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I really enjoyed this article, because it pointed out what I have been having trouble expressing. Grand Theft Auto has run out of things to do, it pushed the envelope, and is scrambling for the next thing.
I was playing Grand Theft Auto 4 recently, and it's similar to a movie. Your character is fighting against adversity, and will eventually triumph over the enemy, but not before going through a series of Herculean tasks. The thing is though, this is all very modular, and holds your hand the entire time. The game will always you a car, gives you a gun, you drive on the pre-determined roads, and you complete the mission objective.