I'm probably the last person to realize this, and I don't understand why it took me three iterations of the game to figure this out...but the Grand Theft Auto series is a set of games where you run chores. That's it.
I remember, though, that the commercials for these games in the past made the game much more appealing than they actually are, placing lots of emphasis on the wow factors and the manipulative plotlines. Reviewers from everywhere tout the game's use of a free-roaming world, where you're allowed to do anything, anywhere, anytime. And, for the most part, all this contributed to a purchase worth buying where you go around doing harm and malice to the city (or cities, in later games).
But, in the end, all you are doing is performing little "chores" in a world where you were ironically given free roaming.
Sure, if you boil down to it, all video games are "chore-like" in that you play a level that gets you from point A to B in a certain time or by performing a particular action. But, in Grand Theft Auto games, they literally give you a virtual playground to play in - and then take it away by slapping you with missions to do.
Of course, since the game gives you that freedom from the start, you can choose to not do anything at all and just run around causing pain and destruction everywhere. But then, it becomes even more time wasting than you actually playing the game.
Maybe this is why these games never gave me enough substance to progress the storyline. There's not much return value when the only thing to do is run quick errands to gain more plot. I like a game that rewards you for precision, accuracy, and the occasional awesome thing you did. Plus, random awards don't hurt, either. Just save me from the grocery list of missions that plague most games.