Stunning Unreal 3 iOS Tech Demo Now Available for Download

If you're looking for an app to show off your iPad, your search is over. At yesterday's Apple event, Epic Games announced a new game for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch called Project Sword, an action RGP being made exclusively for iOS. Minutes later, Epic Games went and released a tech demo as a free app available via iTunes that lets you explore the castle environment in awesome detail.

It's called Epic Citadel, and it's an 82.2MB download powered by Epic's Unreal Engine 3 technology. We gave the tech demo a spin and, well, let's just say we're officially excited about the future of gaming on tablets and other mobile devices.

Let's forget for a moment that this is only available for iOS -- that admittedly sucks -- because with the rash of Android- and Windows-based slates in the pipeline, it will only be a matter of time before we see something similar for other platforms. In the meantime, the Apple faithful (and Apple curious, as the case may be) have a chance to see what gaming done right on the iPad can look like.

There are two ways to traverse the castle realm, the first being the now-familiar thumbstick controls in the lower left and right corners. But you can also tap anywhere on the screen and your character will merrily make his way over there in first-person form without getting stuck. As he's walking, you're free to look around the environment by swiping your finger in any direction. It feels natural, and best of all, the scenery flows by smoothly without any lag or jerkiness. It will be interesting to see if Epic Games can maintain this same level of performance when there are other characters bustling about.

It's hard not to be impressed when you take a moment to look around, which is all you can do (being a tech demo and all). There are real-time reflections and animation, bump offset mapping, dynamic specular lighting with texture masks, and a whole host of other graphics technologies to be taken in. Remarkably, Epic Games claims its team of programmers only took eight weeks to code the demo.

This far and away has the potential to be one of the best games on the iOS platform, though as we mentioned, it's going to depend on what the performance is like once the deserted landscape is littered with NPCs. Armed with a custom 1GHz A4 SoC (system-on-a-chip) processor and just 256MB of RAM, there isn't a ton of horsepower inside this "magical" tablet to push a higher end gaming experience, so as impressed as we are with this tech demo, it's with tempered enthusiasm that we look forward to Project Sword, and beyond.

In the meantime, this is the app you want to show your friends when trying to justify why you spent a small fortune on Apple's first-gen slate.

Epic Citadel Download (iTunes)
Epic Citadel FAQ