I get you dude. It was a different era for games, GTA1 was one of the last old style 2D/3D games as half life on pc released the very next year (1998) changed the entire games industry.
Yeah VC's soundtrack really had a great impact in me and I probably love the game mostly for the soundtrack And it was the first game I played that had bikes, and it was so much fun.
I played GTA 1 and 2 for the first time when I was 12 or so because I was 4 in 1997. Maybe that spoiled it for me but I just can't find a way to like those 2 games no matter how much I try to play them or try to tell myself "this is fun" or "this was great when it came out". Maybe it's just because 90s games were very hard in general or demanded more commitment to playing them, and games just became more "casual" in the 2000s, in this case with GTA 3, which absolutely blew my mind.
I was 10 years old when I started playing GTA in 97, to me then GTA was the funniest most free game I'd ever played and Iguess II'll always love it. I REMEMBER coming home with gta3 on release in 2001 though, when i put that in my ps2 for the first time I nearly died of awe. I didnt think it would get any better than 3, I was wrong. Haha
my least played GTA is London 1969 + 1961, (ironic considering my avatar) because I never got hold of them at the time and I overlooked it for years after GTA2.
III really impressed me technically too when it came out . it had really cool and innovative features like the stunt jumps , the cinematics based on your gameplay , the pay 'n spray , and also the 3 big islands that were progressively unveiled