Golly Gee: BioShock And Deus Ex Sure Look Nice In UE4

By Nathan Grayson on April 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm.

Sometimes you want to charge guns, swords, and words a-blazin into a game world and tame the land until Iron Maiden writes a song about you. Other times, you just want to heft your heavy eyelids, sip a light tea, and gently sail through friendly old places made new again. You’ve got a long day ahead of you, but you don’t have to venture out into the cruel sadlands of life just yet. Remember better days. Here, let me help with videos of the original BioShock and Deus Ex: Human Revolution re-realized in Unreal Engine 4. They’re quite a sight.

In both cases, assets and concepts from the original games were given exceedingly thorough Unreal Engine 4 spit ‘n’ shine jobs. The end result is what you see before you. Rapture looks dingier, drearier, and more waterlogged than ever, and Deus Ex is so sterile that I can practically feel the frosty glass stinging my skin.

Graphics! I do like this sort of videogame archaeology, though. Dig up a piece of gaming history, brush it off, and put it on display for all the world to see. Puts the mind in an interesting place, too. In BioShock’s case, we’re looking at a game that – love it or hate it – arose from a very specific set of circumstances, a triple-A publisher putting mega-buck backing behind a fever vision undersea metropolis. Irrational itself is sleeping with the fishes now, and publishers are more cautious than ever with their money. We’ll probably never see anything quite like Rapture’s strange majesty again, feel the way we felt the first time the bathysphere spat us into this corpse of a place. Also, it’s weird to realize that a game released in 2007 now qualifies as nostalgia fodder. Where did the time go, and how can I get it back?

I wouldn’t mind exploring these revisions myself, but I feel like they’d quickly show their seams. Maybe it’s better this way. Or not, but both videos are nice to look at nonetheless. Can’t complain too much about that. Or well, some people can, but it’s just too early for me. I have tea to finish.

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61 Comments »

  1. adamsorkin says:

    That is quite an exit sign that we’re getting an interminably slow zoom on.

  2. TheMightyEthan says:

    The Bioshock one to me looks basically like Bioshock already did, except with better lighting. Also, why are the Big Daddies missing their drills?

    Deus Ex, on the other hand, looks amazing.

    • Kollega says:

      I totally agree… the Deus Ex video looks really really good, but Bioshock video basically looks like Bioshock already does/did.

      And actually, this might be another confirmation of the idea that as graphics technology advances, the brightly-lit and brightly-colored spaces a-la Mirror’s Edge will improve dramatically. I don’t see much improvement in the grime-mold-and-blood-covered Bioshock environment, but the brightly-lit sterile Deus Ex environment looks amazing.

      • TheVGamer says:

        I don’t think you’ve seen Bioshock in a long time – it kinda looks grungy, not nearly as good as this demo.

        • Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

          Most of the readers haven’t. I agree, visual memories tend to blur, but this isn’t a rocket science to put a bunch of frames rendered on old engine for comparison.

          P.S.
          Also, yay for Deus Ex: they have finally removed the coffee filter bug of previous generation rendering technique.

          • szlevi says:

            “Also, yay for Deus Ex: they have finally removed the coffee filter bug of previous generation rendering technique.”

            ?

        • drewski says:

          Yeah, having just finished a Bioshock 2 playthrough, the fidelity of the assets in the UE4 tech is ridiculously higher.

      • headless97 says:

        Little known fact: Bioshock is actually on the Unreal Engine 2, albeit a heavily modified version, which was used for UT2k4, not the UE3 like most people think. It’s really impressive that they were able to coax such amazing graphics out of such an old engine.

        http://www.joystiq.com/2010/11/03/bioshock-infinite-is-to-unreal-engine-3-as-bioshock-was-to-unrea/

        And Deus Ex was one the Unreal Engine 1, making its UE4 paint job look all the sweeter.

    • Viroso says:

      Didn’t even think the lighting looked good on Bioshock. It looked like Bioshock lightning times 10000. Super glossy, unusually glistening.

    • Roz says:

      There’s no drill because I assume the modder couldn’t find the drill files/animations.

