Monday, December 4, 2023

Birds in Video Games: Grand Theft Auto 6 Trailer

The trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6, maybe the most-anticipated video game in history, leaked on social media last night. It looks pretty goddamn rad. The game returns to Vice City, a fictional town based heavily on Miami, and the trailer is set firmly in the nutso world of South Florida. 

Plus, there are a TON of birds.

Birds and other wildlife appear throughout the trailer, especially early on when the setting is being established. As I do, I wanted to take a close look -- going on the trailer and trailer alone -- and give my thoughts on how things look.

The very first image in the trailer includes some birds flapping and wheeling in the upper left. They are .. odd. They've got broad wings and are spinning in a kettle like Black Vultures would do, only they're flapping really quickly unlike any bird at all. Honestly they look like fruit bats. 

There are birds in very next scene, as well: some goose-looking birds flying over the barbed wire in the top left. The structure looks pretty good for geese, though they never fly in scattered flocks like this. Would be great to get the in a realistic formation, but they may not be geese at all.

The trailer kicks into gear (the Tom Petty soundtrack rules) with a flying shot over a beach, with a bunch of pelicans cruising past. They look pretty good for Brown Pelicans (I think the odd whiteness on their wings is just an artifact of the bright sunlight), which are the expected birds here. Not bad.

Check out this awesome shot of an airboat cranking through some Everglades-y landscape. Ducks are flushing from the grass, and they look pretty good for Mallards or other Anas. Getting South Louisiana vibes more than South Florida, but what do I know?

The moneyshot! Look at this goddamn image! This looks more like the Everglades, and has just a boatload of what look to be pretty accurate American Flamingos flying around. 

It's pretty funny. I know the summer of 2023 was a wild one for flamingos in the states, but they're much less common than many non-birders believe. As in, there's sometimes only a single known individual in all of Florida at any one time. A flock like this hasn't been seen anywhere in the U.S., not even South Florida, in centuries. Still, cool.

There are some other birds in this shot, too. There are some cranes on the left side that @ramone_rita pointed out on Twitter look okay for juvenile cranes, which have orange feathering up their necks, though the plumage isn't quite right for either Sandhill or Whooping.

There are also some ducks and/or geese on the right side, just over the back of a flamingo. 

 Birds aren't the only wildlife in the trailer. A bunch of gators make appearances (along with a pod of dolphins in one of the early overhead ocean shots), including one menacing its way into a convenience store. This image above, which appears to be from the social media account of some kind of in-game wildlife group, makes me think that there's probably a mechanic or side quest in the game for capturing troublesome wildlife. I bet there's a Green Anaconda round-up, or maybe some feral hog wrangling. We'll see.

Birds make a brief appearance in the very final image, too, flying by right above the guy's arm and behind the middle telephone line. Birds are all over this game, though my initial sense is that there's some work to do to make them as accurate as the rest of the South Floridian world playable in the game. We'll know more when the game comes out in 2025. 

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