That’s the question that comes to mind if you’ve read a certain user’s post on GameSpot.com. In it, Just-Adam goes over a few requests he’d like Naughty Dog to consider in Nathan Drake’s third outing in the all-but-confirmed UNCHARTED 3: Something Something.
One of your strongest suits, Naughty Dog, is the engaging story and characters. You’ve done a great job getting us invested in the characters. We have become very familiar and attached to them. That presents the opportunity to make the third installment quite the emotional game. […] A death of someone major would shock and move people. My vote? Letting Sully die in a heroic gesture towards the end of the next game.
– Just-Adam, GameSpot.com
But why a death?
It’s no surprise that taking a player (or watcher or reader’s) favorite character from the medium and killing them off (though, in Hollywood, does anyone really die?) can do a lot to tug at the heart-strings or propel the story forward as a major turning point for the other characters.
Let’s take some time to analyze some of Hollywood’s biggest deaths or close calls (notwithstanding their potential for respawning, as it were):
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Arguably one of the biggest movie deaths in history, Spock is killed in front of the viewers eyes as a sacrifice to save his crew. As the characters each express their grief and we watch Spock’s sendoff to the Genesis planet, we’re wondering if we’ll ever see Spock again. If you walked out of the theater during the original theatrical release, Star Trek III wasn’t even confirmed let alone talked about at that point, and it indeed looked like Spock might be lost forever. This death ultimately became the main plot for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, causing many of the characters to alter their behavior and shift alliances in order to get their friend back- in whatever shape he might be in.
No, spoiler-free international viewers out there, we’re not talking about this past and final season, we’re talking about one that took place during the mind-blowing flash-forward 4th season finale. We won’t name the character, but for those of us who watched and finally found out which character was in the coffin, it moved the story into uncharted waters. After everything we’d seen the past 4 seasons, was it really possible they’d kill that character? Yes, they did, and even though their role was still important to the remainder of the story, LOST was never the same again, and neither were the other characters close to the dearly departed.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Up until the third movie, the intrepid Dr. Jones had skated by discovering the Ark of the Covenant, battled a cult and saved a civilization and crossed the globe in search of treasures, continually escaping those who wish to do him in. Something needed to change, and the only way to break that formula was to kill someone close to him. In the case of the third movie, his long-absent father was by his side, until the abrupt shooting that threatened his life. It wasn’t until that point that Dr. Jones, a man of science, had to take a leap of faith and believe in a power he couldn’t see or explain. Without the leap, his father would have certainly perished.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Go ahead, call the über-popular Joss Whedon TV Buffy series a joke, we dare you. The fans are about as serious over the show as LOSTies, Trubies or Gleeks are over their own shows, perhaps even more rabid, and with good reason. Things were going ok for the slayer known as Buffy Summers, despite the daily beatings she’d get in with demons and vampires and the like, until Buffy comes home to find her mother, Joyce Summers, laying back on the couch. The problem was, Joyce wasn’t daydreaming, napping or sleeping, and there was no demonic foul-play at hand: it was just an aneurism. Something that couldn’t be diagnosed in time to stop, and following the character’s previous bouts with a brain tumor (which an operation fixed nicely), the chances of her succumbing to something as simple as an aneurism seemed so far off. Damn you, Joss Whedon, must you torture us?
Another one of Joss Whedon’s cult classics, Serenity is the big screen send-up to the short-lived Fox television series Firefly -which they canceled the same year as Family Guy, forever solidifying Fox’s status as the network who knows no patience- finding the scrappy odd-job crew once again fleeing from the Alliance and Reavers. Everything seems good and dandy, however, when they’re forced to head down to a planet… until something happens. I don’t think a single person in the theater was fully prepared for what was going to happen or whom it was going to happen to. Several gasps later, and with just the right amount of time for the viewers to grieve, we were forced back to the film’s action and the character’s immediate threat: that they’d all likely follow their fallen crew mate into death. This caused quite a stir among the crew, with some characters considering giving up. Those who didn’t, however, became more determined to make it out alive. Damn you, Joss Whedon, must you torture us, again?
Back to UNCHARTED…
All in all, the first two UNCHARTED games had everything the players needed: neat puzzles for the heroes to work out, conflicts, a sense of urgency to the story, love interests, quirky humor, some back story, and a few secondary character deaths that helped the story but weren’t enough to deeply affect the player.
What better timing than to shake things up and really make UNCHARTED stand out as the strongest cinematic games series the industry has seen? I for one wouldn’t object to one of the main characters biting the dust, as long as it’s handled heroically. The question is who? Should Naughty Dog take a risk and have Nathan give the ultimate sacrifice for his friends (thus ending this Nathan Drake chapter and forcing a ‘reboot’ for future games, you know because reboots are all the rage these days), or take the easier route and go for Elena or Sully?
Either way, we’re certain Naughty Dog will get more than just a few tears from most of the UNCHARTED loyal should a main character die, and that the game composer, Greg Edmonson, could definitely tackle the task of scoring the soundtrack for that potential, fateful scene.
Should a main character die, and if so, who should it be? Give us your thoughts in the comments…