Epic’s iPhone demo hits App Store, looks gorgeous

That Unreal Engine tech demo for the iPhone wasn’t just a showpiece for His Steveness’ latest keynote. It’s available now on the App Store as a free, 82MB download… and it looks absolutely gorgeous. Check out these screenshots freshly gathered from my iPhone 4:

You’ll find the full-sized, 960×640 shots in the image gallery below.

The demo runs surprisingly smoothly overall, although that wide, open area in the second shot brings the frame rate down to what feels like the 10-20 FPS range. Still, those sharp real-time graphics are a sight to behold on a 3.5″ display.

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    • TaBoVilla
    • 9 years ago

    Couple of years ago I remember entering one of those useless internet discussions, subject was handheld graphics. I sustained we were going to have Crysis level graphics on handhelds in 8 years time. This was I think 2008.

    Everyone laughed at me.

      • jcw122
      • 9 years ago

      Eternal win.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 9 years ago

      Even modern PC games look worse than Crysis, so even if the tech is there, I’m not sure we’ll get Crysis level graphics.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      How are we going to have 2560×1680 resolution on mobile devices and still read teh pixelsg{

      • conjurer
      • 9 years ago

      I had simmilar discussion about mobile phone games, to have Half-life level graphics in in 6 years about when half-life was released. Everyone thought that phones will be black/white forever. Then nokia n-gage appeared.
      Now i can predict that future smart phones will need active coolers in 5 years. And battery life will drop because of demand of heavy features, and 3d games.

      • FireGryphon
      • 9 years ago

      And still the haters hate.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    I’m wondering if the iPod/iPhones will ever have plug-in controllers.

    I get how some games using the gyroscopic sensor cleverly and the touch interface gives developers freedom of interface, but running around in this environment today made me pang for real, physical, tactile control.

    If Apple’s iPad was actually a snap-on bumper with integrated D-pad and buttons, I’d be all over iWhatever gaming.

    As it is, the interface ruins it for me. Maybe I have dry skin or something but when you start to get serious (high-scores, competitive play etc) the interface always frustrates me the most. Jagex’s Bouncedown was almost perfect as a quick time-waster for me, but the replay value was eventually ruined by me hitting the interface wall. Why bother retrying when you know you can do better but every attempt results in frustration. You can’t *learn* from those mistakes if you’re not the one making them.

      • Farting Bob
      • 9 years ago

      Unfortunately for gamers, buttons and tactile feedback are going out of fashion. See: Wii, Kinect, Move, iphone. Touchscreens or motion sensitive controllers make great gimmicks that people like for long enough to pay hundreds for, then realise that for most games, buttons and d-pad or mouse are far superior.

        • SPOOFE
        • 9 years ago

        /[

          • Chrispy_
          • 9 years ago

          Aye.

          Buttons do appear to be going out of fashion, but only because people aren’t complaining enough about their demise.

          I still have an original nintendo gameboy. It’s amazing how much fun you can have with just a two button joypad.

    • MarioJP
    • 9 years ago

    This just opened up opportunities for the next generation smartphones. If Sony and Nintendo do not take the mobile gaming market seriously apple and others will.

    Looks impressive so far. Lower resolutions makes it possible but from what I read the open areas can put quite a struggle running this demo. Not bad nevertheless.

    • Entroper
    • 9 years ago

    That top screenshot reminds me a lot of 3DMark2000.

    §[<http://www.futuremark.com/images/download/screenshot_3dmark2000_1_big.jpg?m=v<]§

      • FireGryphon
      • 9 years ago

      Before I read the text, I thought this was a port of 3DM2000 to the iPhone.

    • trackerben
    • 9 years ago

    On the iPad it’s really nice. If the games are anywhere near decent they will showcase the hardcore games section.

    • SNM
    • 9 years ago

    So it looks to me like it’s all baked lightmaps? Dynamic lighting is the difficult part of PC games today, so that would explain how this runs all right on the iPhone.

    • grantmeaname
    • 9 years ago

    Looks like Columbia from Bioshock Unlimited…

    • ultima_trev
    • 9 years ago

    Looks almost too pretty for a handheld device.

