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Unreal Engine demos not from Gears 2

But Gears 2 is likely to use those features.

Epic Games vice president Mark Rein has said that the Unreal Engine tech demos shown off during Wednesday's Microsoft keynote speech at GDC were not from Gears of War 2.

"You're not seeing any Gears of War 2 material," he told a group of journalists cobbled together for a UE press demo. Apparently they were based on leftover bits of Gears of War 1. The demos, not the journalists.

However, that doesn't mean Gears 2 won't have things like fancy water, destructible environments, hundreds of Locust on-screen and soft-body physics. "We generally don't put features in our engine that we don't use in-game," he said.

Gears 2 wouldn't necessarily be the first game to feature any of that, either - as licensees are free to use things whenever they like.

In the Unreal Engine demo, Rein first demonstrated the new water, which uses normal mapping to help with the surface effect, with little waves lapping around dynamic objects and bigger ones reacting to things like objects splashing down.

We also saw the destruction technology courtesy of Marcus Fenix's Torque Bow, and this is apparently built on clever programming that doesn't render the internal meshes of blown-apart objects (e.g. the steel framework inside a steel-reinforced concrete pillar) until it needs to be displayed to the player.

Then there was the many-Locust demo, where 600 or so were on-screen at once. This tops out at 1000 apparently, and each can navigate the Gears world and around each other already.

Finally there was the "soft-body physics", with the meat cube and the mercury "ooze ball" (thanks Mark). These things will be adhesive, able to be flung at a wall and then slide down gradually. Take this idea and apply it to lumps of flesh. Yuck!

Gears 2 may also benefit from impressive new facial motion-capture technology, which is set to join the partners programme of software that works with Unreal Engine soon. Judging by the demo video we were shown, Marcus might even get to crack a smile.

Watch out for more on Gears of War 2 and Unreal Engine 3 soon. Good timing, too, since today also sees the PS3 version of Unreal Tournament III launch across Europe.

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Tom Bramwell


Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.