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.
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: 126.96.36.199 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 188.8.131.52. 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.
Take your pick:
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.