Metal Gear SolidMetal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
But after a discussion with a close friend of mine (who is a complete Metal Gear fanboy) I was ultimately swayed to see the necessity of this sequence. It provides the player with a cooldown period, a small and welcome reprieve.
The action of that sequence involves you stalking and being stalked in kind by your target, and the player has to be keenly aware of his entire environment. This can fry the player's nerves, the stress of the prolonged situation weighing heavily.
So the ladder sequence is made that much more iconic because it is the only time in the game where there is music. During the ladder climb, the game's theme plays in full and it serves as a catharsis for the player, giving them time to reflect on the things they have so far accomplished.
Gamer fatigue is a hard phrase to pin down to a single definition. When you google it, a handful of different definitions pop up. Some people say it's the listlessness that comes from prolonged periods of gaming. Others say it is when the industry is too bogged down in commercial appeal and the financiers of games are pushing for material that will pad their wallets more than excite the consumer.
I think both of these definitions are accurate, but not exactly the kind of fatigue I'm talking about. I'm talking about the fatigue that comes from relentless action and a lack of pacing. This fatigue brings you out of the game and lessens the impact of the action sequences.
This video here perfectly describes the notion that I'm driving at. He talks about the importance of these slower, quieter moments in games, so that the player has time to think about the narrative and relax a little bit, so they don't get burned out.
It's important for a developer to keep these pacing tools in mind when crafting a game, as it is these kinds of sequences that make it possible to continue playing for hours without becoming bored or disenfranchised.