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Developer(s)Monolith Productions
Stable release
Firebird / 2017; 6 years ago (2017)
TypeGame engine

LithTech is a game engine developed by Monolith Productions and comparable with the Quake and Unreal engines. Monolith and a number of other video game developers have used LithTech as the basis for their first-person shooter games.

Monolith initially developed the engine for Microsoft before purchasing the rights to it and licensing it to other developers via subsidiary LithTech Inc. The licensing company was renamed to Touchdown Entertainment in 2003 and later absorbed into Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment after its acquisition of Monolith.

The last version of LithTech offered for licensing was Jupiter EX, initially released in 2005, however Monolith has continued to use LithTech technology in their games, including Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, released in 2014.[1][2]

After the release of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, the studio started working on a new engine (based on LithTech technology) for larger-scale battles called "Firebird".


LithTech 1.0[edit]

Originally the LithTech engine was supposed to be called DirectEngine, as Monolith was developing it for Microsoft to be included as a 3D engine for use with Microsoft's DirectX technology. When Microsoft decided not to use the engine Monolith bought back the rights to it and continued development on their own.[3] They changed the engine's name to Lithtech and licensed it to other companies. In the following years, the LithTech team was split off into a separate company, LithTech Inc., which was renamed Touchdown Entertainment in March 2003.[4]

LithTech 2.0[edit]

Starting with LithTech 2.0, LithTech Inc. began the process of creating many different versions of the engine. Monolith released their game No One Lives Forever (NOLF) featuring this version of the engine, however it was later revised to LithTech 2.2. The game received an upgrade to LithTech 2.2 in a patch release. The LithTech team then continued to improve version 2.2 for its licensees, resulting in the 2.3 and 2.4 iterations.

LithTech cooperated with RealNetworks in developing a custom version of LithTech 2.2 called RealArcade LithTech (or LithTech ESD). Among its features it supported streaming media for in-game billboards/ads, and could be used with RealNetworks' gaming site. At one time, RealArcade LithTech could be licensed by developers if they signed an agreement with RealNetworks. This engine was used on an internally developed title, Tex Atomic's Big Bot Battles.

LithTech Talon[edit]

LithTech Inc. developed a different engine specifically for Monolith's title, Aliens versus Predator 2. LithTech Talon was based on LithTech 2.2, rather than LithTech 2.4. Because of this choice, LithTech 2.4, RealArcade LithTech, and LithTech Talon became largely incompatible with each other. However, reviewers still thought of it as inferior to Unreal or id Tech.[5][6][7]

LithTech Talon's biggest selling point lay in its capable multiplayer support, more efficient when compared to prior versions of LithTech multiplayer that featured poor networking code. Aliens versus Predator 2 features comprehensive multiplayer gameplay utilizing these improvements.

By 2003, Talon was still being licensed.[8]

LithTech 3.0[edit]

LithTech 3.0 was being developed concurrently with Talon, but, along with its revisions, LithTech 3.x would largely be considered an internal version of the engine. While it was sent to licensees, no games were finished on it. The primary feature announced for LithTech 3.x was the Distributed Object System, a new system for MMORPGs and multiplayer.[9] Unfortunately, LithTech 3.x was also plagued by a significant number of bugs and problems and all games developed with LithTech 3.x would eventually convert to the newer LithTech Jupiter or to Talon.

The unreleased Monolith game Shogo II was being developed with this iteration of the LithTech engine.[10]

LithTech Discovery[edit]

LithTech Discovery was created with the MMORPG genre and its unique requirements in mind. Discovery improved upon the working technology from LithTech 2.2, but also included the Distributed Object System which was the centerpiece of LithTech 3.x. The only game title to be powered by LithTech Discovery was The Matrix Online by Monolith. The engine was never licensed to any other company.

LithTech Jupiter[edit]

LithTech Jupiter was a thorough overhaul of the LithTech technology, developed as an alternative to 3.x.[11] In some ways, the original version of Jupiter was even more technologically advanced than its competitors, since it supported Shader Model 1.x and included a visualization tool, whereas at the time Unreal and Quake only supported CPU-based shaders.[citation needed]

A custom version of Jupiter was made especially for Monolith, for use with their Tron 2.0 game; this release was codenamed LithTech Triton. Eventually, LithTech Triton's new features were merged back into LithTech Jupiter for licensees.

LithTech Jupiter EX[edit]

As of 2005 the latest public iteration of the LithTech engine was Jupiter Extended (or Jupiter EX), which was featured in F.E.A.R. and Condemned: Criminal Origins,[12] both developed by Monolith. Compared to its precursor Jupiter, the Extended version was driven by a new DirectX 9 renderer and other advancements, including the addition of Havok physics software for improved real-world physics simulation, dynamic per-pixel lighting, bump mapping, normal mapping, and specular highlighting. Along with Havok's character dynamics, Jupiter EX also includes the "Havok Vehicle Kit", which adds support for common vehicle behavior.

