A lot of the big 3D engines are more indie friendly these days.
Unity3D is pretty awesome and easy to jump into, however unless you have the $1500 to shell out a license there are things you can't do without such as realtime lighting, AA, DoF.
UDK (Unity Dev Kit) is full featured SDK that does a lot, free to use and you only pay a percent if you make over $250k (or .. $25k .. ) which is fairly reasonable. Basically, you only pay for it if you make any money. On the flip side, it's not as easy to figure out as Unity3D. It would take some time and going through a lot of tutorials before you figure it out.
If you've never used a 3D engine before, you're going to be confused pretty quick. BUT once you get the basics it's pretty exciting.
I would also recommend Blender for your modeling needs. You CAN make games in Blender as well, but it's not as robust or easy to use as Unity or UDK.