You might be interested in following along in this thread:
Long story short, the Intel 945GM Chipset is as powerful as the Geforce 3 Series base model released in 2001. While techincally it is capable of more advanced instruction sets than the 3 series cards, this is done in software.
For reference, here's a list of games released in 2001.
- Serious Sam
- Baldur Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (Expansion)
- Max Payne
- Empire Earth
- Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (Expansion)
Strategy games of this era were still using sprite based graphics, and 3D engines were entirely the realm of first person shooters. A crappy graphics mode that would work on extremely low-end equipment would almost have to be a completly different game engine. Right now Elemental has a Cloth Map Mode that simply displays significantly less complex 3D graphics inside the existing engine, so that the user may seemlessly move between them. That same engine that displays the pretty stuff is still required to display the not-so-pretty stuff.
For Elemental to work in some sort of crappy mode, a new engine would have to be built. An engine where the pretty graphics mode didn't exist. A new engine would also require an entirely new set of Assets (Art), and would essentially be a different game entirely.
EA makes a version of Madden for the PS3, the XBox 360... and cellphones. The version for the cellphone has very little in common with the version for the consoles, and is indeed made by an entirely different team of people. It's simply not possible to make one version of a game and have it work across every available piece of hardware.