Unreal Engine 3: Epic's Fail

The Power Review: The Unreal Engine 3 has fueled consoles for much of this generation and propelled some of its best games. But are developers relying too heavily on this middleware engine, and is that leading to the engine itself holding back the true potential of this generation's consoles?

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Why o why3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

its obvious. Everything has a life cycle and UE3 or any other engine are not immune to the decline stage

UNCyrus3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

that's the point... however some console(s) seem to be clinging to it for dear life

*edit* better lokiroo? hahah

lokiroo4203008d ago

You mean a console is clinging.

OGharryjoysticks3008d ago

Using earlier games to compare the 360 and PS3 running UE3 is tricky because even though it's a middleware, devs didn't really know how to program for the PS3. Looking at the Wolverine screens (although they are small shots) to me it looks a little better on PS3 because I notice more details for some reason. And I also played that Batman Arkham Asylum demo at a kiosk at Toys R Us on PS3 and it looked and ran like a good game. Honestly the PS3 is tricky, but I really wouldn't doubt UE3 showcasing itself on the PS3 in future games.

ShabzS3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

unreal is a geat engine that has given it fare share of great games ... gears, mass effect, graw, splinter cell, rainbow six, mirrors edge, XIII...

but yes its time has come... enough with the measly updates it recieves, its time to start fresh from the ground up... either epic realises this themselves or they can wait till id tech 5 and cry engine 3 make them change a few things

Nathan1233008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

Lets face it... Developers are going to hold on to UE3 until some other engine like CryEngine 3.0 takes over. Building a new engine for a game not only takes more time, but takes more money as well. Though the results are stunning (PS3 exclusives anyone?), but still we all know that how much time and money goes into building such games (at least 3-4 years).

I was really pleased with CE3. Hopefully it will take over. UE3 is definitely holding back the PS3.... The games always have issues with textures and pop-ins. I don't know if it's holding the 360 or not... Since the best looking 360 exclusive is Gears 2... UE3. Frankly I have yet to see a 360 exclusive made on a custom engine that rivals UE3's Gears for the 360. Halo sucked in graphics (640P!!! not even HD). I know a lot of games on the PS3 that kick the crap out off UE3 (Uncharted 1/2, KZ2, MGS4, GOW3... notice all made on custom engines). So in short UE3 is crap for PS3.

I hate to say this, but until UE3 engine is used, multi-plat will tend to be inferior on PS3. CE3 seems to be better for both consoles. UE3 should be buried by now. Even the UE3 itself is not surpassing its 2 year old games. Gears 1 (a 2 year old game!!!) & 2 are good, but rest of the games look crap. Let UE3 die in peace.

bullswar3008d ago

UNREAL ENGINE 3 is like a same average actor being casted again and again for whatever new film is coming up.

Yeah it was gr8 in the beginning but as time pass ... you start to get bored of seeing the same actor acting with hiccups (popping texture), his facial expression, his voice, attitude and personality and this is exactly being happenned with UE3.

I need change or UE3 should bring up something extraordinary that'll again make us like this engine. For now Ive already paid my Obituaries to UE3 engine.

Alvadr3008d ago

Im sure they are working on a UE4 engine :)

IdleLeeSiuLung3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

I agree that every engine will reach it's decline stage, but Gears of War 2 proves that Unreal 3 when pushed is still one of the best engines graphically for the 360.

What game available now looks better than GeoW2 on the 360? Even before GeoW2, there weren't any games that really gave it GeoW1 a run for its money in the graphic department until GeoW2. One could tend argue that developers are lazy for the 360 as well....

gambare3008d ago

"What game available now looks better than GeoW2? Even before GeoW2, there weren't any games that really gave it GeoW1 a run for its money in the graphic department until GeoW2."


Shadow Flare3008d ago

True. Unreal Engine 3 is like Jeff Goldblum. He's the same in all his films. What's that jeff? You're playing an eccentric scientist again in your upcoming film? Never of guessed that. And like Jeff Goldblum, all unreal engine games tend to have the same sort of look about them

3008d ago
IdleLeeSiuLung3008d ago

I intended my comment for the 360 only. I edited to clarify that. If they are going to get rid of the engine responsible for one of the best looking games for the 360, they better darn well make sure we get something better. That was my point.

