To start with I have to say that, although there was a lot of noise about the Unreal Engine, I found it massively underwhelming. The lava teeming down the chutes looked as basic as can be and as far as cutscene’s go, it doesn’t really seem to show anything we haven’t seen before in terms of visual quality.
One of the biggest visual presentations (for me) came from Square Enix. Square Enix are a company I want to love - I really do - but Final Fantasy XIII left a baaaad taste in my mouth. However, the Agni's Philosophy; Final Fantasy Realtime Tech Demo is something a little bit special. Come back and read the rest of this article once you've watched the trailer above.
I know what you're thinking, that you've seen this level of CGI in games before - from Square Enix, in fact. Well that's true, but what you need to consider is that this is a real time demo of an engine, not a cutscene. What you just watched was in game footage, a notion that was demonstrated when the chap ran through the demo again, paused it, and started moving the camera around! As the scene was paused, he changed the style and colour of the old man's beard, then let it continue, and went on to explain how the particle effects around the summoned creature are in fact 100,000 separate polygons, which he illuminated on the fly. It won’t be long before we are running around games that look as good as that sequence!
The footage of both engines was very impressive and visually stunning. An interesting question we need to ask ourselves is this; could this sort of technology influence how the pre-visualisation of CGI in the film industry is created. Having this sort of feedback relatively quickly, even though it wouldn't be near the sort of quality of a final render could speed up the workflow of artists in the film industry and even more so of the CG commercials division as time restraints are far tighter and turn over a lot faster.