GTA 4 with realistic graphics mod: the better way? - Update: More shots and HD video
The ENB Series 0.077a enhances GTS 4 with features like anti-aliasing via downsampling, realistic lighting (SSAO) and improved shadows. PC Games Hardware shows how to use the mod and demonstrates the better graphics.
Original article: January 94, 2010:
Even in the original version Grand Theft Auto 4 delivers a good visual appearance if running at maximal details. The biggest drawback is that the game doesn't support anti-aliasing and especially shadows or alpha test textures are flickering extremely.
In fall 2009 the modder Boris Vorontsov already delivered a solution for supersampling anti-aliasing in GTA 4. In the meantime GTA 4 has been patched to version 126.96.36.199 and Boris also updated the ENB Series Mod. The current version 0.077a delivers supersampling via downsampling and Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) and smoothed shadows. Furthermore the mod adjusts the lighting (Bloom for example) and introduces more lively and more realistic colors.
GTA 4 ENB Series: How-To
In order to use the mod you need GTA 4 in version 188.8.131.52. You can download the ENB Series 0.077a from the official website. Unpack the files into the folder that contains the GTAIV.exe. Now open the enbseries.ini and set the entry ‘ForceAntialiasing' to ‘true'. After that enter 0 (zero), 1 or 2 at ‘AntialiasingQuality'. A zero stands for 3x3 SSAA and two for 2x2 SSAA (in our test a one also resulted in 2x2 SSAO). For explanation: The ENB Series Mod uses downsampling. So the game is calculated at a higher resolution which is sampled down to the resolution displayed by the monitor - thus the whole image is smoothed. The performance required for this is extreme of curse (more on that later).
Since the ENB Series Mod uses the native resolution of your display as default value it is recommended to reduce the resolution in advance. To do this, set ‘ForceDisplaySize' in the enbseries.ini to ‘true' and enter the horizontal and vertical resolution values at ‘DisplayWidth' respectively ‘DisplayHeight'. For our example we chose 1280 x 800 pixels which, due to downsampling, result in 3840 x 2400 pixels.
The command ‘EnableAmbientOcclusion' activates, obviously as it should be, Ambient Occlusion and by setting ‘SamplingQuality' to -1 you activate the best possible SSAO. ‘ApplyAntialiasing' and ‘FilterQuality' reduce the flickering of shadows.
GTA 4 ENB Series: Performance with and without downsampling
For our direct comparison we modded our GTA 4 via ‘Commandline.txt' and a VRAM multiplier of 2,048. Thus the streaming of GTA 4 allows the maximum detail level, which we want to use. Attention: At those settings GTA 4 needs a lot of hardware power even without downsampling. Ur test system is based on a core i5-750 running at 3.6 GHz with a Geforce GTX 285 and 8 GiByte DDR3 memory often dropped below 30 fps and with downsampling (independent of the level) the average varied around 15 frames per second. But with slightly reduced details and 2x2 SSAA more than 30 fps are possible - but you will need a fast quad-core and at least 4 GiByte RAM nevertheless. If downsampling is deactivated, the frame rate is increased by more than 50 percent.
GTA 4 ENB Series: Graphics comparison
Below we compare GTA 4 on maximal details with the version upgraded with the ENB Series Mod. Furthermore we show the full screen anti aliasing, the Ambient Occlusion and the shadows. In our gallery you can also find several screenshots from the game.
The download at the end of the page contains all relevant ENB Series files. In the included ‘enbseries.ini' we have already entered 1680 x 1050 with 2x2 SSAA and maximal shadow and SSAO quality. Attention: Use Winzip oder 7-Zip to unzip the archive.
Update: January 9, 2010
In our gallery you can now find more screenshots from the game and also we captured a HD video: