The argument that all
games can only be good if they are graphically amazing seems somewhat flawed to me. Graphics are an essential attribute to any game, but when a game's greatness is lacking in every other way then it tends to have a problem. I suppose the already aforementioned Call of Duty could have something to do with this, as its hailed for its realism, yet most everything else in it demands polishing. This includes gameplay.
If someone's looking only for realism in a video game, then I don't see why we should even bother calling it a game. It's more like a movie, with the exception of the player's ability to maneuver the character as he or she feels fit. I think people who are only playing for the cinematic aspect just want the realism. But
there is nothing wrong it that. It's their personal preference, and even though they tend to clash with ours that doesn't mean they should be outright bashed; simple as that.
As for me, I seek out and pick a multitude of things when I start a new game. I'm pretty much able to tell if I won't like it right off since most games bring all the elements up early on. Graphics are the first thing to appear, then usually gameplay, and lastly story as events begin to unfold. These work out best to me when they're perfectly blended together and balanced out. Star Fox 64 instantly comes to mind as a pristine paragon in which its worlds are pleasingly displayed, its gameplay is smooth and exciting, and the story is well-told through each stage as the team moves in toward Andross. A classic title that will forever demonstrate the unique order of these treble essentials.
Now, to top off this topic, I have to agree that controls are ultimately better than visuals. My thoughts are best projected through the quote below.
I would rather have a game that is fun to play and looks good (Skyward Sword as an example) than one that looks good but is boring to play (Red Dead Redemption).
This has been something of an adage of mine on this issue, and I was pleased to see it. Very well stated.