When it comes to computer games, there's no greater challenge than playing against other people. No matter how intelligently a game has been programmed to react to a player's input, it just doesn't match the cunning of a human adversary. And with most games now offering as much functionality online as they do offline, it's a good time to dip your toe in - if you haven't already.
But unless you're playing on a secure LAN, online gaming has its risks. Any PC with a broadband connection can act as a permanent drop-by for all manner of hacks and attacks. While there's hardly a shortage of sturdy antivirus programs to safeguard against these attacks, they frequently slow down the PC. And in a time-critical game situation, it can be the difference between hero and zero - if your CPU's attention is elsewhere, framerates and response times are the first things to suffer.
So it's handy that SteelSeries has teamed up with BullGuard to provide a gamer-specific antivirus suite. This program is, in many respects, identical to the BullGuard suite that we reviewed in the February 2007 issue. You can still enjoy the services of email filters, antispam and a firewall. Plus, you get 1GB of webspace for storage (which is handy for backups) and a selection of game profiles that optimise resident security for lower resource overheads.
However, boot up one of the 48 supported games - titles include World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2 and Call of Duty 2 - and Steel Security will tweak the security settings, minimising the parts that you don't need to have running. The list of profiles will be updated automatically and, should your game not be supported, you can create a custom profile. We found the program to be fairly robust, while the performance hit was certainly reduced compared to the usual mainstream contenders.