By accident or design, Microsoft's triumphant X06 event last week managed to neatly bookend the two historical extremes of the modern run and gun shooter. First the audience had the rather unexpected news of Doom's welcome arrival into the Live Arcade fold, and was then treated to a typically bombastic hands-on demo from Cliffy B for Gears of War. The contrast couldn't be more incredible.
But despite underling the overwhelming strides made in 3D technology, AI and cinematic presentation over the past 13 years, both games have more in common than you might imagine. Just as Doom's unprecedented visuals and relentless hardcore shooting action convinced masses of gamers to buy PCs back in 1993, Microsoft is hoping that Epic's stunning visual tour-de-force will have a similar effect on sales of the 360 later this year.
But while its technical brilliance has never been in any doubt, a few concerns lingered over whether the gameplay could match the intense hype being thrown about over the 360's latest poster child. Would this be an atmospheric sci-fi masterpiece to recapture Epic's vintage Unreal days circa 1998/99, or GRAW with grouchy, steroid-pumped space marines?