The whole situation reminds me of how Champions of Norrath on the PS2 locked up for a fair number of consumers, but no reviewers mentioned it. Seemed odd to me at the time and I did some asking around to find out why.
Turns out reviewers didn't review the same kind of disc sold in stores. One reviewer told me he reviewed Champs o' Norrath on two single-layer DVDs as opposed to the dual-layer DVDs sold to us commoners.
Makes me wonder if the same thing happened here. The reviews are pretty much all pegging the 10 on the review-o-meter, but I haven't heard about the reviews talking about lockups like folks are seeing on normal systems. If I had the time, I'd start asking around -- someone should.
Meanwhile, I hard reset my PS3 and played about 15 minutes up to the first save point. So far so good. Now if I only had time to play more, but real life has me elsewhere. Ah well.
My PS3 60 gig does not lock up with the game, so what does this tell us?
I'm not sure either...
But don't major game site reviewers play on debug units? That could be why they didn't catch it, or it could be something else.
To follow up, I played for another 30 minutes today, had no issues whatsoever. Amazing how natural the game feels -- crazy GTA3 muscle memory kicks in, even if the streets don't seem familiar.
Also, the big admin over at NeoGAF, bishoptl, apparently has a debug unit and his retail copy locks up. His normal 60Gb PS3, however, does not.
If I'm following the implication correctly, it seems the pre-release that was reviewed didn't have this particular issue, though something done to the game between review and release added it.
So is the question what the reviewers played or is it what the beta testers later tested?
The PS2 game had trouble because the PS2 was touchy about double-layer DVDs, or at least that particular use of one in a game.
Reviewers never had that problem because they used single-layer DVDs.
Now, the question is why didn't reviewers comment on the instability that GTA4 players are seeing. My only angle on it is that they may have reviewed a different medium (single-vs-double-layer Blu-Ray, e.g.).