Before I started this course I had very little knowledge of game engines. In fact, I'd probably only heard the term used when reading reviews about games on the Internet and in magazines. After using the Unreal Developers Kit, developed by Epic Games, for the past 8ish weeks, I now have a good grasp on what a game engine is and what it's capable of. The possibilities are almost endless and the quality of the games and levels you can create within the engine is amazing. This is the same engine that produced such games as Gears of War and Batman: Arkham Asylum.
As far as games go, there are a few engines that are frequently used and respected. The top few that really stand out for me are UDK (Unreal), Cry Engine (used to make the famous Crysis and Farcry series) and Rage (the engine used to make the latest GTA games and Red Dead Redemption). All of these engines are extremely powerful, and with technology advancing all the time, it wont be long until we start seeing some truly mind blowing graphics and physics within games.
One of the most powerful engines available. It it has been used to produce the graphically outstanding Crysis series. Nearling the release of the latest Crysis game, I decided to buy the first Crysis off steam for a price of £10 (extreme bargain!). I know that it takes a really good PC to run properly, and I was suprised it runs so well on mine. The first thing that stands out is the foliage. I know it was a big part of the game and it really shows. Every bush, blade of grass and tree looks astonishing. The large vistas anre exremely good too. It almost looks real. The first Crysis uses Cry Engine 2, whereas the upcoming release of Cryis 2 uses the new Cry Engine 3. The full list of features can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CryEngine_3
Some of the more stand out features are real time global illumination and High quality 3D water. I think because Crytek owns the engine it wont be available to many other developers.
This is the engine I'm using at the moment to build our group project level. It's simple to use once you know how, and I'm having a lot of fun with it. The potential is massive and It uses advanced materials and lighting techniques to bring the world to life. The games using this engine are normaly very succesful games, like Gears of war. I don't think the engine is quite as powerful and the Cry Engine, but it's more readily availiable and is free for anyone to download. If the user wants to create content for public use then they pay Epic games. I think it's a good system for the games industry as a whole, and makes Epic a nice amount of income on the side.
The Rockstar Advanced Game Engine is what the latest Grand Theft Auto games use. It is a very powerful engine but I think it's the least powerful out of the 3 I've chosen. It uses advanced physics using Euporia (a proprietary component) which gives a very realistic effect of falling objects and human characters.
Game engines will definetaly become more and more powerful in the future. Here are a few videos showing some of the lastest tech demos for the Cry Engine and Unreal: