The best GTA 4 mods

Tom Senior


Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of GTA 4 modding. For years fans and modding enthusiasts have been messing with the guts of Rockstar's big budget blockbuster. If you want to make it prettier, a wealth of visual mods, shader tweaks and texture packs bring it bang up to date. If you want to expand the game, there are mods that can let you pursue a career as an assassin, or a cop, or as a leader in a gang war.

If you want to get weirder still, turn off the friction, play the entire game as an FPS, become Superman, or Agent 47, or Christiano Ronaldo. If there's one thing I've discovered about GTA mods, it's that Rockstar's knack for social commentary and bawdy, slapstick comedy is only enhanced when you replace Nico with The Incredible Hulk. Read on for our round up of the best GTA 4 mods in the world.

The basics

GTA 4 ran like a slug with hiccups when it first landed on PC. In spite of the poor optimisation and the bloated Steam/Rockstar Social Club/Games for Windows Live wrapping, it's surprisingly easy to mod. Some of the instructions below might seem complicated, but installing a mod tends to be a matter of dragging and dropping new files into your GTA 4 directory. There is a bit of housekeeping to consider first, though.

Choose your patch: is the latest patch for GTA 4. That's the one that Steam will automatically update to. Unfortunately, it breaks a lot of mods designed to run on version Active mod teams will have updated their mods to run on the latest version, but if you want to dig into the archives you'll need to roll back. The process is a bit of a pain if you're playing the Steam version, but there's a good set of instructions on the GTA Gaming forums .

SparkIV, Scripthook, xliveless If you have a mod that adds new character/car models and animations, you can import the new files into your GTA 4 file structure using SparkIV . To install new models, use the SparkIV browser to locate the folder that needs changing, then open it up and use the "Import" function to add the modded files. Double check each mod's Readme for details where to drop the files. We've also had success with Alexander Blade's ASI loader if Spark bugs out for you.

Some mods will require you to use xliveless . This removes GTA 4's reliance on Games for Windows Live (hooray!), which is essential if you want to import custom saved games. Needless to say, installing xliveless will stop you from playing online, but with GTA 4 that's no big deal. Some mods will rely on having aru's Scripthook in your GTA 4 directory. Always check the ReadMe of the mod you're installing for a run down of unique installation instructions.

Back up everything: I've had GTA 4 running with dozens of mods working together without it exploding too much. Okay, it exploded a little. At one point Nico tumbled upwards into the sky and started spawning flying taxis two kilometers above Liberty City. It's always a good idea to back up your original files and keep your savegames safe just in case.

LET'S MOD. I'll start with visual tweaks and mods designed to make Liberty City a more believable place. The further down the list we go, the stranger the mods get. If you want to know how to jump around New York as the Incredible Hulk, skip down a few steps.

ENB Series

Take your pick:

Iceglace ( version here )

Mild ENB

l3EVO GP BEST (8-7)

The IceGlace ENB mods have been grabbing headlines for the last couple of years, and rightly so. ENB's advanced shaders and lighting tweaks transform GTA 4's outdated visuals into something palatable, or even exceptional if you have a few texture packs installed. They're not for everyone, though. The vivid colouration, high contrast and super-bright midday effects can be a bit much. Luckily, there are plenty of variants to choose from.

Mild ENB introduces more subtle variants on IceGlace ENB's custom shaders, and works with all patches. My personal favourite is the L3EVO GP BEST(8-7) patch used to produce these Dead End Thrills shots. I lost some of the detailed vehicle reflectivity of the IceGlace series, but the gorgeous lensflare effects and the sensible colour balance throughout the day/night cycle more than made up for it. It's a matter of taste, so it's worth trying a few before settling on a favourite.

On to the next page for more visual tweaks, realism mods, FPS modes and bigger splodes.

Other visual tweaks, better trees, texture packs and cars

For a more consistent and believable day/night cycle, as well as some non-ENB shader tweaks, consider installing the RealityIV 1.62 Timecycle Mod . Once you have ENB and RealityIV working in tandem, complete the package with some high resolution textures courtesy of the Better City Textures pack . The crisp lighting and shaders pick out the extra detail in those road surfaces perfectly, and is certainly worth a performance hit if you've got a powerful set-up.

There are a few nice but minor updates to be made once you've got the major graphical mods in place. TreesModIV overworks GTA's tree textures. Add this bus to improves the authenticity of those Big Apple traffic jams. The Viva New York mod below takes care of taxis, subways and Time Square. For custom cars, browse GTA 4 mods extensive list. There are some gems in there. I like the Formula One Ferrari and this VTOL jet but it's all a matter of taste. Whatever cars you add, spawn them at will using Blade's Vehicle Selector .

NB: There's a very common bug that might pop up as you're installing vehicle which turns all of the cars in Liberty City into taxis. Fix that with Chikamru's Real Traffic tweak .

Viva New York

Get it here.

Oh, Liberty City, we all know you're New York. The comedy billboards Rockstar used to dodge legal trouble were amusing for a while, but after ten or so hours of adventuring the jokes grow old. Viva New York patches up Liberty City's subways and taxis to make them look like their Big Apple counterparts and transforms Times Square with accurate billboards and scrolling neon ads. It's all there, glowing signs for Coke, Pepsi, the NASDAQ building and never-ending runs of The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera.

This mod requires some fiddling with Spark IV , but there are good instructions included in an accompanying PDF in the Viva New York download zip.

More realism mods: fuel, cautious drivers and first person mods

Now we've got a beautiful, detailed facsimile of New York to explore. If you want more realism from the city there mods out there happy to oblige. There are a few first person mods about, which do exactly as you'd expect. If you run your car into something at high speed, the hit might pop you out of Nico's head for a split second, but otherwise they're well implemented, and do a great job of bringing you down into the streets.

Does it bother you that Liberty City citizens drive around with their cars unlocked waiting for you to steal them? Cautious drivers will fix that behavioural quirk. Does it bother you that cars have infinite fuel and never need a refill? Grab the fuel mod . Real shop fronts spices up commercial districts with some authentic store retextures and this bank account mod lets you use ATM machines to deposit and withdraw money and earn interest.

Better explosions

Get it here.

This is a good 'un. If you're hungering for a little extra kersplode from your destructive sprees in GTA then the Bigger and More Realistic Explosion Mod is what you need. I wouldn't say the resulting fireballs were more realistic exactly, but they are certainly more satisfying by a factor of several Die Hards. Installation is a simple drag 'n drop task. Head to your GTA folder, go into Common -> Data -> Effects and then replace the explosionFx file with the modded version. You might want to back the old file in case the new one SUPER EXPLODES.

Hit the final page to see how to cheat, change the laws of physics, become a cop or Hulk-out.

Be a Cop

Get it here.

Arrest old ladies who have done absolutely nothing wrong using the excellent LCPD mod. It lets you play as a cop in Liberty City. You can sign up for duty at a nearby police station, grab a partner, requisition a police vehicle of your choice and then walk the beat. Incoming calls alert you to serious crimes occurring across the city. You can charge to the scene and arrest the culprit (train on your gun on them, press E to arrest them, cuff them, then call for backup to take them away), alternatively, you can ignore that and hassle everyday citizens. You can stop them, frisk them, arrest them and then taser them at will.

This one works best with patch 1.0.7, but installation's as easy as double clicking the program and letting it do its thing. Once installed, the mod won't intrude unless you want it to. Press ALT-P in-game to start it up, and press again to disable it. A thoughtful touch.

Simple trainer

Get it here.

Turn Liberty City into a playground with the Simple Trainer, a user-friendly program that will let you bind cheats to keyboard shortcuts. Default settings will let you choose the time of day with alt-1 through alt-4. Alt-. will spawn a sweet ride, Alt-7 will give you a full set of weapons and the + key will activate god mode. You can bind other cheats to your keyboard by altering the .ini file. Once you're set up, you'll be able to teleport around the map and spawn objects and vehicles at will. It works with all versions of GTA 4, too.

Recruit bodyguards, become a hitman, start a gang war

Recruit passers by, give them guns and roll through the streets as one almighty posse using the Bodyguard recruiter mod . Once installed, press F3 to command a pedestrian to join your cause. It'll cost a bit of money, but once they're in your employ they'll follow you until you fire them (with F7). Their AI exceeds follower AI in a lot of big budget releases (*cough* Skyrim *cough*) in that they'll seek out vehicles and follow you and follow you if you drive off on your own.

There are a few other noteworthy script mods that give you more to do in Liberty City. The Assassination Mod lets you contact a mysterious contractor using public payphones. These voiced conversations will send you after citizens spread throughout the city. Sometimes they'll be riding around in a vehicle, and they may even employ bodyguards to keep you on your toes.

For more shady dealings, try Turf Wars . It adds new gangs that are taking control of corners across Liberty City and lets you challenge them for control. You can call up your gang and hit corners together to take the city for yourself.

Turn off all friction

Bring total chaos to Liberty City with this simple tweak. It turns turns GTA's roads into frictionless sheets of grey death. Head into your GTA folder, go into common, then data, back up handling.dat then open it up and change the wbias column for each car to a negative value. Voila, instant comedy. Drag your backed up handling.dat file back into common/data to restore normality.

Play as The Hulk, Batman, Max Payne, Agent 47 and more

Get it here.

Ac.Amir is responsible for some of the best alternative character models you can find for GTA 4. Characters like The Incredible Hulk above aren't just reskins of Nico's model, they have their own gait thanks to custom animation files. A bunch of characters are available in the pack linked to above including Hulk, Batman, a Spartan from Halo, Rorschach from Watchmen, Lee from The Walking Dead, Snoop Dog and others. Ac.Amir's blog features a greater selection of separate downloads for Max Payne, Agent 47, Battlefield 3 soldiers and even Christiano Ronaldo (complete with scary staring eyes ).

To install the models, use Spark IV to browse your GTA file directory. Import the new animation files into GTAIV -> PC -> Anim -> anim.img and import the new model files into GTAIV -> PC -> models -> cdimages -> playerped.rpf.

The first time I roamed Liberty City as the Hulk I got hit by a car, punched by the driver, and then arrested by a chubby bald policeman. Embarrassing. For a more authentic Hulk experience, use the Simple Trainer highlighted above to activate god mode and consider employing something like the Mega Super Jump script .

Be Superman

As with the Hulk in the example above, you can combine a series of mods to turn Nico into the Man of Steel. The Superman mod will let take off and blast through the air, and this chin-tastic Superman model will provide the visual transformation you need. You can find full installation instructions in our previous post about becoming Superman in GTA 4 .

And that's all for now. Share your favourite GTA 4 mods in the comments. Do you have any stupendously beautiful screenshots of a modded-up GTA 4? Share them on in the screenshots thread on our forums.

About the Author
Tom Senior

Tom stopped being a productive human being when he realised that the beige box under his desk could play Alpha Centauri. After Deus Ex and Diablo 2 he realised he was cursed to play amazing PC games forever. He started writing about them for PC Gamer about six years ago, and is now UK web ed.

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