The original Crysis game (CryEngine2), combined with mods like Real Lifesys (or other extreme tweak mods aka Photoreal), combined with HD textures, and all viewed on 1920x1200 or above res display devices (especially combined with multi-monitor setups), will make your jaws drop.
You really need pure GPU and CPU power to push this stuff over 50 FPS. Whoever tells you otherwise simply hasn't done it.
Granted, Crysis has it's problems, but it is far and away better graphics-wise than anything console, or console ported to PC, and it's almost 5 years old now. Console ported games by comparison look a bit "cartoon'ish", even the strange changes they made in the CryEngine 3 to port Crysis to consoles (reduced res and color textures, etc). I'm one of the guys who purposely didn't buy Crysis 2 because I didn't think the graphics were any better than the original Crysis. I've also skipped Skyrim, for the graphics (poor), but also because slaying dragons (and every other creature in the woods that wants to do you in) all day does get old. Why can't Skyrim graphics look as good as this?
I'll tell you why. It's because Skyrim was made for the CONSOLES that came out 5 years ago!
Personally I am a high-end enthusiast. I do run SLI and 1920x1200. I do have an overclocked 4.1 GHz machine. I do upgrade my graphics about every 2 to 3 years. I use my money to push the industry along. I honestly believe that if people quit buying high-end, then the state of the art in GPU/CPU will slow down dramatically and we will never reach pure photorealism as soon. Console designs will also suffer because of it. For example, the nex-gen consoles had better be coming with DX11 capable GPUs and 4+ Gig mem, or for this day in age they would fair poorly. I am the reason that this new AMD graphics card even exists.
I'm the type of person who would buy this...
Sure, arguments can be made that the "game" is more important than the graphics. That is not entirely true, but it is why I still love a game of the now 11 year old Quake 3 Arena multi-player on occasion. But what I have been craving all my life is pure immersion. I'm an adult, and as such I'm looking not so much for a game, but more of a way to escape reality and go places that you cannot be in real life. I want massive exploration in a game, and I want that new environment to be as immersive as possible. Both with sound and graphics. And I'm willing to pay a company over $200 USD for the type of "simulation/game" environment that takes me away for 3 to 4 months playtime. It's a lot like reading a really good book. I am NOT looking for the McDonalds fast-food gaming experience where I'm bored to tears of the game after two weeks. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I'm looking for a game that would last almost 6 months or more of a world to explore. And I know that development wouldn't come cheap. So if I'm spending $500 on a graphics card, why not $250+ for a totally over the top ultra game?
Btw, FarCry 2 was an awesome game, with good graphics, with a very large environment to explore. I just loved how I didn't know what to expect around every mountain turn, or over a hill. I'm looking for a game world like that, and about 10 times bigger! I'd also like more realistic cloud, rain, weather, and sound environmentals.
I would say that anyone sitting at home, in their underwear, on the couch, on a console with a little stick controller, or jumping around the room with a kinect doesn't really care much about anything in-depth, and it isn't those people who are pushing the industry along. Those people are just pushing "fast-food" gaming, and everything is dumb'ed down because of them. They are the lowest common denominator, and just drag everything down with them. Yes those people have money, and I may be in the minority, BUT I HAVE MONEY TOO!
To the gaming industry: Get me a photorealistic ray-traced like environment, in 60+fps that's immersive as hell, and supports 2560x1600 graphics on multi-monitors and I WILL PAY YOU FOR IT. I make money. I have money. I will spend it. I'm not a child or teenager with ADHD and a little console at home. I'm looking for something like a FPS shooter / Myst series / FarCry / Final Fantasy massively huge immersive open-world game with absolutely stunningly beautiful graphics.
Note: I don't know any console gamers who have not questioned why the game play world looks so much poorer than the visual cut scenes in Final Fantasy. We want to play in the world of the visual cut scenes, NOT THE CONSOLE graphics...
PC game industry, Microsoft, hear me... let me play IN these worlds! Don't let console users crush our future. Occupy high-end gaming!