iPhone 3GS tames Unreal Engine 3

Epic demonstrates high-end visual engine powering Gears of War 2 running on Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch 3GS.

What's glass-covered and architectonically gothic and smooth as black ice? Bonus points for guessing the Vatican inside a snow globe, but if you said Apple's iPhone/iPod Touch 3GS running Epic's Unreal Engine 3, you're either psychic or pretty amazing at untangling mangled metaphors. Yep, it seems one of Epic's pet projects involves getting the impressive visual engine that powers games like Gears of War 2 up and running on Apple's latest powerhouse portables.

Tech enthusiast site Anandtech dishes:

The demo is both playable and has a flythrough. It's using a modified Unreal Tournament level previously shown off at GDC. A virtual thumbstick on the left side of the screen controls your movement, while tracking your thumb in the lower right corner of the screen controls the camera. Just tap the screen to shoot. Mark said this is a tech test bed and they're experimenting with several different control schemes including ones with tilt.

Anand says the controls "work well," that the frame rate was "smooth," and describes his experience zipping around killing a single re-spawning opponent as "fun." (Fair enough.) He adds that the tech demo's 3GS only, not surprisingly implying that older 2G and 3G Apple portables lack the necessary oomph.

So is Epic on the verge of leaping into the App Store biz? Maybe not.

Epic isn't announcing any sort of iPhone engine licenses nor are they entering the iPhone game market. Porting UE3 to the iPhone is simply one of many projects being worked on inside a newer, more svelte and innovative Epic Games (wait till you see what's next...).

What's next"? Coming to CES 2010, says Anand: "Expect to see Unreal Engine 3 on another mobile platform entirely."

Guesses?

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Matt Peckham

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