19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Painful Install - Killer PC Specs - But Still A Reasonable Game,
This review is from: Grand Theft Auto IV (PC) (CD-ROM)
I'm not going to make an issue of the DRM on this game as, if you believe the devs, it has only been added to check you are not activating before release date (now passed) and that you have the DVD in the drive.
However Rockstar have not made the game particularly user friendly or accessible for the PC market. To start with, you have to install a utility called GTA Social Club which requires you to register details on the Rockstar website. This is the front end to start the game, so you cannot avoid the process. This is one of the first games to support the extension of Microsoft Live from the X-Box 360 to the PC. You must therefore have a "Live" account and the latest version of the software installed to start the game, even if you have no intention of using this facility either. I found that by default, the installer "embeds" Social Club so that whenever you start the PC, you get the GTA Social Club sign in box appear after it boots up. Now it appears this can be disabled but it is cheeky, invasive and presumptous that you want to run this software every time you start the PC.
This is one of the highest specced PC games released to date. At a time when very few games are optimised even for dual core processors, anything less than a Core 2 Quad will fail the recommended specification. It will run on so called lower spec machines but with the detail settings turned down. Some serious issues with optimisation therefore.
Once up and running, I found my PC (E8400 @3.00Ghz, 4Gb RAM, 8800GT 512Mb Graphics) could run at a setting of 1680 x 1050 (max res for my monitor) at medium settings. It doesn't actually look too bad. Much sharper and more detail/better viewing distance than the PS3 version I previously owned and reviewed. As with previous GTA's you can use both mouse/keyboard and the XBox 360 controller for movement. Keyboard assignments can be changed but this is a bit trickier as you now have to allow for the mobile phone. I prefer to use the arrow keys rather than WASD but Up arrow activates the phone so currently thinking how to re-configure.
I found the controls a bit trickier than on the PS3. Walking via the keyboard, Niko needs a rather large turning circle. Driving is still tricky due to the implementation of more realistic physics and I found even slowing right down I was swinging wide at corners. This does not bode well for some of the time limited driving or "chase me" style missions that come later in the game.
Gameplay appears to be identical to the earlier console versions, that is to say cut down from previous GTA's with your in game actions much more story driven. Yes, the friends and schmoozing via the mobile phone are all in there along with the in game internet.
At this initial stage I am not displeased with GTA IV on PC, once it's up and running. However two stars are coming off for Rockstar making us jump through hoops to install (and play) the game and the very poor optimisation of what should have been a straightforward PC port.