Next-Gen FIFA – The Truly Beautiful Game?


By 7pm (BST) tonight, we would have all seen what EA Sports’s Next-Gen FIFA will offer in terms of eye candy and visual goodness.

With 3 hours to go, we thought it was time we revealed who was behind the infamous Sky Sports Super Sunday CG trailer and whether it could potentially be matched by Next-Gen FIFA on PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox.

In September 2009, with FIFA 10 about to launch, Sky Sports aired their intro trailer for the 2009/10 season Live Super Sunday Premier League broadcast. The video sent some shock waves through the gaming world with suggestions that this trailer may have been running on a future FIFA engine. That assumption was further supported by the partnership between EA Sports and the Premier League/Sky Sports. However, these claims only have a slight element of truth to them, as the trailer was not produced by EA Sports in fact, nor was it created by the Sky Sports production team alone. The trailer was the product of The Mill, a global advertising and video production firm that produce adverts for some of the biggest brands globally including those Nike Football adverts you all love.

Don’t believe it? Click here for the proof!

The trailer was directed by a Sky Sports production team, but is entirely animation. The production team said that the most challenging aspect of the project was the modelling and texturing of the individual players themselves.

“Ideally when you’re creating famous people it’s best if you can laser scan them, however that isn’t often possible, so on this occasion our team of character modellers painstakingly built them from photographic reference, and in all honesty this went right to the wire as many of the players have matured or changed their hair from when the photos were taken” said Tom Bussell, VFX Supervisor and Lead animator on the project.

It was an impressive feat and one that made football gaming fans drop their jaws in awe. At the time the current-generation was at it’s peak with yearly releases of games seeing some impressive advances. But on the day of the Next-Gen FIFA announcement, this video provides the best example of what we can expect.

Looking through the images you can see an impressive array of graphical effects including Animations, Crowd Simulation, Light Effects, Architecture, Environments, Objects, Stadiums, Weather, Colour Grading and Compositing. Some of these effects we hope to see in tonight’s Next-Gen FIFA unveiling.

We will analyse a couple of these images in detail and leave the rest for you to pick in your own time in the gallery at the bottom of the article. The first image below shows a certain Arsenal star jumping over a tackle, with the beautiful Emirates Stadium in the background. The most striking effects in this image being the lighting effects of the scene and the incredible fabric creasing on Theo Walcott’s shirt. The attentions to detail on the kit is further highlighted by the lighting effects, these are all graphical techniques we would love to see in the Next-Gen FIFA.

The next image shows an entirely different climate, with a winter setting and an almost blizzard like conditions. The snow is impressive and the way the wind is impacting it’s movement even more so. Again the lighting effects add to the environment and help to present this different season in the trailer, but the impressive detail on the Chelsea kit and the Lampard player model is again sumptuous. The generic player behind Lampard also seems to have some mud on his kit. We would love to see some kits getting dirty in the Next-Gen FIFA engine.

Now we come to the famous Anfield on a rainy british evening and a screen shot of Steven Gerrard during his heyday. Here we see some water artifacts on the grass and the ball, with the exemplary effects of the water splashing as the player attempts a slide tackle on Stevie G. Looking at the Liverpool Talisman, you can see hair on his limbs, and the cloth creasing effects with his shorts riding up as he changes direction is brilliant.

Finally we leave you with a shot of the Wayne Rooney hitting a long ranger at an Old Trafford that has never looked better virtually! On closer inspection you can see bits of the turf flying in the aftermath of his venomous shot. Again the fabric effects on Rooney’s kit is incredible, but the photo-realistic effects of the grass and the general environment are what make the image truly stand out. The lighting effects do play a role in bringing this trailer to life, however, the colour palette is impressive to say the least. We sincerely hope the Net-Gen FIFA can shed some of it’s cartoony nature.

So there you have it. An impressive CG trailer that has long fooled many football gaming fans out there. But it was not created on any EA Sports game engine. The only thing EA contributed to the making of this video was that they supplied the assets for the kits and some other bits and bobs.

Bring on tonight’s unveiling!

I'm a huge fan of the PES, MGS and Uncharted series', and anything else in between. If you love a good gaming discussion or want to talk about anything else, then feel free to get in touch.


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