I've tried to enjoy GTA 4. I've loaded it up several times, I've gotten through a few missions, but I just get bored and frustrated with it before too long. There are several reasons for this:
First there's the fact that walking,.running or driving, getting around is really, really slow. Or at least, it feels that way. Even when you're driving fast, you still don't get any impression of great speed, and you start crashing into everything.
Then there's the issue of character motivation. I have tons of money and no apparent reason to be falling in with these criminals beyond the little bit needed to get Roman out of trouble, but I'm doing it because that's all you can do in this game.
But the main reason I can't get into this game is Niko fucking Bellic, the awkwardest, most off-putting protagonist ever.
So here's the scenario: Niko arrives in America and discovers that his dickhead cousin has been bullshitting him about being rich and is actually running a shitty little taxi company and owes some money to criminals.
I buy Niko helping him out to begin with. Dickhead though he is, Roman is family and he is giving Niko a place to live, so getting the criminals off his back makes sense. But this is accomplished really quickly and easily, and ends with Niko having a legitimate job as a taxi driver.
But Niko goes out of his way to find more criminals to associate with, complaining all the while that he wants to start a new life in America and not be a criminal. So just be a taxi driver, Niko! Save up some money and move out of Roman's house, get a new job away from all these criminals and just be a normal person!
But let's assume that there's some reason why he can't do that that just wasn't explained very well. OK, you've decided to be a hit man and odd jobs guy for, well, basically anyone who asks. You could at least not be an idiot about it.
When you go to murder someone, how about just showing up, shooting them, and running away? This isn't rocket surgery. But no, Niko has to stop and talk to them first. It wasn't even in the job description that you explain to these people why you're killing them, you're just making your job harder for no reason! When you tell someone you're there to kill them, they tend to try to stop you from doing that.
But the biggest thing, the thing that makes me hate Niko Bellic more than anything else, is the way he handles social situations. Niko, if you're hanging out with friends you're supposed to be having a good time, not talking about how you hate everything and wish you were dead. When your girlfriend tells you about some little problem in her life, you don't tell her how much worse your life has been, it's not a competition. And for god's sake will you shut up about the war? No one wants to hear that. Particularly not when they're out bowling or on a date.
And when he's not bringing everyone down he's making everyone feel uncomfortable by just being the most awkward person ever. He oscillates wildly between being absurdly meek - if your boss tells you to come see him at his house, and he's not there when you arrive but his wife invites you to come and wait inside, you don't offer to just wait outside - and pointlessly confrontational.
In real life, anyone who behaved like this would be shunned and avoided. No one wants to be around a person like this. And I don't want to play a game being this person. Niko Bellic is the worst protagonist.