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Creating a Keyboard Layout (PC)


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Creating a Keyboard Layout (PC): Defining Your Best Keys for Combat


One of the questions that I often get asked when editing articles for publication in games magazines is what control options do you recommend for such-and-such a game, and this is always a tricky one to reply too because everyone by definition is different and as such has their own strengths and weaknesses which are best reflected in what keyboard/mouse and joystick options they select when setting up a game for the first time. You will find that once a person has established an interface pattern which suits them, and which can easily be remembered, not to mention makes responding to situations which may arise in any specific game, they tend to use a similar layout in any other games that they may play if the option for keyboard customization is available. Some games need a few controls, others, like Grand Theft Auto for example, need a lot more. When I first got handed a copy of GTA-IV it became necessary for me to re-define the keyboard and keypad as I am neither a joystick or mouse player and this led to me creating a primitive paper image of my keyboard with each and every key laid out on it, and which clearly displayed what specific keys did when selected. This assisted me in remembering what did what until such time that I had committed the sequences to memory - and I recommend that you try that too if you are having to keep looking up your key definitions. Of course, when you have memorized it, you can throw the paper away. Those of you with better memories need not bother with it at all.


GTA-IV allows the user the option of re-defining the keyboard and many other options so they best suit a users needs and experience. To change the keyboard input you simply go to the pause Menu and select CONTROLS --> KEYBOARD/MOUSE OPTIONS --> CUSTOM MAPPING and get cracking. The instructions for changing the controls are shown there. Please note that any 'clashes' will cause the program to issue a warning, as will any unbound keys (keys left blank) so be sure to check everything before selecting the accept option and returning to the game. Thankfully, GTA-IV is a very user-friendly application so you can pause at any time in the game and re-define the keyboard as you please without any issue arising. Those of you who are curious can save the file called ControlMap.dat to another directory if you wish to retain your controls in the event of having to re-install or repair the game as this file contains the key definitions. In my case, I reconfigured my keyboard to best reflect my personal choices, and for the purposes of education include my personal choices below (as displayed within the menu). Please note these are NOT the default choices and that I have omitted the second paragraph of alternative keyboard binding options which are normally marked 'none' and in some instances have changed this column to show my own choices (sometimes to fix 'clashes' or glitches or to make life simpler): I use the mouse in 'free look' - that is I aim my gun with it and use it to choose a direction to move in except when in a vehicle, in which instance I use the cursor keys - under The Ballard of Gay Tony, since it requires some creative work with the keyboard, falling and using a parachute has proven to be challenging.


--- General -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Take Phone Out: Numpad 0

Phone Accept: Numpad / (also yes on questions)

Phone Cancel Numpad * (also no on questions)

Phone Up: Numpad -

Phone Down: Numpad +

Phone Left: ,

Phone Right: .

Radar Zoom: K

Look Behind: C

Change Camera: ' or @

Definition Toggle: ;

Text Chat Team: S

Text Chat All: D


--- On Foot -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Action: Right Shift

Move Left: Left [cursor] or Left (cursor)

Move Right: Right [cursor] or Right (cursor)

Move Forward: Left Mouse Button (LMB) or Up (cursor)

Move Backwards: Right Mouse Button (RMB) or Down (cursor)

Sprint: Left Shift

Jump: A or A

Crouch: Z

Attack: Left Ctrl

Free Aim/Melee Lock On: Left Alt

Next Weapon: Wheel Up

Previous Weapon: Wheel Down

Sniper Zoom In: Pgup

Sniper Zoom Out: Pgdn

Enter/Exit Vehicle: Space

Enter/Exit Cover: X

Reload: R

Detonate: B


--- In Vehicle ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Steer Left: Left (cursor)

Steer Right: Right (cursor)

Lean Forward: ]

Lean Back: [

Accelerate: Up (cursor)

Brake: Down (cursor)

Handbrake: J

Shoot: Left Ctrl Left Ctrl

Next Weapon: Wheel Up

Previous Weapon: Wheel Down

Drop Weapon (race): R

Horn: H

Headlight: L

Look Behind: C

Cinematic Camera: \ or |

Hotwire 1: N

Hotwire 2: M

Next Radio Station: O

Previous Radio Station: P

Turn Off Radio: X

Previous Song: B

Next Song: V


--- Helicopter ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Shoot: Left Ctrl

Shoot secondary: Left Alt

Throttle Up: U

Throttle Down: I

Pitch Forward: Numpad 8 or Up (cursor)

Pitch Back: Numpad 2 or Down (cursor)

Bank Left: Numpad 4 or Left (cursor)

Bank Right: Numpad 6 or Right (cursor)

Rotate Left: Numpad 1

Rotate Right: Numpad 3


--- Combat -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Punch 1: Q

Punch 2: W

Kick (while locked on): E

Block (while locked on): R


--- Weapons ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Unarmed 0

Melee 1

Handgun 2

Shotgun 3

Submachine Gun 4

Automatic Rifle 5

Sniper Rifle 6

Heavy Weapon 7

Grenade/Molotov 8

Special 9


For me at least this places the movement, weapons and defense keys low down on the keyboard and allows for very quick response to potential threat-force encounters. The helicopter control options are simple and grouped allowing for minute maneuvering and quick response - and note I have duplicated the keypad onto the cursors which in my case get used more often than their keypad counterparts. In hand to hand fighting, the QWER keys in concert with the Left Alt key have defending yourself simple and foolproof - and best of all, no having to stretch the fingers to take in awkward key selections. Driving is via cursor - acceleration, deceleration and steering all in one place - the cursor keys, with the handbrake off to one side so its easily accessible. The only weakness in my layout is that it becomes necessary with it to release the accelerator in order to open fire on an opponent, but this simply meant that I changed my tactics to get ahead of them and then open fire - and if done properly is still just as effective. You can also fire while chasing, but aiming is handled by the mouse, so can be awkward. I however, consider this a challenge. It occurs to me that other PC version GTA-IV users may also have re-defined the keyboard to best represent their experience and may wish to share these layouts. You never know, a users personal choice may work for another person. Feel free to add your own layout below and add a comment about why you choose it.

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