I've just purchased this on steam because it was reduced and I'm writing a review here, because this is where I went myself to get some insight in to the game before purchasing it
First off, you need to be aware that a lot of the negative reviews posted here are from people that can't get the game to run without crashing, running very slowly or are morally opposed to being forced to sign-up to MS LIVE. If you start to read through these reviews you will find that a lot of complaints about not getting it to run appear to be the fault of the author. People complaining the game wont run fast on their laptop with a crippled graphics card or that it wont run on their unpatched (probably pirated) copy of XP.
This is my system: Windows XP SP3, Intel i5 2.6Ghz 750 (this is an older i5 not latest), Nvidea GTX460, 4GB RAM. And this is my experience:
Install passed without problems The first run of the game icon set off some installations of stuff (DirectX checks etc.). It all went fine. The game then started to load and then crashed... (don't panic!) I waited a few seconds and ran the desktop icon again and this time it worked fine (and has every time since)
Once in to the game's main menu this is where you start to hit some of the things other reviews complain about
First thing it is going to try to get you to do is join the social club. You DO NOT have to do this, just choose play offline and you can skip registering! You loose multiplier and being able to post videos for others to watch (I wasn't bothered about that).
The next thing it will try to do is get you to join MS LIVE. This is also optional and you can just click no to everything and start playing, however you will loose the ability to save the game... So as I think most players will want to be able to save you are going to need an MS LIVE account.
If you follow the links given it will take you to an XBOX live premium sign-up page. WARNING this is a paid for subscription, DON'T REGISTER!!! The design of the sign-up page may change by the time you read this, but you are looking for a small (almost hidden) text link which lets you sign up for a free (non-premium) account. On the page I was directed to it was down on the bottom right of the page.
if you already have a Hotmail account you automatically already have an MS Live account, but it will still want you to link it to a game account (only takes 5sec to do this). MS Live will then perform an update which requires the game to restart, but you should be all set after that. So finally we are at the point you can actually play the game! It was a bit of an annoying process, but only took about 10mins to go through.
For me the game settings defaulted to 1920x1200, textures medium and anisotropic x4 The game seemed fine to me at these settings although I will probably try to tweak them later (I'm going to be upping the textures for sure). On these default settings the in-game benchmark tool returned 61fps, 47% CPU usage, 47% video memory usage. Edit: I set textures to high and the fps went up to 64 :)
As you will have noticed from other reviews when players can actually get in to the game they love it, so I hope my review of getting in to the game helps you decide if you want to purchase it or not.