I think it's honestly a good game. I really loved the premise. The whole game was Rockstar's love letter to New York City, seen through the eyes of an immigrant. Does it have problems? Sure it does. With as big a game world as they made, you're bound to have a few. But I think the positives of the game FAR outweigh the negative ones.
And you have to remember too, it was released in '08, pretty close to the beginning of this generation. They've obviously learned a lot since then, and you can see it reflected in Red Dead and GTA V.
Gamers are too reactionary. Games are like fine wine, they must linger for us to get their true taste. There are plenty of examples.