Proletariat. People are complaining about this game because if you played the previous GTAs you should know that GTA V in many ways is a setback from the previous titles in gameplay and in innovation. I'm not insulting you but reading from what you say... Most of the points you made are weak to support GTA V's so called awesomeness. I think you're a little too biased or blind as in you're a fanboy of GTA V and you disregard a lot of important aspects of the game that have been taken away or not even included. And yes San Andreas even for it's time is still far superior than GTA V.
I will give you the main factors of why I think GTA5 is an inferior game to the previous GTA releases in so many levels that even GTA4 is pretty much an equal if not superior game to GTA V.
I'm a fan of GTA ever since GTAIII for PS2 was released. I was obsessed with the gameplay of FREE ROAM. Vice City and San Andreas basically used the same engine as GTAIII but with great significant improvements in graphics and gameplay. (especially gameplay). I'd go into detail how each release was superior to the next but I don't really have to but we all or most of us can agree that San Andreas is the best GTA of them all to this date. It just has a very strong replay factor. So now that you know that i'm not some random troller or ignorant person let me explain the problems of GTA5 that I think really hurts the game and but most importantly us GTA fans out there.
GTA5 main problems:
If the previous Grand Theft Auto's never existed, would GTA5 then be considered a good game? My answer: Yes, actually. Unfortunately however Rockstar delivered us a GTA4 clone with some tweaks here and there but ultimately the same game.
The GTA5 world:: This is a huge misconception. Just because the map of GTA5 is bigger than previous GTAs area wise, doesn't mean that it's actually better in anyway. Here's why especially in GTA5. In GTA5 there is one big city and the rest is "empty" codes of hills, mountains, fields, and even more mountains where there is nothing to do. It takes more resources to code and render intricate objects like cities than hills and fields. That's what the developers did and called the game "bigger".
The graphics: What I first noticed immediately was that the graphics were actually worse than GTA4s. Could it be the TV or resolution settings? I don't know but on a 720p HD TV the graphics are not that good on the xbox 360. Someone tell me i'm wrong.
The physics: The physics are actually better than the previous GTAs, except GTA4...Even though people keep saying "GTA4's physics arent even realistic or great!" That maybe true but it's far superior than GTA5's physics. GTA4's physics are more realistic and more consistent with gravity and collision detection. The physics in GTA5 is inconsistent and random enough that you lose control of your character or vehicle to some degree. Disagree?
Map design: just pure awful. Coming from the previous GTA's I expected Rockstar to do this one right. When i mean map design im not talking about map of the GTA world but i'm talking about the 3D elements of the map. Still to this day there are fewer to no enterable buildings which i find unfortunate because this would have given the player more interaction with the world. Have you guys noticed that there are less and less ways to get to places? Notice that there are so many physical boundaries everywhere. Basically what i'm saying that the developers unintentionally created the roads and the map in a way so your player, especially while driving, is usually confined in a certain area or path of the world because of constant walls and barriers. This sounds silly but playing the older GTAs it was very easy to take those shortcuts and convenient ramps to get to places and not every place was surrounded by a wall or indestructible fence. It was easy to get out of a "jam". There was always a multiple path to get somewhere as well. In GTA5 you are constantly confined in a certain physical boundary. This was problematic in GTA4 but worse in GTA5 especially in the cities where there are more indestructible fences and barriers that get in the way of 'free roam'.
Replay Value: here's what kills the game the most. Because Rockstar is going to benefit greatly from this because there are a lot of people who love this game for reasons I cant understand. Replay value is the most important point here. We've come to a day in age where microtransactions will be the price you will pay for replay value. Instead of combining the strong aspects of their previous GTA titles and adding new innovative ideas to this over-hyped masterpiece, the developers want you instead to buy the 'additional' features that are already supposed to be in the game disc. After you beat the missions the game is a lifeless lump of sh*t. There is very little to no interaction with the world at all after you beat the game. It's done, over.
There are tons and tons of other things that really made this game a setback from the other GTAs. I mean there is a huge catalog of flaws and problems this game has that I cant even bare to list because the list is just too long. And even if Rockstar did not want to add elements from the older titles to GTA5 that's fine, but they didn't innovate or add new or anything significant to justify the hype this game has crazed.
Here's what I think:
SA > III > Vice City > IV > V
First off, I thank you for taking the time to read my post. I have reciprocated willingly to do the same. That having been said, if you read the last sentence of my post, you will find that I said something along the lines that the heyday, that is the prime GTA era (3D/PS2 era), is long gone and can never be rekindled no matter what Rockstar does. In fact, my favorite GTA is Vice City, then SA. You can't top those in terms of sheer nostalgic feeling and like you said the freedom of free-roam. But might I add, the one thing that hasn't yet dissolved from the GTA franchise is role-playing. You can do just about what you set your mind out to do. I believe role-playing and free-roaming are two very different things that are not interchangeable. Right now, I may sound like a hyprocrite because I seemed to have deviated from my original contention(s). But fear not, my entire premise/claim is that GTA V is the BEST GTA delivered to us thus far.
1. The map is not just a bunch of empty codes of hills and mountains. Each hill/mountain has a different environment, different habitat, different flora and fauna, different characteristics (roads, tracks, designs, sixe, shape). I assume, nay, I know that is not easy to do. Whilst I can agree that city coding is far more intricate, I must disagree with your assertion that Rockstar essentially, as you seem to propose, "half-assed" the map. No, they delivered a map that is thus far the most eclectic in terms of varaition and activities. And having been a long time visitor to Southern Califnoria, I can say that Rockstar truly did AMASP (as much as possible) to not replicate, but "rediscover" the LA countryside. The map we got is arguably the best. No need for multiple cities. They captured the character and charisma (or lack thereof) of American lifestyle of LA & countryside perfectly.
2. I play form an old Xbox 360 Arcade (with 256 MB and a 64 GB Sandisk Cruzer) with HDMI cable on 720p and I have not toggled my TV's resolution settings at all. The grpahics are just as good as IV's, but they're a little sharper and brighter. Not that much though. But enough to make an aesthetic difference.
3. Let's not argue physics. I haven't founf them to be a quandry or quagmire to my overall GTA V experience.
4. I answered the enterable buildings question in my OP. I don't find that map limits my endeavors whatsoever. I think you may need to explain/clarify what you're trying to get at there.
5. Replay-Each to his own. For me, I didn't need a vareity of activites to keep me busy in GTA IV. Driving, Flying, Causing mayhem were enough to get me playing GTA IV for 3 years without complain. Like I said, I'm not a hardcore gamer, I'm a SP kind of guy, I have never bought a DLC in my life (except for COD Zombies maps =) ) and for me driving around a map or flying over it are enough replay factors for me. Everything else were just like hors d'oevures for me. I must disagree with you claim that Rockstar didn't innovate. They did and made the best GTA game ever.
The reason we can't get SA and VC out of our heads was becuase during those days there were so few games worth playing. When GTA came along it changed everything. But now, with so many options, we are spolied and love to criticize GTA for petty, foolish reasons. This game is not a setback, but definitely a lunching pad for the next-gen.