Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) turned 10 years old this month, so we took a look back at some of the best games using the engine. Available for licensees since March 2004, UE3 represented a huge leap for the Unreal Engine. It boasts support for pretty much every platform—mobile, Windows, OS X, and all of the consoles. It's so popular with developers that even the FBI decided to license the engine for a training simulator.
We had a hard time narrowing the list down to only 10 choices. Games like Unreal Tournament 3, Red Orchestra 2, Rising Storm, and plenty of others didn't make the cut. Then again, 10 years is a long time in the gaming world and most of our picks are games that aren't just fun, but changed how we play games forever.
Tell us what you think of the list in the comments! What were your favorite Unreal Engine 3 games?
Batman: Arkham City is the 2011 sequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum. Both games are stellar and changed how we expect superhero games to play—this isn’t your standard licensed product. An awesome combat system combines with everything you know and love about Batman in a game that’s now available for $30. Hang from gargoyles, solve the Riddler’s puzzles, and beat up bad guys in Arkham City. What more could you want?
BioShock Infinite is an interesting game because it made heavy modifications to Unreal Engine 3. Some people think it’s a step back from the original, but we’re enamored with the floating city of Columbia. Infinite is the perfect balance between FPS and RPG. It's arcadey and action-packed, while still telling an engaging story.
Borderlands 2 is the ultimate co-op experience. Witty writing and an actual story make Borderlands 2 a worthy successor to the original. Four players team up against hordes of monsters and bandits while collecting loot in a game that’s one-part RPG and one-part FPS. Find three other people before you play, it’s not nearly as fun playing solo.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare isn’t the most polished game. It is however buckets of bloody fun. We’re no experts on medieval warfare, but we love how well Chivalry’s combat system makes us feel like badass soldiers. Chop off heads, or bludgeon them to mush, with an assortment of deliciously medieval weapons. We recommend the Bardiche!
Dishonored is the modern successor to Thief. It’s an unabashed love letter to the things that made the 1998 game a cult classic. The game is all about options. As Corvo Attano, a bodyguard-turned-assassin, you’ve got a lot of options. Avoid everyone, or kill every person you come across. There’s even an achievement for completing the game without alerting or killing anyone that isn’t a key character.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West wasn’t a huge hit. It didn’t sell well, and it’s a game that many people haven’t played. The PC port isn’t the best, but it’s a gem-in-the-rough that everyone should play through at least once. It’s a retelling of the classic Chinese novel, Journey to the West. Story is key here, and it’s one of the best examples of standard storytelling in a video game.
You may know Gears of War as a console franchise, but the very first game came to the PC. It’s hard to argue with the game that popularized cover-based shooters. There’s no denying that the original Gears of War was a rambunctiously awesome shooter that helped define Unreal Engine 3. It’s old enough that it’s no longer available for the PC, but it still deserves a spot on our list, if not at least for what it did for the genre.
Mass Effect is an almost universally beloved game and it’s part of a spectacular franchise. Some people prefer the second game, others prefer the first, but we think that the game that started it all is the best to put on the list. It’s not the most playable game in the series, but it represents the beginning of an amazing space opera. This is the Star Wars of video games, and fortunately, there aren’t any prequels—yet.
Mirror’s Edge is parkour in videogame form. Up until Titanfall, it was pretty much the only place to run across walls, do backflips, and jump across buildings. It’s not a perfect game by any means. The combat isn’t the best and the story is a bit crazy. Look past the problems and you’ll find an ambitious game that is videogame escapism at its finest. We may not be able to do parkour in real life, but if Mirror’s Edge is any indication, we’d absolutely love to.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown won game-of-the-year awards at more than a few publications in 2012. It was so successful that it made its way onto iOS. Turn-based strategy was once a dying breed, but XCOM: Enemy Unknown has brought it back in full force. It’s the complete package. Battles are fun, base management is interesting, and your actions feel meaningful. If you can’t handle the fast pace of games like StarCraft II, XCOM is a great way to get your strategy fix.