Fail? No. It showed us the different type from previous games and some new things. Just because some noobs doesn't like changes, they don't have to. But it's really not a fail.
So in my opinion: VC (favorite + first GTA) < SA=IV (Reason is sentence above) < V (I'll see how it goes in the future).
They're much less "changes" and more so omissions.
I love GTAIV, but without question the game would have been much better if you could customize vehicles, have greater weapon variety, and, most importantly to me: parachuting. These were things that were all present in San Andreas. I can understand not being able to buy businesses, as it just wouldn't tie into the story at all, but everything else, man, the game would have been even more stellar. It's like when GTAIV came out they were so wowed by next gen GTA and how different it was, they they forgot about all the things the features previous games had that GTAIV was lacking. I'd also argue that Liberty City really could have done with a more expansive Alderny, perhaps including a second airport. Along with a decently sized countryside.
Another thing is side-activity diversity, there are very few in GTAIV and they're all limited in supply and unreplayable. Some, like the taxi missions, you can only do early on in the game.
There's things like the plane, yeah, I guess I can understand it not being there, it's not as if there's any great places it could land. GTAIV isn't necessarily a "fail" to me, but it's lacking, especially in comparison to what GTAV was able to accomplish.