Desensitised or bored stupid?

In appears that the game Manhunter 2 by Rockstar that was banned by the BBFC earlier this year has won an appeal to get that decision over-turned. Now it returns to the BBFC to either allow the game to be released with a 18 certificate or appeal the appeal decision. It's worth noting that this same game was only released in the US after censors removed content.

Being an avid gamer, I enjoy most if not all game genres that and can get around to playing. Yet sadly, it seems that more and more recent a methods to avoid having to give a game a decent storyline is to play the gratuitous violence card and it kind of deflates my enthusiasm for games a little.

Firstly I'd like to say that this isn't a 'ban violence in games' post, it's more along the lines of ' I expect more'. Using shocker elements and touting the best graphics engines , seems to be the way to 'carry' a game into the sales rather than delivering a game with better storylines and/or gameplay.

Is it just the shape of the current market or is it the fact that adding elements to the game with hopefully detract from the fact that there is little storyarc?

Lets look at 3 examples from the recent past, Half-life2, Doom3 & Deus_ex, two of these games were large important names and a lot was expected of them.

Doom 3 had great graphics and gameplay handled ok, yet the AI enemies were very predicable and I just gave up playing this game as the storyline didn't even make me want to play after about 5 days.

HL2 saw the launch of the new Source engine. This gave some outstanding graphics and physics. There was a storyline that kept you moving into each new section. The end game a bit poor and really didn't seem worth all the time I invested.

Deus Ex is a dated game in terms of graphics, but the gameplay/storyline is fantastic, player choice on how to carry out missions and what action to take gave the game its own unique element and made the replayability of the game an exciting prospect.

Admittedly combat systems in games are a key element, when it comes to FPS you can't remove the weapons else there would be very little to do. But on the other hand when countless amounts of time and money are spent getting that enemies head exploding just right, it makes you think 'what if?'.

When do games cross the line from impressive, interactive gameplay and into the realm of violence for the sake of it?