Uncharted looking better than GeoW or vice versa is debatable.

3008d ago
M_Prime3008d ago

i also think it has to do with what they are trying to do with the engine..

i mean the CE3 makes beautiful jungles.. but if you want a city scape it seems better done in UE3..(gears vs Crysis) and then there are custom engines but those will be used for sequals i bet..

i would also say personally the RAGE (GTA IV) engine really impressed me for the amount of stuff it handles.. i mean the whole city feels alive.. and done so well and looks pretty as well) but if this engine was used for gears wit would look like poop.. so each engine has its ups and downs.. and i think UE3 will be around for a while.. it the dark and dingy that it does well and until another engine does this well we won't be seeing anything too new... also amazing how versitile UE3 is... in my mind anyways..

Shadow Flare3008d ago

lol i was about to post that link. Seriously anyone who thinks gears beats uncharted (let alone killzone) is out of their mind. I mean seriously, how many times does that kineticninja link need to be shown till 360 fanboys get the idea

kickaski3008d ago

that comparison is completely unfair!... it's based on reality, and we all know reality has a Sony bias.


3008d ago
ShabzS3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

i have to disargree with you there buddy ... while by no means i'm saying that gears 2 dosesnt look kick ass... however it is not the best the 360 has to offer graphically ... see this is where multiplats dont get thier credit where its due... far cry 2 resident evil 5 dead space hell even the upcoming lost planet 2 all look better than gears

having said that ... i still have yet to play a game that gives me an adrenaline rush as much as gears does... it just jacks up your heart beat .. i love it

Tony P3008d ago

Why don't we let the devs decide when to ditch UE3? Most don't even know how a game is made. Engine's just silly.

rockleex3008d ago

Because of its fake trailer back then, although Killzone 2 almost reached that same level of graphics and still ended up being one of the best looking titles out right now.

But no one likes to remember that Gears of War 2 had fake bullshots at much higher resolutions with better quality textures and lighting effects.

phosphor1123008d ago

About Beyond 3D, it is actually a credible site, but the thing is, they only know PC technology, they don't know how any of this new technology holds. I doubt anyone on that site actually knows how the i7 works, not to mention the Cell. So when it comes to PC tech, they know their stuff, but they really can't compare 360 (PC hardware) vs PS3 (CBE/ non-parallel system).

IdleLeeSiuLung3008d ago

... and the people here are much better judges of course? /sarcasm

Note, I don't agree or disagree with your statement.

FamilyGuy3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

Is on point, Gears 2 isn't the best looking 360 game because multiplat Resident Evil 5 far surpasses it and the upcoming Lost Planet 2 looks like it will do the same. I can't comment on the others he's mentioned though, simply because I have not seen them.

One problem though, what engine powered Resident Evil 5?

ShabzS3008d ago

capcoms inhouse mtframework 2.0 ... same engine powering lost planet 2 ..

Tony P3008d ago

"Why don't we let the devs decide when to ditch UE3? Most don't even know how a game is made. Engine's just silly. "

Clarification: Most *of us commenting* don't even know how a game is made. Devs obviously do.

outlawlife3008d ago


your whole normal mapping speech just proves you don't know what you are talking about

every single game out there uses normal maps extensively, UE3 or not
normal mapping doesn't fake anything, it is a more efficient way of modelling and rending as opposed to using 100% geometry

if it weren't for normal maps game models would still look as if they were on ps2

Raf1k13008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

You completely changed what IdleLeeSiuLung said to make it look as though he was talking about all console games when in fact he was referring only to 360 games.

Not cool. I hope yout not representing us PS3 gamers

Edit: just realised IdleLee edited his to clarify he was on about the 360. Im assuming it wasnt obvious to begin with. My bad.

3008d ago
M_Prime3008d ago

i have a SD 50" TV, i can't tell the diff on those 2.. once my tv dies and i buy a 40"+ HD TV then i'll see what you people are talking about first hand..

7ero H3LL3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

to many people are jealous of epic's engine, come on it f#cking blows away heavy rain's garbage engine.

