Dale and I are in total agreement on this one. I was really looking forward to GTA2 because I'm a big fan of open-ended games like the classic Elite for the PC or the low-profile Escape Velocity for the Mac. I never cared for the original premise of car-jacking and thuggery for the sake of being able to do so, but in the sequel, the idea of operating in a consequential world with gangland loyalties was intriguing to me. Too bad the whole notion goes totally wasted on a game with so many defects that I barely know where to start.
Dale's already mentioned most of them, so let me just highlight the ones that offended me the most. I'll start with the irrational controls. Not only are the controls unconfigurable, but all the offered schemes are terrible. It's also painfully obvious that when a player is 'on foot', the control scheme should switch to a simple directional method rather than still using a rotating axis, which is better suited for vehicular motion. Then there's the lack of any map feature which is so desperately needed since navigating the streets is a total bumper-car-style nightmare and finding the 'safe house' for game-saves is an exercise in fustration. The game does offer directional compasses, but they are confusing, poorly implemented, and not much help other than for locating gang turf.
Yet the worst thing for me boiled down to how the whole 'respect' and gang loyalty thing never played out convincingly throughout the game. All switching sides meant was having to drive over to a rival gang's hood and run over dozens of members until I was in good favor with an opposing gang. Gangs are notorious for being harsh on defectors, but I never felt that there was any real, long-lasting consequences for siding with one gang over another in GTA2. That made running the already tedious missions for particular gangs even more pointless. This really disassociated my level of involvment in the game. That last statement pretty much sums up my feelings towards the game. I wanted to 'get into' everything GTA2 offered, but the game's many flaws served as a severe mental roadblock.