In the bigger picture, it’s pretty insignificant, but one of the most thought-provoking things about Uncharted 3, to me, was the chandelier on the pirate ship.
I have to imagine a large-ish group of people spent a great deal of time creating the thing, from visual design to how it’d actually function in gameplay. Their time and effort certainly paid off, as the final product looks beautiful and makes for a thrilling, memorable set piece — maybe it’s not a definitive “trailer moment,” like the cargo plane, or the crashed train from Uncharted 2, but it delivers nonetheless.
Still, though the time you spend with the chandelier is awe-inspiring, it’s also fleeting — all in all, you spend maybe 20 to 30 seconds interacting with it (a bit longer, I suppose, if you die in the process). The chandelier is an exhilarating action moment, but it blends right into the background in a game defined by a constant stream of exhilarating action moments.
Am I trying to say that the developers’ hard work is cheapened or stripped of meaning because of this? No, I don’t think that’s quite it. It certainly highlights how overwhelming today’s world of video game development is, especially compared to that of a few years ago, but that hardly needs saying.
For me, it brings to mind that one scene in the Disney Atlantis movie where they come across this ancient pillar, about which the main character’s all like “wow, this must have taken x years to build!” And the demolitions guy just blows it up, and quips, “I made a bridge, took me what, like five seconds?” Is that really relevant? Well, a little bit. You could realistically argue that Nathan Drake spends the bulk of three video games (maybe more, I haven’t played the PSP/Vita spinoffs) being that demolitions guy — and in a way, you, the player, are that same guy. “That game that (maybe) hundreds of talented people spent months stressing over to ensure it’d turn out just right, and achieve what it set out to do? Yeah, I played it. It was all right, I guess. Hey, did you pre-order Watch Dogs yet?”