Of course they are! Free Radical was a bunch of ex-Rare guys. I played the second one first, and despite feeling a little restricted in by the linear nature of some of the levels, I really felt like it was the next best thing. Don't get me started on that first one, though...
What I cant tell what I like is realistic deaths or unrealistic ones. For example, I can carry a dude with pistol shots back about 10-15 feet in Just Cause 2 and it NEVER gets old...just seeing how long I can knock them back is fantastic. but completely unrealistic.
However, like OP, I get kinda disgusted by realistic deaths lately. Despite having played God of War 3. lol. But I see that realistic deaths are necessary, like in movies, to really move games forward. Movies used to have cowboys who put their hands over their wounds and fell down...totally unrealistic. now we have Saving Private Ryan, etc etc. --- "its like kissing someone's ass, but there is no ass to kiss, but you are still kissing the ass" LethalApe on the Karma system.
Anyone remember the cerebral bore from turok? Little circular thing covered in tiny blades. You threw it at enemies and it honed in on their skull, bored into their brain and spewed brain matter everywhere before exploding and sending pink all over the place. Pretty gruesome, especially for the N64 days. I wouldn't mind a little realistic hit detection in games like COD and Halo, if PD's programmers could do it all those years ago it couldn't be to difficult, right? And realistic gore in some FPS games would be justified as well, i mean it does help to display the desperation of a situation like a WW2 scene. That was one thing COD: World at war had going for it, the gore was pretty crazy. I actually felt sorry for some of the guys who's head i removed with the BAR.
Turok 2 Medal of Honor: Frontlines (As I said before, the death where the guy checks his head wound is pretty memorable) No One Lives Forever 1 and 2 (the death animations are very similar to PD, Goldeneye, and Time Splitters) Time Splitters Series
I prefer these hit detection and scripted deaths over the ragdolls too --- Xbox Live tag - El Indio G