    This is really a testament on how underutilized PC hardware is and how unoptimized PC games are. A high end PC should probably be about twenty fold the power of an iShit, yet even games like Crysis or Metro don’t have 20 fold the texture resolution or polygons of this demo, nor are their fps count much better than 10-20 in most situations. 🙁

      • moritzgedig
      • 9 years ago

      The screen has half the resolution (of regular PC) and maybe no AA.
      the crysis benchmarks they run here are at 1920×1200, 8x AA and 16xAF
      there is just one hardware and OS.
      you don’t know what corners they cut to make this.

    • Mat3
    • 9 years ago

    Is it a Powervr chip rendering that?

    • HurgyMcGurgyGurg
    • 9 years ago

    This seems to beat anything shown on the 3DS so far.

    Very impressive.

    • ManAtVista
    • 9 years ago

    I’m not familiar with idevice gaming, but exactly how can you make a game out of this? I mean, humans only have two thumbs, and if you need them both to move and the rest of your fingers to hold the device..well, how do you attack/use items/etc?

      • Skrying
      • 9 years ago

      Huh? You have used a gamepad, correct? You need only one thumb to move. You can use that other thumb for numerous things.

        • ManAtVista
        • 9 years ago

        Uhm, one thumb to move, one thumb to look around… and then what to attack/use/etc? and a control pad has buttons where your fingers are, an iphone don’t… maybe a racing game, but this looks like oblivion or something and I don’t see that happening on an iphone as is.

    • geekl33tgamer
    • 9 years ago

    It’s mightly impressive to watch and runs perfectly on my 3rd gen Touch – I was starting to wonder if it was pre-rendered it’s that good!

      • geekl33tgamer
      • 9 years ago

      15 minutes running around = low battery warning! Yikes…

    • dustyjamessutton
    • 9 years ago

    That looks as though it would require a very high-end pc and gpu to render at 1080p. Dang, that is very pretty.

    • Da_Boss
    • 9 years ago

    So I’ve been running around this little town for about 30 minutes, looking for where the sacrifices were made in order to get this running on a phone.

    Other than lack of NPCs, I can’t find anything. Truly amazing.

      • mesyn191
      • 9 years ago

      They can get away with that due to the low resolution. Given the size of the screens it’ll be playing on that is perfectly fine though.

        • ltcommander.data
        • 9 years ago

        What do you mean low resolution? You mean the texture resolution? Because it’s a Universal app that runs on an iPad at 1024×768 which is not a low screen resolution for a handheld device and neither is a 9.7″ screen small such that low details wouldn’t be noticeable.

          • mesyn191
          • 9 years ago

          That is a low resolution, has been for years.

          Like I and you said though, its a small screen so they can get away with that.

      • ltcommander.data
      • 9 years ago

      My question with these games is how limiting is CPU power?

      If I’m not mistaken, when Doom Resurrection came out, John Carmack mentioned the limiter at that time was CPU power. And this was for an on-rails game which you’d think would be less CPU intensive since things can be scripted. Since then we’ve gone from a PowerVR MBX Lite to a PowerVR SGX535 which must be something like an order of magnitude increase in graphics power, whereas CPU power has only doubled going from the 412MHz ARM11 to the 600MHz Cortex A8 and doubled again going to the 1GHz Apple A4.

      It seems likely then that things are even more CPU limited now than GPU limited, which makes for very good graphics demoes, but I’d really like to see how complex and full featured in game worlds will look once all the CPU intensive characters and AI is added in. John Carmack’s iPhone RAGE demo was likewise very graphically impressive, but the NPCs were not very developed, only waving their arms.

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah, that’s what Medfield will address. Arm goes bye bye.

    • zdw
    • 9 years ago

    Just tried it on an iPhone 4 and iPad.

    The bump mapping and lighting/reflections are extremely impressive. I’d compare it to the original Xbox in terms of graphical fidelity.

    It’s not totally smooth in the open areas where there’s a long draw distance, but compared to the PSP or other similar gaming-specific hardware, it’s much much better.

    Apple’s win here is that they have a relatively standard platform in terms of GPU – the same GPU has been used since the 3GS came out, and it’s well known and optimized for. Compare to the mishmash of drivers, or in some cases, total lack of GPU’s for Android hardware – I guess that’s what you get for opening up your platform, kind of like how you can still buy a really horrible integrated GPU on a Windows box.

    • StuG
    • 9 years ago

    This is pretty awesome.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Runs on my iPod Touch as well, and with only 1/4 the pixesl (480×320) it’s as detailed, but it’s still gorgeous and very fluid. Wow.

