Handling Overhaul

Balancing the Police car in a powerslide

Tired of playing Vice with cars that handle like dodgems? Fed up with the instant steering and brakes which lock up your wheels? Want handling where your knowledge of weight shifting techniques can be put to use? Ever thought you could be a stunt driver?

Well, that’s just who this mod is for.


Final update was on 21st April 2005, after extensive testing in the Curveshire District.

Download Handling Overhaul 1.0
11.2kB WinRAR archive.


  1. Download the above file and save it somewhere safe.
  2. Extract the contents out of the RAR archive.
  3. Open your Grand Theft Auto Vice City\data\ folder and re-name handling.cfg to be old_handling.cfg or similar.
  4. Copy my handling.cfg file to Grand Theft Auto Vice City\data\ so that it takes over from the old handling.
  5. Open your Grand Theft Auto Vice City\data\ folder and re-name default.ide to be old_default.ide or similar.
  6. Copy my default.ide file to Grand Theft Auto Vice City\data\ so that it takes over from the old setup.
  7. Start a new or saved game of GTA Vice City and enjoy the custom handling!

I recommend that you use multiple installs of the game so that you can keep one install totally original, allowing you to undo any modifications you make to the other installs.


Skidding through a junction with the Banshee

As the consoles for which GTA Vice City was designed for have analogue control for the brakes, R* set the braking force so that it was easily able to lock the wheels. The player could then see how hard they could press the brake in order to prevent locking. However, on the PC most people use a keyboard, meaning they have to use 100% of the braking power and thus always lock up the brakes. This is called "locking up" since the wheels just stop, as if they have been locked into one position. I have changed the braking force so that vehicles will just avoid locking up their wheels when braking on perfectly dry tarmac.

An aggressive turn entry with the Admiral

When the roads are wet the brakes will lock up as you still have to use all the braking power you did on tarmac. This makes entering corners very difficult and you will find yourself overshooting them a lot to begin with. As you get more experienced you will find out how much earlier you have to brake for each vehicle with these new settings.

In normal driving conditions you will find that my handling style allows you to use the brakes to get a better entrance to each corner when used carefully with the steering. It does take many hours to get used to co-ordinating all these aspects but as you get better you will find you have more control over the line you take.


Competing for the hole-shot

During my research for this handling overhaul I conducted a detailed experiment into GTA 3 & GTA Vice City Acceleration so that I could set the acceleration to reflect real-world performance. Unfortunately the game engine has too much built-in drag for objects moving through the environment to allow vehicles to accelerate progressivly and still reach high top speeds. This has meant a trade-off between setting the acceleration unrealistically high, like R* did, or setting it more sensibly but making the top speed suffer.

Front-drive car struggling for grip

The different weights, grip settings and acceleration values that I use mean that there is a performance gap between the cars which can be seen from a standing start after just one second. In rainy weather you will find the different vehicles get off the line in very different manners, with four wheel drive vehicles like the Deluxo and Comet having a distinct advantage.

Due to my more refined approach to setting grip levels, front wheel drive vehicles will now really struggle to get their power down from standing starts. This was not captured in the original GTA Vice City and I feel that using my settings will allow you to have a more interesting driving experience because the different drive types react so differently now.


Custom vehicles sit more aggressively

Custom tuned vehicles are often set with a very low front ground clearence compared to the rear to give a more aggressive stance on the road. In this handling overhaul I have done the same so that vehicles like the Cuban Hermes and Gang Burrito are more obviously hot rods.

The suspension is the main aspect of a car used to alter the manner in which it handles. By increasing ride height and softening the springs a vehicle will be more able to cope with bumpy terrain. By stiffening the springs and using a lower ride hieght a vehicle will be much better suited to high performance on paved surfaces.

Lots of body roll from the Securicar

Another way I have improved the suspension is by setting the stiffness and travel of each vehicle to reflect more realisticly how such a vehicle would perform in reality. This means that low, sporty vehicles will have only a little body roll whilst tall-sided vans will lean over a great deal.


Who taught these people to drive?

The GTA series has always had "hollywood style handling" and it says as much on the packaging of the first edition. I do not find this style at all rewarding as there is rarely a need to so much as lift off the throttle for turning due to the insane amount of grip. Therefore my overhaul reduces the grip and gives it a more believable character.

Cars will now loose traction when turning but due to the new way I set up the grip values acceleration and braking change the slide. This now allows a knowledgeable driver to use the steering in tandem with the brakes and throttle to fine-tune the line a car is taking through each turn.

The game AI will find using my handling extremely difficult and will overshoot at every corner because they expect to have the super-grippy properties of the original handling. The lesser grip from my settings even catches me out a lot of the time - especially when I try to take screenshots of myself demonstrating it!


Probably the best wheelie setup ever

Unlike GTA 3, GTA Vice City has a great many special vehicles ranging from bangers to stock cars to desert rally cars. I have applied my idea of capturing a more real, involving feel to the game to these specialist vehicles.

As there are two bangers I decided that I could use one of them as an experiment and after much tinkering found that I could make it do wheelies! I have spent a great deal of time refining this particular ability for this car and now think it is the only one which allows both wheelies and normal driving. The Bloodring Banger with the flat tail is the one which I used for this really entertaining feature.

Throwing the Sandmaster around the beach

Vehicles which are designed specifically for off-road use, such as the Patriot and the Sandmaster (pictured here) are set with long suspension travel and a soft setup to allow them to cope with the bumps and jumps of the sand and mud areas. One setting (a flag called GOOD_INSAND to be precise) was not enabled on many off-road vehicles but I have enabled it because these vehicles would perform distinctly better on sand when compared to the standard vehicles.