Epic exhibited a version of its Unreal Engine 3 for use on the third generation iPod Touch and iPhone 3GS.
Unreal isn't just for the big dogs anymore. Anandtech met with Epic's Mark Rein and played a modified Unreal level on a much smaller platform. The engine uses a virtual thumbstick in the lower left corner of the iPod when it it is held horizontally. Looking and aiming is controlled by dragging a cuticle on the screen and you can fire the weapon you are holding by tapping the gun in the lower right corner of the screen. This short video shows surprisingly smooth and graceful gameplay.
The demo uses OpenGL ES 2.0 so the engine does not work on older generation iPods and only functions on the iPhone 3Gs. Epic is not making the engine platform specific, however, Mark Rein said that they plan on showing a demonstration on a different mobile as early as Consumer Electronics Show in January.
The demo is just that, the recently announced Unreal Development Kit does not include any support for the portable engine yet. It is just one of many projects that Epic is working on to bring its engine to the portable market.
While I don't think I'm going to go out and buy an iPhone just to play Unreal, it is great to see a hefty game engine being developed for the open portable computer market. If more "hardcore" games are released there with this engine, it's possible that consumers will begin to veer away from closed systems like the DS or the PSP and start playing more games on their phones. With new 32nm chip technology coming down from Intel, it's also possible that we'll see a smartphone becoming as powerful as an Xbox 360 in 3 to 5 years.
I just want to know when I'll get my tricorder.