    • Cinek says:

      If not the title I’d never guess it got anything to deal with Deus Ex. Looks like generic Sci-Fi-themed room.

      • luukdeman111 says:

        That’s probably because everything in this video isn’t brown… If they added a very over the top brown/gold filter you would probably immediately recognize it as Deus Ex: HR

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      I’m not too impressed by either one, but I think that’s because the art direction in both games was so solid that just making them shinier and bumpier doesn’t add much.

      • gwathdring says:

        Yeah. If anything I like the Bioshock one more than the Deus Ex one … surprise it uses more original assets!

        Both of these are just … shinier and higher tech. Deus-Ex and Bioshock were absolutely gorgeous games crafted with love and a robust sense of specific atmosphere.

        The bio-shock one feels like a decent replica–the shinyness makes it look like a better replica than it is. The Deus-Ex one bears no almost no relation. It looks utterly out of place. I’m not impressed at all; I’ve seen much better re-imaginings and fan-made HD upgrades and whatnot.

        It’s worth remembering that sometimes you don’t want things to look hi-fi and/or realistic. Some of the greatest works of art bear no resemblance to reality and make use of lo-fi techniques whether by explicit choice or material/technical/technological limitations. Think of how amazing a lot of concept art looks; it’s the same idea. Limiting the graphical fidelity of a work is not necessarily limiting to the aesthetic product and sometimes it is a boon. I think in Bioshock’s case, there is a point where an upgrade would have been favorable (see: Bioshock: Infinite’s coherent graphical improvements on the Bioshock style). This really doesn’t improve it in the right ways, though; it abandons the style in favor of making it more shiny.

    • Lemming says:

      By ‘better lighting’ I assume you mean ‘shit lighting’. Light seems to be bouncing off everything like it’s polished silver regardless of what the material is made out of.

    • Neptonic says:

      You got to remember for the Bioshock one that he is using the original textures, which aren’t great.

      • Scumbag says:

        Textures was the biggest issue I had with this. The lighting can be wonderful (too dark to really judge) but the remaining assets just look very aged. Sure there is Vaseline dirty cam, but thats not an improvement imo.

  3. Stijn says:

    The Deus Ex one sure looks nice, but I’m almost ashamed to admit I have no clue what part of the game it is from. Or is it just something inspired by that game, rather than a re-implemented area?

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      It looks to me like the labs at the beginning of the game, before the attack.

    • karthink says:

      It wasn’t in the game. It’s based on Deus Ex: Human Revolution concept art. The video description on Youtube explains.

      • Stardreamer says:

        I wondered why it didn’t have much of an NG resonance with me….

  4. luckyb0y says:

    Holy bloom overload Batman!!! I thought we were way past that phase by now. Unless your room is filled with thick fog or smoke real light sources don’t glow like that.

    • ZIGS says:

      “we were past that phase”… oh, you naive one… it’s only just beginning. Shit like bloom; blur, depth of field, lens flare etc will only gonna get (even) worse from this point on

    • vedder says:

      Most artists I know are smokers, so perhaps they don’t know any better than rooms being full of smoke?

  5. stele says:

    I’m trying to figure out what kind of camera/lens I’m supposed to be looking through in the Bioshock video. Nice lens flares! :-P

    • Ich Will says:

      Looks like an Industar-69 with a botched conversion to M4/3 flange distance to me (6 bladed variety) or maybe the new sigma art zoom?

      • TechnicalBen says:

        What I’d give to have your eyes…. your eyes, can I purchase them?

  6. Prolar Bear says:

    As somebody who still doesn’t know anything about coding, I’m wondering: is it feasible to take the original assets of, say, an UE3 game and use them to rebuild the game in UE4 (thus being able to add 75,2% more shinies)?

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      As long as you still have the original files.
      The textures and models that go into the game are created as low-res version of the real assets, gigantic textures and models with a lot of polygons.

