Yes, it's extremely overrated, if not the most overrated game ever made.
This game has the highest ratings of any game on the XBox 360 and for that reason I don't know. Seeing the post call it "Underrated" made me laugh. This game has the highest reviews of any other game on the current systems. There is no way it's "underrated" by any means. If you want to call something underrated take LCS or VCS.
The shiny graphics and realism in the game destroyed what was fun in all the previous series.
I don't hate GTA IV, but it was a massive disappointment. Everyone acted as if this were the greatest thing since sliced bread, and I don't see why. All you have to do is play GTA III and you see what a disappointment IV was in general.
First off the whole storyline. It's hilarious that Rockstar wanted to try and give Niko some kind of moral decency. Everyone who plays these games are not interested in morals and values. It's extremely hard to even take Niko's story seriously. On one hand, he's a really great character. I like him, but everything around him is pointless. Roman is a displaying factor of American Greed that influences Niko, while you play as him and spend most of your time always cleaning up behind Roman's messes that he creates from being an idiot. The long cutscenes are the majority of the game in general, and the story does have some nice parts in it, but it's incredibly hard to take Niko's story seriously taken how GTA is in general. It's hard to take all of them seriously, but this one is constantly praised for an unrealistic realistic storyline that is fun in times, but very boring once your favorite characters are no longer in the picture anymore. The weak point for Niko's character is playing the baby sitting to his cousin who is a moron.
The game does look beautiful, but you can only stare at something for so long. I remember when LCS and VCS came out, many people complained about the graphics, though those games both had way more fun activities than what was in IV, and both times around they felt more alive, rather than the lifeless display of what was Liberty City this time around. There's a wide variety of pedestrians but rarely memorable. There's nothing that rings in my ears like the workers from III "where's my damn tools!" or the gang wannabe guys from VC, or even the wide arrangement of pedestrians all around SA from rednecks to Asians to Elvis impersonators. These games didn't have the best graphics ever, but they felt alive, and made you feel like you were in the world. Liberty City, feels extremely boring. All the pedestrians talk about is smoking and using profanity. They walk around with their phones texting like the everyday morons you see in real life that don't watch where they are stepping while texting, but none of them are memorable at all. Out of all the games, this one has the most lifeless city.
With the pedestrians, you have to get into the comedy thing. GTA 3 was hilarious because it was spoofing everything that was popular at the time. The reality TV shows were really taking off, and it was hilarious hearing something on the radio about Liberty City Survivor. They even made jokes about the labor in corporate factories through the 'Aires Running Shoes' commercial. VC did this even better with making fun of the whole action movie American propaganda themes of the 80's and the products out at that time. In IV, all the radio shows are centered around vulgarity and terrorism. We hear enough about this in real life, no really. I don't want to constantly hear doom porn in a video game, since mainstream media has already done their job making everyone really believe men living in caves half way across the world are going to kill them. All the things that are meant to be funny and light hearted come off mean and vulgar.
I waited years before I bought IV, and I seen exactly why everyone hated it when I first started playing it. None of my friends cared for it, even though we had played VC and SA for years together. I played it for 4 months, before I got used to the driving. This is one of the biggest complaints. The new physics engine they used is complicated as hell. Years ago when I first played III and VC, I was used to the driving in little over a day of playing. Everything was so much easier. They improved this in SA, as people were encouraged to use handbrake on turns (very helpful when racing) In IV, it's like driving in real life, and it's a huge pain in the ass when you are doing one of those chase missions and you have trouble steering and the car spins all over the place, or you slam on breaks and still hit something, or you crash into something and Niko comes flying out the windshield. In VC, the motorcycles were much easier to handle than cars IMO, but in IV, they are pointless. They can be harder to control than cars.
The clunky physics engine works well if you want to drool at the graphics, but it's not a whole lot of fun. The shooting in general is upgraded, but could have been extremely better. Maybe since I played Red Dead Redemption first, I expected this game to copy the same shooting mechanics. However Red Dead was a hundred times easier to play compared to IV. The shooting and targeting is far easier, and riding a horse isn't no where near as complicated as driving any vehicle like in IV (and there is more fun stuff to do!). One of the biggest issues with the shooting alone scrolling through all your weapons to get your handy one out, while taking damage. (Thankfully they fix this in V with weapon wheel) You have to be on the ball at all times covering and locking on, other wise you take a lot of damage.
