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Photo-realistic FIFA: EA says it's 'pretty close'

Development chief David Rutter talks graphics, PC

EA Sports believes that it's getting "pretty close" to the dream of photo-realistic visuals in its flagship FIFA series.

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The label's due to release its latest iteration, FIFA 12, later this year - complete with improved collisions, a reworked defensive system, 'Precision dribbling' and enhanced player intelligence.

It's looking even slicker than ever before, judging by the gameplay videos and screens EA has already revealed.

In the same week that AMD claimed the next-gen of consoles will match the visuals of James Cameron's Avatar, we asked FIFA development chief David Rutter how far off EA Sports feels it is from true photo-realism.

"I think we're pretty close," he said. "We break down the game in close scrutiny rather than general scrutiny - I think [now] if you saw someone playing FIFA from a distance you wouldn't know. There are believability challenges around faces and things like that, but the physicality of the players, the lighting, the cameras the setting... the whole thing from a distance looks amazing.

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"The closer in you get in towards our players and our models [is what we concentrate on]. After seeing the screenshots we provide and our promotional material, everyone's like: 'When will we see gameplay?' It is gameplay! We don't have the time to make this stuff up.

"In terms of photo-realism, we're getting closer, but we're ultimately more concerned with that in-gameplay experience. Everything else is supportive. The team have got to where we've got to in the last few years by focusing on that."

However, unlike fellow developers such as Epic and Crytek, Rutter said that EA's Vancouver, Canada team were not concerning themselves with the state of next-gen consoles.

"We literally haven't given it a moment's thought," he added. "We're busy scurrying around on 360, PS3 and PC. Could we go across [to a new console]? Probably, but we're not doing anything in that direction now."

Rutter confirmed that FIFA 12 on PC would be available on EA's download platform Origin, and claimed that it would look and play "absolutely identically to console".

"It shares all of the same game modes, gameplay, online the lot," he said. "The only difference on PC is that if you have a machine that's capable of it, you can run it at a better resolution with better anti-aliasing. Literally plug a USB controller into it, and it's the same."

Rutter was more coy when it came to the possibility of FIFA 12 becoming available on Steam - a natural competitor to Origin. When CVG asked if the game would make its way to to Valve's platform, he replied: "I've no idea."

Battlefield 3, from stablemate DICE, is reportedly being omitted from Steam following a decision by EA.

FIFA 12 is due for release on PC, PSP, 3DS, PS2, PS3, Wii and 360 in the autumn.

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