    • Siimon says:

      I’ll answer this as a non-expert: A part of it, yes, but UE4 doesn’t magically add all the shinies. It might add some, but not all.
      Oversimplification:
      You have a 1997 Toyota. You paint it with a $2000 paint job. Is it shiny? Yes! But it still doesn’t have the curves of a Ferrari :)

      • Cinek says:

        Large part of why these models look as amazing as they do is using different layers of materials, like parallax mapping, specular maps, or all of the UE-specific types of textures. It’ll never be as simple as just taking 3D models and textures from an older game to import them into the new one.

    • Prolar Bear says:

      Thanks guys! It’s more or less as I had figured: you need to update the original models and textures and then add more shinies. Though I didn’t know the original assets were much of much higher quality and the ingame ones, interesting.

  7. Muzman says:

    Really amazingly undewhelmed by the Bioshock one. Possibly because it’s doing everything I thought Bioshock did wrong at higher res; High contrast, punishing shininess and extra lumpy bumpmaps, loads of glare. The texturing’s not up to much either in a lot of places. Flat plain stuff beside very highres stuff next to heavily noised ‘dirty’ stuff.

    Just a fan effort I guess. Doesn’t really show off the engine any.

    • houldendub says:

      My theory is that, well, Bioshock was already on a mishmash of Unreal Engine 2.5 and 3, and this just being an updated version of the engine, yeah, it’s not going to look fantastically different apart from the standard improvements.

      Same could be said on the differences between Frostbite 2 and 3, as well as Cryengine 2 and 3.

  8. kyrieee says:

    The Deus Ex video sure looks shiny but I don’t think it looks good (artistically) and in any case it reminds me more of Mirror’s Edge than Human Revolutoin.

  9. Keyrock says:

    I’m a bit disappointed that the DX:HR video doesn’t have any character models in it, since that’s the part of the game’s graphics that, in my opinion, most needed an upgrade.

  10. Xerophyte says:

    The Deus Ex scene looks great but it leans very heavily on the rough reflection environment stuff in UE4 in a way that probably wont work as well in an actual game. To try to put it non-technically: the reflections are all (laboriously) pre-computed for a couple of choice spots in the room and can therefore only include static geometry. They can’t include doors that move, people, robots and so on.

    This is fine if you’re careful, but it can potentially start look really goddamn weird if you go overboard. For instance, if you have a bunch of large tube lights in the ceiling that can’t cast proper shadows and a bunch of prominent metal doors that can’t reflect people standing in front of them

    It’s still an excellent demo for what the tech can do (and for Quixel’s materials library, which I guess was its point) but viewers should bear in mind that there’s a huge difference in what you can do with a static scene compared to something that needs to work with dynamic actors. Games cannot do some of that stuff, for good reasons.

    • Docm30 says:

      I’m pretty sure his scene uses Screen Space Reflections, which obviously reflect characters, as well as everything else. When combined with cubemaps by some shader magic, SSRs are a pretty convincing effect.

  11. SuicideKing says:

    Now i want all my favourite old games made shinier.

  12. cpt_freakout says:

    You know what needs the UE4 treatment? The Game Boy version of Donkey Kong.

  13. particlese says:

    That and Faceball 2000.

    BLAST! Reply fail. See cpt_freakout’s splendid suggestion.

  14. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    Damn, all this reference to Human Revolution as “Deus Ex” with no further qualification is really, really starting to irritate me. Even disregarding the fact that I hold the original to be the best game of all time and HR to be a pale pretender, it just makes reading about the games so, so confusing! I don’t recall this happening with Invisible War. Can we just say DX, IW, and HR? It makes life a lot easier, and you don’t have to type the full title each time.

    *Don’t get me started on when publishers themselves do this. Looking at you, Thiaf.

    • baozi says:

      +1 on all points, just wanted to post something like this.

    • The Random One says:

      Relax. I assure you even people who liked Human Resources consider it to be the other Deus Ex game that wasn’t the complete utter failure we feared it’d be. We’re just casually referring to it casually as Deus Ex here because it’s obvious we’re not referring to the real Deus Ex. You’re essentially flipping out at people casually talking about an acquaintance named Brian because your father was named Brian and he was a great man and people should always think of him when they say the name Brian.

