Community modder GTARenderHook adds ray tracing support to three landmark Grand Theft Auto titles, vastly improving the look of the games.
Three classic Grand Theft Auto titles just got a major facelift thanks to a community modder and a hefty dose of ray tracing, and they look good enough to be remasters. Players waiting for Grand Theft Auto 6 can now wait it out with a trip down memory lane with some of the most acclaimed installments in the Grand Theft Auto series looking their very best.
Apart from the critical reputation of the three games that got the work done, it’s also worth noting that the technical feat that is ray tracing is now more readily available in a modder or developer’s toolkit. Ray tracing, which is a rendering technique to simulate light interaction with objects, adds incredible depth and realism, but at massive and often prohibitive computational cost. It demands a lot of processing power even for static graphic imagery, let alone for dynamic content like video games or film. It didn’t make its way into the film industry until 2013, and had limited presence in the gaming industry due to the interactive and real-time nature of video games.
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Current-gen consoles like the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S now have the processing power to take advantage of ray tracing without sacrificing a significant amount of frame rate, which means that the technique is more widely available in modern titles, and – as these GTA facelifts show – applicable to older titles,as well. Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, and San Andreas all got the ray tracing treatment from modder GTARenderHook, as shown in the below screencaps posted on Twitter. While adding and improving reflections and shadows doesn’t sound like groundbreaking technology, it definitely improves the overall look of the game – maybe not to current gen status, but certainly close.
The fact that ray tracing is more accessible to modders is an indicator of how far technology has come in console gaming, and how accessible it has become in the process. It’s also testament to the processing power of current-gen consoles that the technique can be wielded less discriminately, and even modded games can still run it effectively without issues. It’s a good indicator that remasters of nostalgic titles like older Grand Theft Auto installments will be easier to produce, since ray tracing alone provides a dramatic improvement in the quality of the graphics.
So while Grand Theft Auto 6 is still maybe, possibly, likely in production, fans of the series can get a taste of what the newest title will look like as the first installment to be released on current-gen consoles, while playing games they already know are the best in the series – courtesy of friendly neighborhood modders.
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