Finally, this leads me to the most disappointing thing of all. You play the storyline and earn bottomless funds of cash, with absolutely NOTHING to spend it on. Who wants to keep playing a game when you are sitting on 500K and have nothing to spend it on? You can only buy so much clothes, and after that you are done. The reason people played SA for years is because there was endless things to do. There was no limit at all to the clothing combinations or customization of character. In GTA IV, there is nothing to do and no rewards for it. The whole "friends" thing is annoying and feels like a chore. You already are spending 5 minutes to drive to and from point A to point B for a mission, only to be called and bugged by your "friends" who want to go out and get drunk or play darts. It is fun at first, but becomes very old very fast. If I want to socialize, I have real life friends that I can socialize with and go bowling and get drunk and watch comedy shows with. The game even punishes you for skipping these horrible shows, just like it punishes you by annoying you with a friend constantly texting you about hanging out when you don't see them enough.
The older games had so many activities to do that kept you busy, playing to get 100%. You also got a reward for these, which made it worthwhile and the temptation to try these things completely worth it. In GTA IV, they ditched all of this, but kept the Vigilante, and they add a 'Most Wanted', and now Hidden Packages are 200 Pigeons. Sounds like fun until you learn there is absolutely no reward for it at all. In the older ones, you earned guns for hidden packages. In San Andreas, you had the Photo Ops, Spray Tags, and the Horseshoes. They were a pain to get all 100 of each, but the reward being high powered weapons at all 3 of your save locations made it totally worth it. This made life easier for the missions when you could stock up on ammo by collecting the packages. The idea of using pigeons didn't bother me. VCS used balloons and this worked out great, because you still got a reward for it, but for GTA IV, you get nothing. The Vigilante was worth it for the 150 Body Armor. It made things easier for those really hard missions, but in IV, there is no reward for the Vigilante stuff, and no reward for doing the Most Wanted. All you get is money, which is pointless since there is nothing to spend it on.
Then the same thing goes for the Car Theft jobs for Stevie. For 30 cars, you don't get jack crap. All you get is money. In LCS, you had an Import/Export list to get for Love Media. The reward was a V8 Ghost and PCJ spawning outside your hideout in Newport. In VC, you had 4 lists to steal, and each one gave you an awesome rare vehicle, so it was totally worth it! You do jobs for Brucie and Little Jacob, and the reward is just money. Nothing else. This is entirely pointless since you end up with all this cash and nothing to spend it on!!!
Finally, the missions themselves become old quick. Niko does whatever he's told, and the only time we get real choices to choose something, it's not going to shake up the storyline that much. After Three Leaf Clover (IMO the best mission in the game) this is when the game becomes completely pointless with nothing to do but the missions. You just sit around with all this money and absolutely nothing to spend it on...but but you can go have a rampage killing innocent pedestrians!
This is pointless. It gets old incredibly fast, however not a shock that the main thing people thrive on in these games is the ability to go on killing sprees. It's useless to waste all your ammo killing people when you need to save it for missions where it matters. VC and III, LCS, and VCS had rampages, and while some were very hard, they were also fun. With the physics engine and new graphics, I stopped running people over as I got sick to death of blood being splattered all over my car. Graphics are not everything that they are pumped up to be.
The missions also have a huge problem. Besides the fact they are extremely repetitive with most of them being hits and chase missions where you have to kill people, the game takes away a lot of the fun with scripted mechanics. The most fun part about the missions in III was that you were in control. You as the player, chose how you were going to do it and pull it off. Example: choosing how to take out Salvatore Leone
With VC, they used some scripted mechanics here and there to make the game a bit more difficult, but you still had the reigns to choose your method of getting the mission done. In LCS, they used some of this but not too far The bike chases of Wayne and Ned were scripted, and they have high health, but still kill able before they reach their stop point
. In GTA IV, every single mission is scripted like this, and it takes away from the fun. Don't even bother wasting your ammo shooting at what you are chasing, since they are going to stop with more enemies and you need your ammo for that. Every single chase in the missions has scripted trucks and big things that get in your way (like the driving itself isn't already enough of a pain) it don't feel fun, it feels repetitive and boring.
You can't say the game is not beautiful, yes it looks really good, but as far as the fun goes, it is fun for about a week then it becomes incredibly boring, and the storyline is a cliche loaded joke that is hard to be taken seriously. There was one review that said the story was like watching Scarface with Space Balls characters in the background, and that is so true. They sacrificed everything for the storyline, and it was boring in the end. I think they learned from their mistake here and are fixing it all in V since they have focused on making that game appear far more full of life. Red Dead Redemption also suffered from the storyline. You had this amazing and awesome game there that looked and felt like the dying Wild West era, but the storyline was incredibly unbelievable, and that's mostly why people were so angry at the ending. As far as gameplay and mechanics go, Red Dead is easily better than IV, and much more fun to play.
IV is not a bad game, but by all means it is easily the most disappointing one of them all. The Expansion packs make up for a little bit of the disappointment, but they cannot fix everything. There is no way I would give it a 9.5 or 9.8 like it has on sites, a 6 or 6.5 sounds more like it. This is just my opinion though, the things I found wrong with it.