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Intel Has Made GTA Look Almost Too Real

While most Rockstar games come with a healthy dose of social satire, graphically speaking, they're just about as grounded in reality as video games get. From the way that sunlight shines through characters' ear cartilage to each unique cliff face and blade of grass, Rockstar's game-changing "Red Dead Redemption 2" is widely considered to be one of the most realistic-looking games ever made. And while the graphical realism of Rockstar's previous game, "Grand Theft Auto 5," was considered groundbreaking at the time of its 2013 release, its graphics haven't really held up all that well — until now.

As reported by The Verge, Intel's redundantly named "Enhancing Photorealism Enhancement" project takes the already relatively realistic graphics of "GTA 5" and pushes them past their limits (much like the horrific things some of the "GTA" games pushed players to do). According to its GitHub listing, the project, which was conceived by a group of Intel's Intelligent Systems Labs scientists, is "an approach to enhancing the realism of synthetic images," which is performed by "[analyzing] scene layout distributions in commonly used datasets and find that they differ in important ways."

While that might sound a bit vague on paper, the videos included in the listing explain the rather obtuse science behind the process. But the really intriguing part of the video is where it shows off the technology itself — and the result is truly mind-blowing, especially when compared to "GTA 5" in its un-modded state. As explained by The Verge, this graphical realism is at least partly due to a neural network that has been fed a series of datasets containing high-quality images of real-life cities.

What will GTA 6 actually look like?

While Rockstar has yet to reveal, well ... anything about "Grand Theft Auto 6," the "GTA" series' inevitable next mainline entry, it's easy to imagine what it might look like, graphically-speaking. 

As previously mentioned, "Red Dead Redemption 2" dialed video game realism up to 11, thanks in no small part to the Swedish environment-scanning specialists at Quixel. The company, led by asset collector Teddy Bergsman, boasts "the world's largest library of scanned 3D assets." According to Wired, Quixel's asset library was tapped to create many of the natural assets found in "RDR 2," a practice that Rockstar might very well repeat in the development of "GTA 6."

It might seem like a given, but it appears that "GTA 6" will continue Rockstar's use of high-definition motion capture as well, if a leaked detail about potential "GTA 6" actor Jorge Consejo can be believed. The actor, whose resume was updated to include a credit in "GTA 6," also points out that the role is somehow related to CGI, meaning he likely provided motion capture work for his role as a character called "The Mexican."

The jury's still out on whether "Grand Theft Auto 6" will look as good as Intel's Enhancing Photorealism Enhancement technology makes its predecessor look. But given Rockstar's pedigree for creating near-true-to-life representations of both people and environments — natural and urban — chances are good that the next entry in the beloved chaos simulator will look criminally gorgeous.