Racing On Phat Ice: iCEnhancer 2.0 Released

By Richard Cobbett on February 13th, 2012 at 1:50 pm.

The only bad thing about the newly released ICEnhancer 2.0 for GTA IV is the sense of sadness that a setting as beautiful as its recreation of New York will never be used again. Imagine the stories these streets could still have to tell, if not for our constant thirst for new worlds to conquer. Sigh. Anyway. As much as GTA IV was a system killer at release, you’ll need a system-killer-killer system to run this as nature intended – but it’ll give you one of the most beautiful games on PC if you can. If not, at least you can enjoy the vicarious thrills of this video. A new version is out soon that tones down some of the extra shiny in favour of a slightly more realistic look.

(Ignore the occasional flickers. Apparently these are issues with GTA IV’s built-in recording tool.)

Still unimpressed? Check out the beauty of earlier versions at Dead End Thrills

, , .

60 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. diamondmx says:

    GTA4 PC wasn’t a system killer, it was just really really badly ported. The graphical quality in no way measured up to the system specs it required to run at even a passable level.

    Worst £5 I ever spent on steam.

    • kikito says:

      Sad, but all I can say is “Saints Row 2 was even worse”. On my old computer it went too slow to be playable, and on the new one … it was too fast! It was like watching Benny Hill. Completely unplayable.

      GTA performed very badly on the first, but on the second one it did just fine. So, there you go.

    • lordcooper says:

      Yay consoles!

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      The difference between high requirements and bad porting isn’t necessarily a big one. Either way, GTA ran like a dog on my PC at the time.

      Though I was lucky in that my copy of Saints Row 2 ran fine, aside from being a bit crashy.

    • Dominic White says:

      GTA4 wasn’t badly ported. It just needed a quad-core. Oh, sure, it technically *ran* on a dual-core, but so does Saints Row 3. It’s just that both of those games become barely-playable crawls after a while.

      A lot of game engines now really do need at *least* three cores to work properly. They’ll choke on two.

    • aldo_14 says:

      A decent quad core. Like, not the i7 quad core on my laptop, for example. Which I upgraded to on the hope of an improvement from my old desktop dual core.

      *sigh*

    • Vorrin says:

      I’m one of the unfortunate in the ‘still runs as a dog, even with a quad-core and a radeon 6850′ category :/

      Have to admit though, I got no love for Saints’ Row 2 , but that runs way smoother.

      So, I’m definitely leaning on ‘really badly ported’ on this one…

    • woodsey says:

      “GTA4 wasn’t badly ported. It just needed a quad-core.”

      Plenty of people who exceeded the specs at the time couldn’t run it. GTA IV was a terrible port.

    • Sweedums says:

      I must be lucky then because GTA4 runs like a dream on my 3yr old machine with an AMD quad core. While Saints row 2 ran absolutely terribly.

      Saints row 3 runs fine too tho, so its all goooood.

    • trjp says:

      The Gentlemen of the Row pack solves all the issues with SR2 (and adds a tonne of new content) – just FYI

    • Aemony says:

      GTA4 on release was a horrible mess regardless of specs, though it was a lot more buggy on certain setups than others (i.e. specific graphic cards and such). It took a lot of driver optimizations and game patches to get it to run fluidly on most systems within or above recommended specs.

      And no, it weren’t a matter of dual core vs. quad core as it ran quite horrible on quad cores such as q6600 and q9300 on release as well.

    • cafe says:

      This is all bullshit, there are tons of games that look better than GTA 4 and they run fine on a dual core! GTA 4 was a lazy, bad pc port to make people buy a ps3 because they were desperate to play that game. You know it’s true!

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      @aldo_14

      Did you get an Asus notebook? Like one of the G53/73/etc lines? If you did, check this out.

      http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus-gaming-notebook-forum/576468-g73-53sw-owners-cpu-throttling-798mhz-how-fix.html

    • povu says:

      Don’t forget the required GFWL + Rockstar Social Club programs, and the way the game would automatically restrict the graphics settings you could set based on what the game thought your PC was worth. Installing and setting up GTA 4 is one of the most tedious things ever.

