Stage 1: Preparation
1) Before beginning the beautification process, a fresh re-install of Grand Theft Auto IV is required. Most of you are likely running version 18.104.22.168 of the game -- the latest version -- but the modifications in this guide will only work with version 22.214.171.124. If you're running 1.0.70, you'll need to uninstall your game, delete any folders left behind, and reinstall it from scratch.
If you splurged on the game during the recent Steam sales (*raises hand*), you're likely regretting your purchase, as Steam always installs the latest version of the game. Re-installing the game won't stop this, but there's a simple process involved to revert back to the version required, which we cover in step 4.
2) First things first; it's a wise idea to backup the GTAIV folder, which ensures we don't need to re-install or re-download the game if anything goes wrong. Trust me, downloading the game four times over the course of a day is less fun than getting run over by a speeding taxi in Liberty City.
This is a simple process of copying the entire GTAIV folder. An easy way to find out where this folder is located is to right-click the game icon on your desktop, select Properties, and then look at the Shortcut tab -- the folder location will be in the "Shortcut Field". Copy the entire game folder used, and paste it somewhere safe, such as the desktop. If you're running the Steam version, it'll be in the same folder Steam is located, buried within the Steam\steamapps\common\grand theft auto iv folder.
3) Now it's time to start the patchification process. For those of you who picked up the game via Direct2Drive, Gamersgate, or are still living in the good old days and own the game on disk, this is a simple process of downloading and installing Patch 126.96.36.199
, and following the installation prompts through to completion.
You can now skip down to section 6), and continue on with the guide.
4) The Steam version of this process involves a few extra steps, but you won't need to uninstall it as you do the non-Steam version. First, open Steam, right click on Grand Theft Auto IV in your games library, and choose Properties. Select the Updates tab and from within the drop-down box choose "Do not automatically update this game". This will ensure Steam doesn't overwrite our changes.
Once that is done, download and install Patch 188.8.131.52.
5) Now we need the Rockstar Social Group Tool (RSGT)
, a small download which contains some extra files that aren't included with the 184.108.40.206 patch. Before installing the RSGT, navigate to the Grand Theft Auto IV folder (as you did in Step 2), and rename the GTAIV folder to something different. For this example, I'll refer to it as "renamed," as a showcase of my limitless imagination.
After the RSGT is installed, it will have created a new GTAIV folder alongside the old one you just renamed. Open up this new folder, and copy all of the files inside of it into the "renamed" folder, choosing to overwrite files when asked. Once the files have been copied, delete the now empty new GTAIV folder, and change the old "renamed" folder back to GTAIV.
6) That's the hard part out of the way, and the end is nearly in sight! Because Rockstar think they know more about your PC than you do, some of the graphic options are locked out to you if the game deems your system incapable of handling them. We're going to show them who's the boss and unlock them.
Look for the LaunchGTAIV.exe file in your GTAIV folder, and create a shortcut to it on your desktop. Next, right click on the shortcut and select Options, and locate the field titled Target. Place the cursor at the end of the line of text already in this field, and add the text "-norestrictions" without the quotation marks. This shortcut is what you'll be using to launch the game from hereafter.
Stage 2: iCEnhancer
Now to the fun stuff, installing a mod that will make the game look like it's been rendered in the WETA studio. The iCEnhancer mod is actually a variant of the ENB series, a cool little collection of files and settings that apply post-processing effects over the top of a game, such as enhanced reflections and better lighting. It's basically like altering an image in Photoshop after it has been taken.
First, download the iCEnhancer mod
, and unzip the file to the desktop. From here, open the now unzipped "iCEnhancer 1.25" folder, and copy all of the files from within the "Normal version for 1040 patch" folder. Paste them into your GTAIV folder, and choose "Yes" whenever a dialogue box asks you to overwrite a file.
The iCEnhancer mod includes a file called filelist.pak, and during the copying process it unhelpfully moves it to the wrong place. Nice quality control there guys. Navigate to the GTAIV folder, and from there into the "common" and then "data" folder respectively. Copy the filelist.pak file, and from there, head back out to the main GTAIV folder again. Open the "pc" and then "data" folder, and paste the file here.
Next, as the game is a Games for Windows Live title, some of the files that iCEnhancer needs to access are protected. Included in the previously unzipped iCEnhancer folder is a folder entitled "If it doesn't work," which contains two files that make up Xliveless -- xlive.dll and xlive_d.dll. Xliveless removes the protections, and while it disables both multiplayer and achievements, the pay-off is well worth it.
Simply copy both xlive.dll and xlive_d.dll files into your GTAIV folder.
Finally, Xliveless has a nasty habit of removing the fonts from the menus in-game. Unless you enjoy honing your psychic abilities by navigating through invisible menus, we need to fix this. Download fonts.zip from here
, and once unzipped, copy both "fonts" and "fonts_r" into the "data" folder (contained in GTAIV\common) and select "Yes" when asked to overwrite files.
We'll be returning shortly to alter some settings, but that's the iCEnhancer installation complete. You are now free to stare in wonderment at how much better GTA IV already looks!
Stage 3: Textures
Now we'll be adding what any good PC game modding session needs -- a texture pack. Several of these exist for GTAIV, but we think the best of these is the aptly named Better City Textures.
Download Better City Textures from here
, and unzip the file to the desktop. Inside the now unzipped Better City Textures is a folder called PC -- which is buried four folders deep. Once you've found it, copy the PC folder, and paste it into the GTAIV folder, again saying "Yes" to any questions of overwriting files.
And that's the texture pack installed.
Stage 4: Final Tweaks
Now comes the time for some final adjustments and customization before we're free to roam the newly renovated Liberty City.
All of these changes take place in the iceconfig file, which can be found in the GTAIV folder. It's a simple text file, and contains a list of options which control exactly what effects are applied while iCEnhancer is running. There's a lot of room for customization. The range of options is far too large to list here, but we'll be taking a look at a couple of stand-out alterations you can make, offering the most noticeable graphical change.
To make these alterations, open iceconfig with Notepad by right clicking on it, and choosing Open With Notepad. To find the sections that are mentioned here, select Edit and then Find from Notebook's top menu, or simply hit CTRL+F on your keyboard.
The first options we're looking for can be found under the [SSAO_SSIL] heading. These settings are at high-detail by default, and give the game a very grainy overlay. Some of you may enjoy this, but if you'd like a smoother image, simply change:
This change isn't evident in screenshots, but will remove much of the grain filter, and even improve performance. Handy.
Finally, this last change can have a drastic effect on the lighting in-game. Under the [Environment] heading, you'll find a field titled "ColorPow". The default value is 1, and can be changed to either 2 or 3, depending on how bright you want the lighting to be.
And that's it! You've successfully transformed a three year old game into a thing of beauty! And remember, as long as you keep a copy of the iceconfig file, you're free to experiment to your heart's content!