0:19 and 6:10 mirror's edge in HD


if you can't see how much better the kinematics are then i say you have less than half of 20/20 vision.

aGameDeveloper3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

Whenever I read an article like this, I see many retorts along the lines of "It's not the Engine, it's the lazy Developers!".

On the one hand, I agree: a motivated Developer could certainly rewrite parts of the Engine and author their content to make their game stand out from all the other UE3 games. The Developer could even make the PS3 version of their game outshine the 360 version (though that could be a LOT of work with an Engine that appears to favor the 360 architecture).

On the other hand, the way Epic markets UE3 and the way many Developers use it are the reasons why articles such as these ring so true. I will cover each point in turn.


It appears that Epic's goal with the UE3 Engine was to get it in the hands of EVERYONE, in order to make it the defacto standard. They give the Engine to universities, mod developers, out-sourcers and indies very cheaply (sometimes for free). They promote the use of the Engine with the "Make Something Unreal" contests. Of course, there's nothing wrong with Epic trying to make some money.

The problem is that these types of users are unlikely to change the engine one bit, and will develop for PC almost exclusively. Thus, the Games Industry is flooded with worker bees for Epic that are experienced and comfortable developing for UE3 as it is delivered, and not often familiar with developing content that will necessarily work well on consoles (trusting the Engine to do that for them).


When UE3 was first available for licensing, Developers that bought it did so with the intention of creating great games. However, use of UE3 has evolved (devolved?) into the "cheap and safe" choice, for the following reasons:

1.) The price of the Engine has dropped over time.

2.) New (and thus cheaper) employees experienced with it have become available, due to Epic's marketing strategy. No need to train them up on an in-house Engine.

3.) Developers have become committed to the UE3 pipeline by using it on multiple titles (often across entire studios). Also, since they already have it on hand, they often use UE3 to prototype and shop a new game to Publishers, and then become stuck with it. "Stuck", because a good amount of work has already been done, and perhaps the Publisher dictates that the Engine not be swapped out, as a condition of picking up the game.

"Cheap and safe" is especially true if the Developer uses UE3 with little modification. He will introduce fewer bugs and the schedule is easier to predict and stick to without heavy Engine work. The number of expensive programmers needed for the game is reduced, and the ones needed for implementing game-play won't have to dig into the guts of the Engine - which is pretty risky, the way all the pieces are tied together.

The use of UE3 also makes Publishers more comfortable with picking up a title early in development Developers - especially less-experienced Developers who need a Publisher early, due to lack of resources). To the Publisher, UE3 is at least a known quantity, which helps determine risk. In some cases, the Publisher may even dictate that the Developer must use the Engine if they want their title to be picked up. This is partly why you will see a lot of movie tie-ins created using UE3 - they have to be done quick, cheap, and on-time.

All of this works out great for Epic. Unfortunately, these practices also result in a lot of "Unreal Tournament" and "Gears of War" clones, in look and feel, for which Gamers are becoming dissatisfied. It also means that any UE3 weaknesses (PS3, for example) are propagated across most of the titles that use that Engine.


So my take is that "It IS (partly) the Engine...AND (some) lazy Developers...AND (some) risk-averse Publishers!".

cherrypie3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

Game engines evolve. There is nothing to "move on" from.

This entire article is useless fanboy blather. Uninformed baseless "opinion". Not even an "opinion" frankly, as it is totally unequipped and uninformed on the topic on which it comments.

UE3 a "failure"? Is that why Epic has so many dev. houses using it? Is the author -- and this totally worthless forum -- *actually* suggesting they know better than dozens of Dev. Houses? The same Studios that are spending hundreds of millions on projects based around UE3?

That sound like "failure"?

Or, how the failure of Gears of War? And Gears 2? Metacritic 9.3?Those "failures"? Piles of awards, exceptional reviews and 11 Million copies sold? That kind of failure?

Is the Killzone-engine a success? Killzone2 sold 55k copies last month. The total sold is less than 1.5M worldwide. That kind of "success"? Meta critic 9.1?

What we see here is the simply sour-grapes. The most obvious type. That UE3 is Xbox 360 / Windows centric, and it is the preferred middle ware for the generation, the Playstation 3 owner feels "left out". Its **NOT** Epic's fault that Sony built a confused development environment and the result is "pretty equal" (IBM's Technical Architect David Shippy's verdict, NOT my opinion, but the lead behind the Eng. Team @ IBM who did BOTH CPUs).

