This was my third journey into the world of Grand Theft Auto and I am starting to pick up on the formula. So, this is essentially the same game mechanics as GTA: Vice City but with better graphics. I'm usually not a graphics wonk, but this game is jaw-droppingly spectacular. Every little detail has been captured, the environments are incredibly convincing and the city truly feels alive. There is so much to see in Liberty City that you could spend days just exploring (especially if your NPC buddies didn't keep nagging you to go play a round of virtual darts every five minutes). I've played the game for 50+ hours and still feel like I haven't seen everything.
I made this point in my Vice City review, but the great thing about GTA games is that they fulfill a classic gamer's dream of being able to just drive wherever you want in a racing game. Imagine how awesome it would be if you could drive off the track and go explore the mountains around Fuji raceway in Pole Position! However, for a game that has driving as a key game play element, the driving controls sure do suck. Every car you drive feels muddy and weightless. It takes hours to get used to the mushy controls and you will still find yourself cursing the game as your car rolls over on a slow speed turn.
The plot is nothing groundbreaking, but the various characters you meet along the way are well-defined and interesting. There is just not enough urgency to your main over-arching mission of revenge do motivate you to keep taking on missions. When the time finally comes to end it all, you just don't really care any more. In any event, when a game lets you just roam around and do whatever you want, does the main mission really even matter? Go nuts! Drive a moped into a hospital and do wheelies in the hallways!