Sure, games like Mercenaries and a handful of Battlefields tout their powerful "destruction engines," but no game ever replicated Red Faction's "Geo-mod" system's attention to detail. In Mercenaries, dropping enough bombs on a building eventually sparks a pre-scripted "Oh, I'm totally exploding now" animation wherein plumes of smoke obscure the game swapping out the "free-standing building" graphic for the "burned-out husk of a Wendy's" graphic. It's nothing more than a glorified cutscene.
But in Red Faction, buildings are actually destroyed brick by beautiful brick, in a way that makes sense.
Players are provided an assortment of weapons -- including a big-ass hammer -- and tasked with flattening every government building on Mars. The hook is that buildings collapse when they're structurally unsound, not just when their health points are fully depleted. Smashing out a load-bearing wall causes the public library to realistically crumble under the strain, and it'll take out any other nearby buildings it hits on the way down, like the world's sexiest, most dangerous game of dominoes.
That was nine years and an entire console generation ago, and I'm still waiting for something similar. Hell, even the sequel, Red Faction: Armageddon, forgot what made the first game great by inexplicably removing the wide-open setting and unlimited destruction and moving the action underground, where you mostly just smash pipes. Unsurprisingly, that decision killed the series, the publisher, my zest for lovemaking, and apparently the citizenry's collective ability to feel joy.