We here at PC Gamer are aficionados of the horror that is old graphics card art, featuring such design classics as ‘frog in a mech suit’, ‘creepy naked goblin’ and ‘alien made out of aluminium’. The promise of performance has never been made in weirder ways.
The crowd of 70,000 people watching the Carolina Panthers versus the New York Jets this Sunday probably weren’t thinking of the Radeon X550’s box art, but something along those lines is what they got. This match, in the Panther’s home stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, featured the debut of an Unreal Engine panther that jumps around the stadium interior and roof, pausing only to rip up a virtual New York Jets banner.
The panther seems a bit of an ungracious host. And also just… not very pleasant? Big Zuul vibes. I guess half-time entertainment will always be a thing, but does it have to be an unskippable boss cutscene? What’s wrong with a good old marching band and Gunnersaurus, eh.
The mixed-reality panther was shown on in-stadium videoboards and pumped through the sound system. If it seems vaguely familiar that’s probably because creators The Famous Group have produced adjacent happenings for gaming companies like Riot (at the 2017 LoL world championship finals, above), and also made a mixed-reality raven for the Baltimore Ravens back in 2019. The LoL one is fantastic, perhaps because the event itself seems a more obvious fit for a giant CG dragon, and the spectacle of a live band performing and teams taking to the stage amidst the chaos.
As for the Carolina Panthers: well, it’s a good thing they won the match after this spectacle, imagine doing this to your opponents’ flag then taking a beating. I’m also glad it exists because there were people in the comments asking if it was real. Yeah, the mainstream media really slept on that giant panther that stomped like 500 people and half a football team.