When it launched in April, Grand Theft Auto IV on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 was greeted with a chorus of approval from gamers and critics alike. With the PC edition of the game arriving in stores earlier this week, the reaction has been notably different.
Forum threads on GameSpot, Steam, and elsewhere online are lighting up with complaints from gamers about a host of performance issues. Poor frame rates even on powerful rigs, short draw distances, crashes, and missing textures are among a slew of stated issues gamers have with the title.
Not content to vent on forums, disgruntled GTAIV PC gamers have taken to Amazon.com and panned the port with negative user reviews. In addition to complaining about the game's performance, the Amazon reviewers have taken exception to its use of SecuROM DRM technology. Of the 56 reviews on the retail site as of this writing, 46 of them have issued a 1-star-out-of-5 rating, with the customer average now sitting at 1.5 stars.
The technical support section of Rockstar's official site acknowledges a host of known issues. For instance, Rockstar tells gamers with Nvidia 7900 series cards that a driver issue is causing the game to not render anything in the distance, leading to functionally unplayable performance. According to Rockstar, "NVidia is working on releasing a new driver as soon as possible."
The Rockstar tech support site also suggests that missing texture issues could be caused by driver tuning programs, and includes a list of dozens of possible error codes players may have encountered. Additionally, ATI card owners are advised to set the game's "MipMap Detail Level" slider to "quality" or they will see blacked-out textures, while the ATI 1900 series specifically has problems with flickering shadows. A patch for the shadow issue is underway, according to the developer.
As for performance issues on high-end rigs, Rockstar's tech support documentation contained the following explanation: "Most users using current PC hardware as of December 2008 are advised to use medium graphics settings. Higher settings are provided for future generations of PCs with higher specifications than are currently widely available."