    • wingless
    • 9 years ago

    I hope this gets ported over to Android. My Galaxy S (which shares the iPhone 4’s SoC but 200Mhz faster) will have a helluva lot of fun with this!

      • cygnus1
      • 9 years ago

      Unless i’m crazy, i’m pretty sure no other phone shares the iphone SoC, as apple designed the core in it. I know it’s quite similar to other ARM designs out there, but definitely not shared.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        it IS shared. it was made by samsung, and the chip is almost identical. google is your friend.

        • ltcommander.data
        • 9 years ago

        It is true that no one else has the Apple A4 SoC, but the actual ARM Cortex A8 CPU is the same as the Samsung Hummingbird. The rest of Apple’s A4 and Samsung SoC differ for example different GPU choices. But for ease of porting to Android, Samsung Galaxy S devices would be the closest in terms of hardware since you don’t have to deal with a different ARM implementation or an AMD GPU like in Snapdragon.

          • Mithent
          • 9 years ago

          In fact, the Galaxy S has a better GPU than the iPhone 4 – a PowerVR SGX 540 versus an SGX 535.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        Apple’s actual “design” is most likely in I/O. Most Cortex A8 SoCs have a ton of I/O that the iDevices don’t need.

      • ltcommander.data
      • 9 years ago

      Any idea what the graphics driver situation is like on Android? I’ve always been curious about this. Apple’s Mac GPU drivers may need work, but by all accounts Apple’s iOS PowerVR drivers are very good with Apple even developing their own OpenGL ES extensions to unlock more abilities. Good drivers could be one technical reason why iOS sees a lot more of these cutting edge demos beyond the obvious installed base difference of what is now likely more than 50 million Cortex A8 + PowerVR SGX535 iDevices. Otherwise you’d think developers could really stretch their wings on a more open platform like Android where they can tweak everything and go as low level as necessary to squeeze the most performance for a game.

        • Da_Boss
        • 9 years ago

        As far as I know, Android’s dev support for OpenGL ES 2.0 is only about six months old. In contrast, iOS has had OpenGL ES 2.0 support since it’s had OpenGL ES 2.0 devices (3GS).

        Furthermore, all but one Android phone (Snapdrogons included) has the GPU power for this kind of stuff whereas there are tens of millions of iOS devices out there to tap into (only counting the 4, 3GS and 3rd gen touch).

        You’d think that Android’s dev tools were as open as other parts of it’s platform, but I’m not so sure. It seems that it was Google who had to do some work to get to iOS’ level of support for OpenGL ES 2.0.

        This article should explain it:

        §[<http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Android-NDK-with-OpenGL-ES-2-0-support-949821.html<]§

      • Da_Boss
      • 9 years ago

      Not like this hasn’t been discussed before, but in order for this to be ported to Android, there would have to be enough capable phones to make it worth the investment.

      I’m positive it’ll happen in the coming years, but don’t hold your breath.

        • wingless
        • 9 years ago

        Galaxy S-based phones are out selling every other Android phone worldwide, let alone the North American market. This is a pretty prolific phone platform Samsung has got out of the door.

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          I’ve said it before: Samsung is scary.
          If anyone can topple Intel, it’s Samsung.

            • TaBoVilla
            • 9 years ago

            samsung builds ships, I think it already toppled Intel

            • dpaus
            • 9 years ago

            Samsung builds autonomous, robotic weapons systems – they can topple Intel anytime they damn well choose to.

            §[<http://www.newlaunches.com/archives/samsung_develops_machine_gun_sentry_robot_costs_200k.php<]§

            • RMSe17
            • 9 years ago

            Samsung constructs the tallest buildings in the world (Petronas Towers, Taipei 101, Burj Khalifa), ships, cars, and a great deal of electronics…

            Samsung’s net in sales in 2008 were 173 billion.. Net income of 10 billion. Intel’s total worth is 52 billion. Yea, I think Samsung could just buy them if they wanted to.

      • jdaven
      • 9 years ago

      Would Android’s fragmentation (phones with 1.5, 1.6, 2.1, 2.2 that can’t be upgraded to newer version) prevent porting this?

      • dpaus
      • 9 years ago

      Unreal Engine is already running on the Palm Pre

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    looks pretty.

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