Not sure if you've already tried this Mirage, but before you reinstall try running it in windowed mode. I had the same problem, but on my system it was even more extreme - it actually caused some BSOD's and reboots during those early sequences. I did some snooping/consulting and found out the game uses a legacy Win GDI function for calc'ing some screen effects.
From what I've been told by some PC game coding buddies, some of this legacy stuff is craptastic for backward compatibility and can be a real problem for newer hardware. On my gaming rig -which is running WinXP- it appears that the function was erring out at such a low system level, that it screwed the vid driver and the OS couldn't even capture it in a proper error routine! Once I set the game to windowed mode I haven't had a single problem since, and that's after about 6 hours of gameplay. One of my buddies thought it might also be resolved if the fullscreen rez matched the desktop rez - I was running it at 1280x720 fullscreen while my desktop was set to 1368x760. I'm happy enough with it in windowed -performance is the same- so I'm not going to mess around with it anymore.