The Unreal Engine was developed by Epic Games first demonstrated in the game Unreal in 1998. Unreal Engine 3 is the third generation of the game engine. It supports for DirectX 11 computers, PS3, Xbox 360, WiiU, PSVita, Android, iOS and Mac OS X. Its renderer supports high dynamic range rendering, per-pixel lighting and dynamic shadows. Gears of War was the first console game released that used this engine. This game received an average score of 94/100 at Metacritic and IGN called it "the most gorgeous looking game on the Xbox 360”. It also supports games like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Mass Effect 3, Borderlands and Bulletstorm.
One of the key things with this engine is that Epic released a free version of it to the general public in 2009 and this was called Unreal Development Kit. So now anyone can use it to create games and levels. It can now even create iOS games. It has even been used for non-gaming means, such as creating simulations for construction and design to film storyboards. It therefore has a very wide market and has many games from different companies using it.
Source Engine was developed by Valve Corporation, it released with Counter-Strike: Source and later Half-Life 2. It supports Windows, Mac OS X, PS3 and Xbox 360. It has a range of technology advantages, from Direct3D and OpenGL rendering to high dynamic range rendering. A full list of its features are here:
It is also extremely popular in the modding community. Garry’s Mod, although considered a stand alone game that uses the Source engine, it required users to have at least one other source game and then allows players to manipulate objects within the physics of the game and create odd contraptions and chain reactions. It is often used for creating Machinima movies using assets from other Source games and creating scenes and stories. A famous one of these is War of the Servers.
Other games that use this engine include the Left 4 Dead games Zeno Clash and the Portal games.
Also, Valve Software released Source SDK which can be used to create mods and maps for the Source Engine. It was however criticised for being outdated and difficult to use.
Unity is a new, up and coming engine. It can be used to create 3D games and visualisations. Its development environment runs on Windows and Mac OS X, and the games it creates can be run on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, iPad and iPhone. It can also run browser games with its plugin Unity Web Player. It supports games such as Dead Frontier, Battlestar Gallactica Online and Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online. Unity is great for indie developers, and it offers different licenses for different consoles. There’s a free version of Unity and also a Pro version with added features.
CryEngine3 is the third engine from the company Crytek. It runs on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U. Crytek also released a free to use version of the engine called CryEngine3 SDK, used as a level editor and for modding purposes. Games that support this engine include all the Crysis games and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2. One of Crytek’s main games, Crysis had somewhat of a reputation of requiring serious amounts of power to run on PC. But with the visually stunning graphics, it still hit home as an amazing game, and engine.