To be honest, I loved it. I think this was probably helped along by full settings (On a 3 year old computer no less) with a tweak or two to stop the lovely physics from being laggy on foot, so while I was doing whatever I was doing I could also gawp at the lovely graphics. I don't even usually care about graphics, but it's nice when they're so nice. Also particle physics made gunfights ever so satisfying. In the little exploring I did it was usually ram raiding an unsuspecting shop, smacking up the manager, emptying the till and then holding out against the police while the shop became increasingly smashed up with lovely shrapnel and broken glass all over the floor.
But therein came one of the major problems - according to this game world, where in 1951 they invent not only colour TV but also TV Remotes, Answering Machines and Video Cameras - is that the police haven't worked out how to use radios yet. You start breaking a car window, a bobby spots you - kill him and maybe the single car that bothers to come after you and you're let off. So holding off against the police mostly comprised of a patrolling officer every few minutes and the occasional passing car.
Also it was so obviously cut down. The story, lovely as it was, was clearly missing some large sections in places and certain 'stages' of your criminal 'career' seemed oddly brief. And it just seems to end. I wasn't too bothered by the ending itself, but it seemed too soon and it didn't seem like a final mission at all. In the first game I spent hours on that damned final mission, getting slaughtered every time. It shouldn't be a 'one attempt on Normal difficulty' sort of final confrontation really.
As for opportunities for exploration. How kind of them to leave in playboy magazines (Found 15 by accident) and wanted posters (Never saw a single one) and cut everything else. Cut cars. Cut weapons. Cut missions. Cut areas. Come on, be less blatant with your DLC. Who the hell is Jimmy anyway, I care about Vito - what happens to Vito, his family, his friends not some balding thug who didn't even get mentioned prior to the DLC.
Early in the game some characters you are introduced to, seemingly quite important, tell you kindly that you can stop by them for work any time. You can't. They're 'Busy'. Yeah, right.
Apparently I wrote more than I set out to.