      Thank god they patched out the need to start up RSS later, but that still leaves GFWL. I really hope GTA 5 won’t have it.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Well, I have a lowly Q8300 quad core which runs at 2.5ghz and is no where near an i5 let alone an i7, it runs GTA4 fine, only ever reaching about a 60% load. I also have a 6870 and that doesn’t have to try much either.

      The game isn’t running smoothly, but far far, faaar better than on consoles. GTA 4 on Xbox was jerky and crashy for me. I don’t think it’s a badly made port, but a badly made game technically.

      But I absolutely love the game, especially the add ons.

    • MadMatty says:

      both GTA IV and Saints Row 2 were indeed awful ports. Framerate was awful even on a decent kit dual core, which the PS3 does not have even.

  2. Anarki says:

    Excited to try this out. There’s a clever mini game you need to complete first before trying it though, called “Find the bloody link on the website” which took me about 5 minutes.

  3. UncleLou says:

    Insane. I’ve toyed around with the older versions, but it keeps getting more imrpessive.

    As for GTA IV, I’ve found it playable at my at the time aging Core-2-Duo (with a better framerate than the console versions), and it runs like a dream these days on multicore PCs. And the (overall) graphical quality impresses me to this day, in particular the Euphoria/RAGE stuff. Which are also the reason why it never ran all that well on older PCs I assume, it just needs CPU power – so I am not sure it really was a bad port. The alternative probably would have been “no port at all”.

    Some of the best 50 EUR I’ve spent on Steam.

    • UnravThreads says:

      Q8300, 4GB RAM, GTS 450 1GB, Win 7

      Runs like a car driving at a modest speed down a cobbled road. Boing boing boing crunch scrape boing boing boing.

      It’s so up and down regardless of what settings I use.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I have the same system but with a 6870 not a 450. Runs fine. I say fine, I mean it never drops below 30fps. Which is the max frame rate the consoles ever reach.

    • Prime says:

      “…so I am not sure it really was a bad port.”

      Classic logical error: “I have no problem/I find this acceptable, therefore there is no problem.”

      Universe doesn’t revolve around you alone, dude.

    • sinister agent says:

      Well, obviously. It revolves around me, sillies.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Funny, my computer can barely run the damn thing (at least last I tried bothering with it). Runs fine if I don’t move the camera, but as soon as I swing about the entire game freezes as it tries to load assets it discarded way too bloody early.

      Look, I know optimization is good, but if it means you’re gonna unload the building behind me just because I’m not looking at it, you might need to take a few steps back…

      EDIT: And trying it again, the issue’s still not resolved. Plus, this is the first game I’ve encountered which doesn’t support symbolic links properly. What a mess.

    • UncleLou says:

      “Classic logical error: “I have no problem/I find this acceptable, therefore there is no problem.”

      Universe doesn’t revolve around you alone, dude. ”

      Not only did you misunderstand my original point, you also made the same classical logical error you thought I made. Congratulations.

    • Prime says:

      I might have misunderstood the intent of your original post. Tentative, pencilled-in apologies there. But making the same error myself? What? I’m baffled on that one.

  4. roryok says:

    If modern PCs can churn out stuff that looks this good, how come Pixar spend so much money on render farms? Seems like a cleverly coded machinima engine and a couple of Crossfire cards could do the same job

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      Because real-time ray-tracing at the fidelity of Pixar productions isn’t possible presently. Also whilst graphics could conceivably be simulated, the Unreal Engine 4 ‘Samaritan’ demo looks superior to much 90’s CGI for instance, what about physics? Pixar apparently has one of the top five people in the entire world in the field of fluid simulation and dynamics and unless you have a dedicated supercomputer, that also isn’t happening in real-time.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      It’s OK, I think they know what they’re doing.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Cinema “screens” tend to be a lot larger than your normal “home theatre”

    • ThTa says:

      While trickery like shadow maps, normal maps, tesselation and shaders are nice, the things Tyrone mentioned (Raytracing and all manner of granular/liquid physics) along with proper, ultra high-poly models and highly advanced animation still exceed them by far in terms of looks and versatility. Yes, it should be possible to create something similar, but it’d end up taking far more time, due to the artists having to actually create and implement those tricks. Compare it to making a movie of a rotating Earth by either recording a 3D model or drawing it frame by frame.

