Re: Remember when?
Remember when books were filled with random magical events and occurances that were never built up to and happened on the whim of the authro? Oh right, but that would suck nowadays because times change and people get more advanced.
Obviously video games are a different beast though. Better storylines and characters are great, that's for sure, but I agree that the main factor in video games should always be the gameplay. Story and characters and whatnot can be important but if the game isn't fun to play, I'd rather go read a book or watch a film than waste any more time with that.
Funny you mention Max Payne as Rockstar has been doing that recently. Their games are still fun but there are times where they'll sacrifice gameplay for an 'artsy' story. GTA 4, for example, was a great game, but I preferred San Andreas just because it was more fun. More unpredictable, and you had more varied missions.
Red Dead Redemption: another absolutely fantastic game, but why am I doing all these stupid farmhand quests? They're sort of dull and don't add much outside of character development which could've been accomplished in a different way.
Of course games mean more and are more fun if you actually care about the characters and what is going on. Even so, gameplay should be the most important issue imo.