I'm a huge fan of Vice City, it was the first GTA I played on school breaks in an internet cafe then bought it and waited whole 7-8 months to get a PC so I can actually play the game that came on those two lovely discs I had bought.With that said it will be forever my favorite GTA. But my favorite doesn't also mean it is the best.
To sh*t on any later game so much as people do WITH EACH ONE RIGHT AFTER RELEASE is just ridiculous.
If we're going to go and be realistic Vice City was a great game, but many things were worse than even GTA III.
It had a very small map, only a few streets you'd use most of the time.
Had no walk-and-shoot or free aim when doing a drive by.
The shooting was generally very bad.
No free camera around the car.
Pretty short main story (yes, you can complete the main story without ever doing most of the side stuff like Phil's missions or Love Fist missions etc).
The story introduces a lot of characters but they don't stay around for too long (similar to most GTAs).
It also had a lot of great things:
The map was beautiful and created an awesome atmosphere.
The arcadey feel of cars and characters.
Shooting people's heads off.
GTA V, or any main GTA after VC had much better gameplay mechanics and allowed you to do more with your character. And so does V. In terms of gameplay it is much better than VC. It may come down to a choice between arcady and realistic style, but that's a whole different discussion.
The map in V is infinitely times larger and offers much more than VC map ever did.
The story may be subjective, while V is more original, VC was more based on classic movies so of course it felt closer to most of fans, and is in my opinion better than IV.
The soundtrack needs no comment, but everyone should understand VC was made 20 years after the mid-eighties which allowed Rockstar to choose the best music and also made the music a bit cheaper in some cases. V is set in current age they had to go with new music that is expensive and also hasn't had a chance to stand the test of time.
Overall, VC was a great game when i came out and will as such remain a great game forever. But had VC been released today, with all it's original faults, it would be regarded as a piece of turd sh*t. Most of us were very young when we played VC back in the days and it was all more fun because WE WERE KIDS. Now, the original VC players have grown up and lost interest in most things so of course V can't be fun to us as much as VC was. But to these new kids, V will be what VC was for us, and they'll have this same discussion in 10 years, saying how V was a classic and VII or whatever sucks because of this or that.