Nice write-up, answered a lot of questions. Does the driving/running handle well? My ideal driving would be GTA:SA, my ideal on-foot/shooty would be Saints Row (not a real fan of lock-on).
Also, I see you specifically addressed the graphics palette/design issue, but pretty much dismissed it. Does it look that much better in motion, or is it simply fun enough to ignore? I just found the city (from the early game movies) to feel very artificial and un-organic. Too many straight lines, too many reflective surfaces.
Still, the preview makes it sound like there's a ton of fun, and I like the freeform approach (a la Mercenaries, perhaps?) to missions.