It's obvious that people never look out how much resource the computer will take. The game runs fine only on the new high-end 64bit computers like the Dell XPS 9100. Their reviews are indeed old, so now it's 2011. Get a new high-end 64bit computer and grab the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV. Believe me, it plays great on mine.
It should have worked perfectly on any computer that was 2 years old already at the date of the release of this 'port' which was 2 years ago so that would make those computers 4 years old now... so yeah "poorly optimized" is the right word. Do you get the low ratings now or are you gonna advice me to buy a Ferrari so I can "smoothly" commute 3 blocks away to my work?
Most of the anti-GTAIV whining was because of one of three things:
1) People with old, crappy computers - who expect to be able to play modern games. (also, lol @ "gaming laptops." I have a friend who raged at GTAIV because he couldn't play it on his 5 year old "gaming laptop" at the time of release.)
2) Choice of DRM in GTAIV - SecuROM, GFWL, and Social Club. A lot of people rated it 1 star just because they didn't like having so many different kinds of DRM all rolled into one game, none of which are popular on their own anyways. Most people seem to want games to be similar to circa 1998 when all you needed was a CD-key and a disc check, and didn't need to go online at all to play.
3) Bugs - like the infamous memory leak thing where textures would just slowly stop being loaded, until eventually the entire map was sortof see-through with no buildings, roads, or anything like that being visible, despite NPCs still being displayed walking around on the invisible map from a distance off.
Now, on to my personal analysis of these 3 issues: 1) People with 5 year old "gaming laptops" or otherwise low-spec computers shouldn't expect to be able to run a modern game released in 2008 which is optimized for use with quad-core processors, and systems that have 1gb video cards and a minimum of at least 4 gb of system RAM. That being said though, I still experienced the textures glitches I describe above from section 3 on an older computer I have with a 32 bit OS, despite having a quad-core, 4gb of RAM, and what was (at the time) a fairly decent video card. My game ran fine for a few hours, but I found I had to reboot the game between each mission (particularly if it involved lots of driving cars around) to avoid the memory leak/texture loss issue.
2) Yeah, the DRM choice sucks... and if this were some non-GTA game I was interested in, that might be a reason to not buy it... but this is GTAIV! How could you skip that? I'm a huge GTA fan, and I have bought and played all the GTAs Rockstar has released on PC since Vice City. Rockstar would have to have put limited installations on it or something like EA did with spore to get me to not buy it due to the DRM choice. Even then, I'd probably sooner buy a console to play GTA than just skip a GTA release like that.
3) The bugs and memory leak issue sucks, but I notice these issues went away when I played the game on a recently built PC. Still, the PC I played GTAIV on initially wasn't that old at the time of release, so for Rockstar to release GTAIV with such a damaging memory leak issue still not taken care of in the PC version seems careless and sloppy, without a doubt. I feel like my 2.5 GHZ Quad-Core, 4GB ram, NVIDIA 9600 GT 512mb, Vista 32bit PC should have been able to play GTAIV without this memory leak problem. Heck, the PC might have been newer than GTAIV, so for there to have been this kind of major crippling bug in the game release at that point is simply shameful, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
At the same time, lots of the people complaining had much older PCs than that... and often were, as I mentioned, running 5-year-old PCs at the time of release, (sometimes even 5-year-old "gaming laptops, as I mentioned) .... which is obviously ridiculous.
So essentially, it was probably a mixed bag. Yes, the port wasn't so great at the time of release, and yes it was buggy. But PC gamers should also realize that they can't run 5-year-old hardware and expect to play modern games at 50 fps, and that gaming laptops... unless they are fairly new... are a dumb idea to try to play GTAIV with. PC gamers should also realize that since piracy is so rampant on their platform, Rockstar will want to layer multiple invasive and occasionally annoying DRM types into anything they release on the PC platform. But Rockstar should also realize that there are some forms of DRM that PC gamers are generally more tolerant of, like Steam, and probably should have chosen DRM methods for GTAIV and EFLC accordingly, rather than going with the generally more despised method of GFWL and SecuROM.
Despite all of this, none of these reasons are really good reasons to not buy GTAIV at the moment, because I'm assuming if you're a PC gamer that... by 2012 you should have a quad-core, a 1gb or better video card, 4gb or more of RAM, and a 64-bit OS... and as a PC gamer you should realize that considering we didn't even get a Red Dead Redemption release at all, you're lucky to even be able to play GTAIV and EFLC to begin with. Plus, it's dirt-cheap these days... and GTAIV and EFLC are uniquely awesome. If you're a GTA fan, you should know this. (It's not like Saints Row is going to replace GTA anytime soon... hahaha.)
The big issue with this game is the cd key not working for the PC version. Its hard to give it a good rating if you pay for it but can't play because of the bad cd key from steam that needs to be activated on Games for Windows Live.