EDIT: HEY PORCELINGOD: "For the massively weaker Xbox 360" -- NO amount of repeating your bullshait is going to make the PS3 more powerful. It is simply NOT THE CASE. READ ABOVE. Only a victim of self-delusion or sony marketing can say such nonsense with a straight face. READ THE DAVE SHIPPY INTERVIEW!

The fact is that the PS crowd is just bitter about UE3 is sad. Simply sad.

UE3 is a MASSIVE success in fact. By any relevant measure. It is a GROWING success by any measure.

That the PS crowd has such sour grapes about UE3 is an insult to the gaming commmunity.

No amount of ignorant belly-aching, and worthless blather like this article will change that; those that **MATTER** are flocking to UE3 -- and their is no need to pretend you (author or [email protected]) know fracking better.

Have some humility, its embarrassing to see you people behave this way.

outlawlife3008d ago (Edited 3008d ago )

that screen you are touting as fake was never said to be in game, it was said to be 'in engine'

those are 2 compeltely different things, you can render anything inside of the engine

and again with the normal mapping speech, go look at the normals in games like killzone, lair, any title, they are just as prevalent as the ue3 games

every single title 360,ps3,pc uses normal maps these days

look at the new assassins creed, or even the old one...altair's clothes were modeled as flat plains and then were normal mapped into a cloth look

killzone 2? huge use of normal maps here is the blog of one of the modelers, his main tools were maya and *MUDBOX*
....why is mudbox significant? because it is a sculpting program to create NORMAL MAPS


epic primarily uses Zbrush which is very similar to mudbox but quickly becoming the standard for high poly sculpting and normal map generation

your normal map argument doesnt hold any water when the flagship visuals for both systems employ the same exact technology

a developer on the use of normal maps in the industry specifically referencing killzone in regards to a guy attacking it for the exact same reasons you are attacking UE3

"Schreiber: The author insists on Killzones’ use of graphical cheats somehow diminish the quality or technical achievement of the game. This leads me believe that the author has never worked on in-game assets. Videogame graphics are based on industry techniques that are in essence cheats. New cheats, or techniques, is what is the basis for progression. Normal maps and bump maps are cheats techniques that most next gen games use, it is standard stuff. Normal maps itself are a technique that cheats the player into seeing depth in an object that isn’t really modeled into the in-game geometry. Also lighting models, skinning system, post process screen effects, all cheats. Techniques developed that can achieve better graphics, more realistic lighting and shadows, better FX, smarter AI are the reason why games have evolved to the point they are today, and you can have 60fps on 1080p. Seriously that’s the essence of videogame graphics. Movies employ cheats as well, they film on blue (or green) screen, they fill in scenes with 3d environments and characters, and they use miniature sets instead of blowing up a real town. Again these cheats are techniques that have been used and created to achieve a standard and also promote an evolution of the media."

normal maps are industry standard, they don't apply to just gears of war or epic games, nor just xbox 360

they apply to every single game you play on this generations consoles, so take your garbage argument somewhere where people think you know something

i've been using these exact tools for several years, unreal engine isn't faking anything, it is doing exactly the same thing everybody else is

the only difference was epic was ahead of the competition this generation and did the hard work for everybody else

when you are the lead dog people get jealous, people imitate, and eventually you are surpassed

to say ue3 is a bad thing is incredibly uneducated, had epic not been working on next gen tech before anyone else it may have been a year or so longer before we started seeing the type of visuals that we are

everything epic has done with UE3 pushed the industry further, if you actually disagree with that then i feel sorry for your naive mind

is it the best engine out there? for some it is, for some it is not

is it showing age? of course, it was the first which is why UE4 has been in development for about a year and we will probably be seeing it at the beginning of the next console cycle

saying that ue3 is weak because of normal maps is foolish and that is just a fact

JasonPC360PS3Wii3008d ago

UE3 fails if its running on a PS3, everything else it seems to run and look just fine.

likedamaster3008d ago

Outlawlife & Cherrypie

Bubbs up. You two seem to know what you're talking about.