It relies more on shock value rather than good gameplay, and in comparison to the other GTA's, shock doesn't cut it.
...Well now, I think we all know about Grand Theft Auto. At least, when most people think about GTA, they think about the Grand Theft Auto III Era (GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas, and the "Stories" series), but this is the game that started those, that would really bring Rockstar (During this game they were DMA) fame and fortune. And I have no effing idea how. I guess it could be fun, but thing is, the mechanics are all effed up. I mean, it drops you into the city saying "You mess up, we mess you up", and I mean, really? The jobs are so crappy, even though they're the predecessors to the others in later games, the driving moves too fast, the streets of Liberty City are crowded, and honestly, the gunplay sucks. I've wielded a total of 2 weapons in the game, and I've barely been able to hit anyone with the pistol, however, cops have Godlike (The hardest difficulty in Unreal Tournament series) accuracy, and their guns will kill you in one shot, every time (Yours do the same, but you can't aim too well, now can you?). The cars show some damage, but don't catch fire when about to explode. That makes for some frustration, as you need your car (or another's) to make it in the city. It's also an extremely large city, so you will get lost without a map (I assume they had one before it became downloadable, but whatever). The graphics are somewhat "muddy", like "Medal of Honor: Rising Sun" muddy. The people are just blobs, and that isn't cool. At all. I believe other games at the time this was made had complete 3D graphics (Half Life and Unreal come directly to mind, as they were in the same year, but those are FPS). Point is, nothing in the game really fits together, and it becomes excessively average as such.