Having played this game for endless hours and nearly completing it for the third time, i can safely say that this is one of the best games out (certainly the best from rockstar). The storyline is brilliantt; i dont think i would change a thing about it. The characters are very well thought out, the missions are varied well and the game is very long.
The negatives to the game would be the lack of customisation as you can only customise the main characters clothes (other rockstar games, including gta san andreas, allowed you to customise your player's haircut and body shape) and even this is disappointing because you are very limited without the amount of clothes you can actually buy. You cannot customise cars either, only can you change their colour via pay and spray.
Another negative is that there is not a lot to do in the city. Planes are out of the game as well as other fun vehicles in previous gta's, and this is because the map is entirely city-based. Im happy that the game is set in new york, however this effects the free-roam as you feel as though you are just driving around past building after building with the occasional park or internet cafe going past. As this is what new york is like, i know i cannot complain too much, however it does effect the free-roam.
Now for the positives. This is one of the longest games i think i have ever played and you dont feel bored for a second. The steering is heavier which means it is harder to drive (which i personally prefer) and the graphics for its time is very good. There is a good range of weapons, side missions, and even online game modes. I still play the game to this day and i would highly recommend it.
The wanted system of stars is very good as you have to exit a specific area covered by the police to lose your wanted level. Police are very good and responsive to your moves and have good tactics of catching you. As i previously mentioned, the characters in the story are great; they are all varied and unique, making the game less linear and a lot more unexpected as to who youre going to meet next.
Without a doubt i believe this game is worth the money and will stay as a classic throughout gaming:)