Ghost Games is suggesting that the next Need For Speed game will look like real life, promoting the title by making an image collage and tempting people to pore over the images to see which one is real and which one is the game.
VG247 spotted the new image and grabbed a quote from vehicle art director Bryn Alban, who stated...
Our aim with this process was to make use of the Physically Based Rendering (PBR) capabilities of our Frostbite engine to create accurate real-world materials, surfaces and lighting to reach a life-like visual image
Now for those of you who don't know, physical based rendering is where the lights are rendered to cast reflections as if they're actually in the environment. It's an advanced technique that brings games closer to the quality of path tracing, which is a technique that can literally give off the visual impression that you're looking at real life images. You can check out the photo collage below to see if you can spot the difference between real life and Need For Speed, the game.
There are a couple of things that give away the game compared to real life. While previous lighting methods usually featured what's called light entities attached to the environment, the physical based rendering in the Need For Speed features more glow, reflection and refraction compared to the old methods. However, it's still not quite realistic.
If you look closely at both images you'll notice that the game still has a slight unnatural glow to it. Also notice very closely that the refraction of the taillight and how it bends on the ground. In real life the light directly hits the ground with very little bend. In Need For Speed, the game, the light balloons out over the ground behind the car. You'll also notice that it doesn't properly bend back toward the car to cast a real-life red glow across the bumper like in the real photo.
Of course, lighting is just one issue... but the comment section on the VG247 article points out a far more obvious difference: the grass in the real photo is detailed and the grass in the game photo is flat.
Unless Ghost Games went over and beyond to implement tessellated grass (which no one would waste doing for a racing game on these eighth-gen consoles) it's kind of obvious which side is real and which one is the game.
However, I have to give it to Ghost Games. They've done a bang-up job with the graphics on this newest title. The fact that anyone would have to look so closely to spot the differences between the cars and the graphics is a testament to how close they've come to achieving the 1:1 ratio of rendering objects with near realistic fidelity.
I'm sure a lot of PC gamers are grumbling right about now, saying “Yeah, we could achieve this kind of fidelity in Grand Theft Auto V if Rockstar didn't encrypt the darn files.” It's okay, you'll get there eventually modders... you'll get there eventually.
Need For Speed is due for release on the Xbox One, PS4 and PC this fall. Worries have mounted over the game's always-on requirement and it's something I hope EA clarifies before release so they can avoid another SimCity fiasco.