      • baozi says:

        I don’t know, man. There are lots of Brians around, but only three Deus Ex games (all of which I liked). I guess I’m just a bitter pessimist, but I sometimes see this substitution thing as a kind of hijacking. When people talk about »Thief« in a decade, do you want them to refer to the 2014 version or the original? Especially since the original Thief and Deus Ex are a bit old already, so many people won’t even have played them, and just know the newer incarnations.

        Well, maybe the last point is the thing that scares me the most about conflating this stuff. I guess I don’t want people to think that »Thief« is a shit game, and I want them to know the beauty that was the original Deus Ex.

  15. caff says:

    Regardless of the “source content vs. have they made it better” argument, there are some stunning FX on show there, notably the use of global illumination in the Deus Ex scenes.

    Let’s hope that developers aren’t afraid to use all these features in their games (appropriately, of course) and don’t hold back because enabling them causes poor performance on crappy Xbox ones and PS4s.

    • DanMan says:

      Exciting times ahead for sure. Those minor details on the ground (like scratches and stuff) and tubes in the DeusEx video (doesn’t really look like DEX at all tbh.) give the room much more character (for lack of a better word). Can’t wait. But let’s not fall back into the early days of UE3, where really everything had been coated with a thick layer of vaseline. Remember Me uses the UE really well, for example, with none of that silliness.

      Oh, the Bioshock one is not available in my Country. :/

      P.S.: Ey, Nvidia! Bring on them Maxwells already! You hear me?

  16. MattM says:

    I’m optimistic. I think that ambitious AAA games with neat high concept settings won’t be common, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them.

  17. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I would like to wander round that Deus Ex place with an Oculus Rift. The floors look touchably rubbery

  18. Jason Moyer says:

    If Unreal 4 magically turned everything into Mirror’s Edge/Remember Me, I wouldn’t complain.

  19. 2late2die says:

    I would love to play the original Deus Ex in a modern engine like UE4 or Cry Engine 3 – in fact, I would pay the standard $50 for it. *sigh* Honestly, redoing Deus Ex in a modern engine would probably be a better use of resources than doing Deus Ex Online – you know they’re working on it.

  20. Grimmyn says:

    Love this. Get hope up that there could be upgrades to these games.
    Game engine updates and better graphics.
    Would make me buy the games again on steam and replay once again.

  21. KirbyEvan says:

    Was anyone else turned off by how shiny and rubbery everything looked?

    It looks like one of those Blender animations with too much ambient occlusion.

  22. buxcador says:

    The law of diminishing returns already kicked in.

    I played the same game again lots of times, just because I got a new CPU or GPU, or it was ported to a new engine, or it got better textures… Just for the gore of seeing it with better graphics.

    I still would play again Doom II or Tomb Raider I with this new engine.

    But I would not play again Bioshock, or Dead Space just to see how it looks on this engine, which by the way still shows some curved surfaces broken with triangles (the lamp border on Bioshock looked made by right lines instead of a curve).
    But even if it were flawless, is not compelling enough.

    I would play again Bioshock or Dead Space, if I were promised that this time I would be able to break any wall, and find new rooms, and it would not have unmovable boxes apparently made of indestructible concrete, furniture apparently nailed to the floor… Or If I could find new ways of hypnotizing a big daddy to lead him to another big daddy and make them fight to dead.

    I would play again Dead Space, if it included a weaponless mode, were I could set traps, and use strategy,. like closing a door by remote control, to kill a passing necromorph.
    I would play it again if I could find dogs in the way, and have the objective of saving the maximum quantity of dogs, escorting them to the end of the game. Or if objects were not dissapearing when I cross a door. I remember that I was carrying an explosive barrel, and it dissapeared suddenly, breaking my plan to accumulate enough of explosives to kill many monsters and saving bullets. I would love to cut a hole in a wall, to safely shoot the enemy across the hole.

    Those kind of improvements are fun. Better graphics are not.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Not going to touch your other points, but you can make big daddies fight each other in BioShock.

  23. munkifrog says:

    i personally thought that they both looked very pretty, particularly that one room in deus ex, I’d love to spend 50+ hours in a game if it was in a room like that :D