Once merely a pipe dream, it has become one of the greatest ways to praise a AAA video game: “it looks just like real life!” It’s a compliment that was offered for Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V in great supply, both for the game’s original release, and the updated remastering (complete with a new first-person mode) for next-gen consoles. Mainly, due to the fact that the developers managed to recreate Los Angeles, from its most iconic landmarks and suburbs to its loneliest back alleys.

Recreating a real world city into a video game proved a monumental and immensely-satisfying task, but what if the doppelganger act is put in the opposite direction? That’s a question tackled by the team at Corridor Digital, who set out to see the real Los Angeles through the eyes of the game. A serious challenge in itself, the results may have GTA fans wondering just how realistic the game is, after all.

Recapturing some of the same looks, locations, and features of the game in impressive detail, it’s safe to say that their work puts many other videos attempting a similar goal to shame. In the process, confirming that if real people behaved the way they do in Grand Theft Auto – or simply walked the way they do – the line between the real and the digital would become much, much clearer… not that that’s a bad thing.

The filmmakers also released a ‘Making Of’ video to show how the precise camera movements were captured practically, using a GoPro, an electronic gimbal, and one long pole. It’s an entertaining look behind the scenes, with some small details viewers might not have noticed (the sounds, for instance, were captured during actual play sessions). Take a look:

This Grand Theft Auto short film is impressive both technically and by capturing much of the ‘spirit’ of the game series, and its Los-Santos-based installment in particular. However, it again reveals why a Grand Theft Auto movie would miss much of what makes the game so well-known, and so appreciated by gamers. This filmmaking team succeeded by translating the actual language of the game into live-action, creating an uncanny overlap; but remove that and let the story or setting handle the task, and it would immediately become identical to any other crime story (many of which acted as inspiration for Rockstar in the first place).

So in the meantime, we’ll have to look forward to the (now legally-embroiled) tale of the men behind the game series, and simply enjoy short films like this one to scratch our live-action GTA itch. What do you think of the video? Are you impressed with how well the team recreated the look and action of the game? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Grand Theft Auto V is currently available on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and PC.

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