    • Cooper says:

      Raytracing involves follwing millions of points of light, and allows for ambient occlusion.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambient_occlusion

      Light bouncess off of all surfaces, and accounting for this in rendering is best done in raytracing. This is, bar polygon count, probably the biggest difference between raytraced animation and current real time graphics. Simulating the very subtle gradations of light you get from occlusion can make a massive difference to the perception of a scene.

      The STALKER engine (at least the first game) has an ambient occlusion option in the debug graphics options.
      Go fire the game up and set that to on. And then weep in empathy with your GPU.

    • Salt says:

      Quite a lot of games these days (since the first Crysis introduced a neat-o way to do it in screenspace) can do ambient occlusion with varying degrees of fakeness.

      Ambient occlusion is basically a subset of the indirect lighting problem. Indirect Lighting (a.k.a. Global Illumination) is when you put a red block next to a white wall, and if there’s light shining on the block then there’ll be a red area appearing on the wall too. But it’s not at all limited to local effects: When you have a room lit up only by the sun, but direct sunlight is only reaching a tiny part of the room – or none at all and it’s getting lit by light bouncing off walls outside, or scattered by the atmosphere – that’s all indirect lighting.

      When games do ambient occlusion systems in use tend to ignore all that complex stuff and just shade an area depending on how “open” it is. So the tiny gap between two floor tiles is darkened, but the flat surface of the tile is left light. Use in conjunction with the usual lighting and shadowing stuff, and it helps give a sense of depth to images.

      Mirror’s Edge’s environments looking strangely real owe a great deal to indirect lighting, which is especially noticeable with the blocks of saturated colour and white walls used in the level design (I think Mirror’s Edge was one of the first games to use the effect, so I wonder if the aesthetic was chosen to best show off the technology?) The only indirect lighting we see in games is baked into the level textures, meaning it’s calculated when they make the level. So we don’t get to see any realtime indirect lighting effects.

      There has been realtime indirect lighting in simple scenes in the demoscene for quite a few years, and fairly recently there’s been work with a voxel-based solution for realtime indirect lighting in more complex scenes.

      So! Um. We were talking about Pixar or something?

    • DrGonzo says:

      There probably is a good argument as to whether it is worth Pixar bothering with a lot of the effects they do. It doesn’t make the film better, but almost unnoticably prettier.

    • Premium User Badge

      PoulWrist says:

      Check out AMD’s Leo tech demo, or a video of it. It’s in the early 00’s quality level of animated cartooniness. But apart from that, then there’s a ton of reasons, as this video wasn’t too impressive, the cars look way better in other games, the backgrounds were static and flat, and the shots of it went for the awe-factor with vistas that you shouldn’t look too closely at.

      Cars are seen better in dedicated racing games too.

      Animation that you spend renderfarms on is far more complex and not made up of fakeness. If we didn’t care about constantly looking better, we wouldn’t be where we are now graphically.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      @Cooper what you’re describing (light spill from other surfaces) is radiosity, not ray-tracing. Ray-tracing accurately simulates beams of lights from a source, and is used for accurate hard shadows, reflections, and refraction.

      Pixar rarely use ray-tracing. They typically use an extremely high degree of tesselation (unless that has changed in the past few years).

      If you want to know why their output quality is so high, see here: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/05/process_pixar/all/1

      Also worth pointing out (don’t think this was mentioned in the article), they render multiple passes per frame which are composited together separately.

  5. Talorc says:

    “less dangerous DLL included for those afraid of overheating”

    Does this not get anyone slightly a wee smidge concerned?