LithTech Firebird[edit]

Firebird was created with purpose of larger-scale battles and the expansion of the Nemesis system for Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

Games using LithTech[edit]

The following is a partial list of video games built with the LithTech engine, arranged by the version of LithTech used.



This is also the version of the engine used in the development of the LithTech Film Producer machinima tool by Strange Company, most notably used in their short film "Ozymandius".[13] Later development switched over to LithTech 2.0 however.[14]

2.0 and 2.2[edit]






Jupiter EX[edit]


Unknown version[edit]


  1. ^ Morgan, Thomas (October 4, 2014). "Face-Off: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  2. ^ Lane, Rick (July 16, 2017). "SHOGO: Mobile Armor Division - Monolith's forgotten mech shooter". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  3. ^ Mullen, Micheal (April 28, 2000). "Monolith Buys Back Engine". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  4. ^ "Touchdown Entertainment, Inc". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  5. ^ "AvP2: Primal Hunt Review". 2002-11-08. Retrieved 2009-07-06. It's built on the same engine, LithTech's Talon, so don't expect much in the way of graphical upgrades. PH retains the sharp, colorful look of AvP2, with clean textures and effective lighting, but doesn't quite hold up to some other recently released high-profile games
  6. ^ "Aliens vs. Predator 2". Eurogamer. 2002-01-10. Retrieved 2009-07-06. The same engine that powered No One Lives Forever, LithTech 2.5, is employed to handle the activities, but it's an odd choice. It isn't as visually stimulating as Quake III Arena - a game which is already well past its second birthday(...)and combined with some less than dramatic scenery (which is par for the course on LithTech apparently(...)
  7. ^ "No One Lives Forever". Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2009-07-06. While LithTech 2.5 isn't as graphically stunning as the Quake and Unreal engines, it still is an attractive game that runs well even on modest hardware, which, in this reviewer's opinion, is the proverbial 'bottom line' when it comes to graphics
  8. ^ "Purge Review". 2003-05-08. Retrieved 2009-07-06. As for the graphics, Purge is not in any way revolutionary. It uses the outdated LithTech Talon engine (with slight modifications), and delivers graphics accordingly. The textures are low quality and fairly bland
  9. ^ "GDC 2001: Looking at LithTech 3.0". GameSpot. 2001-03-24. Retrieved 2009-07-05. The engine's multiplayer has been overhauled to add client-side prediction(...)As seen in games like Quake III, such prediction routines make network games much more playable for modem users
  10. ^ "GDC 2001: Shogo 2 revealed?". GameSpot. 2001-03-22. Retrieved 2012-09-05. ...featured a giant anime-style robot presumed to be from a sequel to Shogo: Mobile Armor Division...Monolith's CEO Jason Hall stated plainly that the demo was designed to showcase the latest version of the LithTech engine [2001's LithTech 3.0]...
  11. ^ "LithTech Jupiter powering NOLF sequel". GameSpot. 2001-11-12. Retrieved 2009-07-06.
  12. ^ "Graphics Technologies in Games: F.E.A.R". 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2009-09-20. When LithTech 1.0 was released, it couldn't compare with more famous engines like Quake and Unreal. It lacked support for some modern graphics technologies, which were supported by the above-mentioned engines. In return, it was very easy to use, because it was initially developed as part of DirectX, to facilitate game development by third-party companies
  13. ^ "Introducing Ozymandias". Beta News. January 8, 2000.
  14. ^ "Hugh Hancock of Strange Company". Eurogamer. May 10, 2000.
  15. ^ "Western Outlaw: Wanted Dead or Alive Review". GameSpot. 2003-12-22. Retrieved 2009-07-06. According to the manual, Western Outlaw's graphics engine is the LithTech Talon system, which is the same one used in Aliens Versus Predator 2.
  16. ^ "Face-Off: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor". Eurogamer. 2014-10-04. Retrieved 2017-11-04. Built on a new revision of Monolith Productions' LithTech engine...
  17. ^ "Middle-Earth Shadow of War – PC Technical Review". 2017-10-11. Retrieved 2017-11-04. Shadow of War appears to once again use the (even more modified) LithTech engine, now rebranded as Firebird
  18. ^ "Shadow of War highlights the strengths and weaknesses of PS4 Pro". Eurogamer. 2017-10-14. Retrieved 2017-11-04. In three years, it takes us from the Lithtech engine to the new Firebird Engine - upgraded code that now supports larger-scale battles, and an expanded Nemesis system