maze and 46-seater 4D cinema. And that’s just the stuff you can “do”.
7 The “rides” With Dubai Parks And Resorts and IMG Worlds of Adventure nailing down the roller coaster thing for the foreseeable future, Hub Zero has brought its own piece of the action to the party. The signature “ride” is Dragon Age: Flight of the Wardens, an exhilarating “robocoaster” that seats four and flings you around 360 degrees on a three-axis robotic arm, while a quarter-bowl screen plays the adventure as you move. Others include Final Fantasy Escape From Midgar, in which riders strap into an imperious “omni-directional” coach carriage and are wrapped in a giant multi-dimensional screen.
8 For the serious gamer Upstairs, which is free to access, provides a different sort of gaming experience; far less immersive, but geared towards fans (well, the pool hall, canteen and karaoke booths means it’s not just for the keyboard warriors). The LAN gaming area, with 70 stations and eight private booths, is expected to become a significant location for the whole of the Middle East’s e-sports tournaments. For the uninitiated, LAN stands for Local Area Network and it’s the sort of dedicated, late-into-the-night online experience gently mocked, but utterly misunderstood, in the mainstream media.
9 For the old-school Did the gaming revolution pass you by? Worry not, because there’s a dedicated room for those who remember a simpler time; a time when all you had was a jump button and joystick, when Pac-Man was the only real emoji you needed. That’s right, an entire hall of arcade games and pinball machines, all with original artwork, but with updated gameplay for the 21st century.
10 The price Tickets for the ground level range from Dhs160 (Recruit Pass) to Dhs260 (Hacker Pass) dependent on amount of experiences. Karaoke booths, Network Arena and pool tables are priced per hour.
In Numbers: Hub Zero 70 The percentage of wholly original, nowhere-else-in-the-world experiences available at Hub Zero.
42 The inches of the three screens that fully wrap you up for the Hyper Drive motorsport simulator
24 The amount of players who can compete in the Gears of War: Laser Siege at once.
10-34 The targeted age range, proving there really is something for most levels of gamer.