    • Saldek says:

      Apparently, version 0.082 of ENB series for GTA IV caused overheating for some GPUs. Cards were reported to have fried. The current re-release of v 0.082 carries the warning: “Be careful, watch for gpu temperature while using this!”. So, a smidgen of concern may be warranted.

      On the other hand, it does add a sense of adventure.

  6. aldo_14 says:

    What sort of a system do you need to run it, anyway?

  7. Ridnarhtim says:

    Does it work with the Steam version? It took me DAYS to get the previous version to run with my Steam copy of GTAIV. (No performance issues though, yay)

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I would also like to know this. I could never get the previous version to work.

      EDIT: “Compatible for every patch, but 1030 to 1004 are recommended”
      So I guess that’s a yes.

  8. jaronimoe says:

    Can someone clarify this for me:

    The footage shown above did not just use iceenhancer but also updated textures and models, right?
    because I sure cant remember the textures looking this clean in GTA IV.

  9. Anarki says:

    Does anyone have a mirror for this? Every time I try that stupid depositfiles website it tells me I’ve reached my limit or something. (never used it before in my life).

    EDIT: 30 comments on this but no one has downloaded it, because the link is dead. Grr.

  10. Risingson says:

    I tried to google this… so I better ask you: how this mod relates to the “real” new york city? I suppose that not everything is in there…

    • Sheng-ji says:

      It doesn’t… It’s NYC themed, and if you aren’t familiar with the city it’s an amazing copy, all the major landmarks are where you’d expect them, however if you know the real city well then it’s basically a different city, with NY’s landmarks!

    • ulix says:

      Liberty city really just is a city heavily inspired by NYC, not copied after it. You know instantly that its supposed to be NYC, all the boroughs look like they should look, and the landmarks are also there.

      Of course it’s a lot smaller.

      Still: it’s the best, most convincing virtual rendition of a city ever built. Noone can argue with that.
      At least until Los Santos comes along again (that’s what I hope, anyway).

  11. Risingson says:

    I thought so, but reading the comments made this mod look like the most ambitious thing ever. Thanks!

  12. ulix says:

    What really annoys me about this (at least in the video, is it automatically in included in the mod?) are the real world car brands and advertisements (Coca Cola etc.).

    This isn’t NYC, it’s LC! And all those ads add a big load of charm to the GTA experience.

    • Deston says:

      I couldn’t agree more with this, I’ve never understood the desire of modders to replace any of GTA’s excellent twists and spoofs on real world brands and marketing (amongst other things) with their real world equivalents… The humour they put in there has always been one of the big things that appealed to me about the series. It’d be like replacing Krusty Burger with McDonalds in The Simpsons!

  13. noom says:

    Man, haven’t listened to Boards of Canada in ages. Time to go dust off my… uhh… mp3 folders.

  14. Stevostin says:

    I am not even sure it looks better than Vanilla. Sure it’s crispyer, but Vanilla looked great enough if not smooth, apart from the awful shadows. The lightning was set up right. It’s not anymore in most scene of the video above. I remember of earlier version way more convincing, thus.

    http://www.thegtaplace.com/images/gta4/screenshots/pc/gta-iv-pc-screenshot_050.jpg

    I prefere the general feeling of that tone above the bland cartoonish from the video.

  15. Tuskin38 says:

    Tobad this only look great on an older version of the game, on the latest GTA4 patch or EFLC patch it doesn’t look as good.

    • sinister agent says:

      I think the reason is that the later versions of the game rendered the majority of mods broken. I had such a tedious and annoying time trying to mod GTA4 into something I could make do-able for my site that I still haven’t garnered the patience to tidy up and post the notes I made about how to do it. It’s dependent on several third party files that have several versions that apply to several patch versions of the game, and the whole lot are all piled up in a very wobbly stack of cards.

  16. Angel Dust says:

    Does it still bloom out the cutscenes something crazy?

  17. Aradalf says:

    Wow, just wow. This is amazingly good.

  18. WJonathan says:

    Sadly, none of this can make the game fun to play. if you want to spend time as an amateur 3-d modeller, go right ahead. It’s a fine hobby. But it in no way will make a videogame any more enjoyable.