Technology makes you lazy
The first thing I wish to make clear is that in no way am I against more advanced technology in gaming. I just feel very strongly that too much emphasis on improving the capabilities of the engine or the special effects can end up hurting the game more than it helps. A lot can be done with "simple" or "outdated" technology. Look at Starcraft or Alpha Centauri. It goes to show you what a coherent design team can do for a product.
As a counterexample, take a look at Unreal. Now, everybody knows we like to (half-jokingly) rip on this game for a number of reasons. But a big part of the rip-fest comes down to the fact that it's a really pretty game that ends up going nowhere. True, the first level was great - tons of scripting and interactive elements, but didn't it all go downhill from there?
Ugh. Bringing Unreal into the argument is a really low blow! But if we must go there, remember that Unreal isn't exactly a flop. It was the top-selling game when it was released, and one of the only reasons it's not doing too well right now is because the network code still bites. In Epic's defense, it's gotten a lot better than when it was first released, but it's still nowhere near as solid as Quakeworld or Quake II.
Maybe there's more than just that...
Only one of the reasons, huh? Well, would some of those reasons be poor weapons animations, sound and effects, ugly player models (much-improved in Unreal Tournament), and the like? Even you can see that none of these are technology issues. Maybe they need to get some new Foley artists and animators, but everything there definitely falls into the "game design" aspect. The engine is vastly superior to Doom's (regardless of the massive system resource requirements), and if they really wanted to, they could easily make an identical copy of that great classic.
Now look at Half-Life. It uses a modified version of the already-dated Quake II engine, but integrates such a coherent story and amazing level design that it's widely considered THE best of the current generation of first-person shooters. While there is some new technology used in the game, I was completely absorbed by the storyline - it was the first time I've ever played through the single-player aspect of an FPS game, and the interaction with NPCs and gripping tale kept me going until the end. That's what makes a game great, at least in a single player aspect.