L.A. Noire So Big It Could Barely Fit On One Disc (Or Three)

L.A. Noire So Big It Could Barely Fit On One Disc (Or Three)

You can’t judge a video game by the number of discs it ships on – not unless you’re prepared to declare the four-disc Lost Odyssey as the best Xbox 360 game of all time. You can, however, judge the intent of the developer to give you a whole lot for your dollar.

The folks at Rockstar, never ones to skimp on the amount of content they put on a game disc, have made, in L.A. Noire, a game that spreads across three discs on the Xbox 360, the company confirmed to Kotaku. The forthcoming game about being a detective in 1947 Los Angeles fills a single-layer, 25GB Blu-ray disc on the PlayStation 3.

In fact, the developers made so much game that it spilled over into downloadable content.

L.A. Noire was always going to be a massive game, from the size and detail of the world to the length of the cases, and of course, the sheer amount of MotionScan data required for the faces of over 400 actors in-game,” Jeronimo Barrera, one of the company’s top people, told me. “To tell the story and make the game we wanted to make, we knew that it was going to take an entire single layer Blu-ray disc and three Xbox discs.”

Rockstar doesn’t tend to ballpark the number of hours it will take to complete their games, and the number of discs on this one doesn’t exactly mean the game will take, say, three times as long to play as the single-disc Grand Theft Auto IV. It does indicate, as Barrera explained, that the MotionScan data – the heavily promoted new technique for rendering realistic facial expressions from the game’s actors – requires a significant amount of storage.

The only down-side to a multi-disc game is that it could require a lot of disc-swapping. You don’t want to play, say, the two-disc Mass Effect 2 and want to keep changing discs. Not to worry, Barrera said. “Since the game is built around the concept of progressing through individual cases from desk to desk, players on Xbox will find disc-swapping is hassle-free. In fact, players will only need to swap discs twice at natural breaks between cases without interrupting the flow of the game.”

I’ve seen several of the game’s cases, each of which is presented as a discrete episode, though players can diverge and tinker with some side-missions. Rockstar people have likened the game to a couple of seasons of a TV show. And it turns out they made some episodes they didn’t have disc space for. “Throughout development, we created lots of great cases, the bulk of which were central to the main story of Cole Phelps and his rise through the ranks of the LAPD, alongside other cases that felt more like strong stand-alone episodes,” Barrera said. “This gave us a powerful main story, and left us with quality extra content that we wanted to put out as DLC, that would slot seamlessly into the existing game.”

L.A. Noire is sounding like another massive Rockstar game. Will it rival the length of the the dozens-of-hours-long GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption? It probably doesn’t matter. But if for some reason you were wondering if L.A. Noire was a small experiment or a tiny game, that’s not the case.


  • It would have been less disks, but Microsoft doesn’t let developers assume users have a hard disk.

    • Um, you do realise that makes no sense, right?
      Whether you allow mandatory installs or not, the data still takes up three discs.

      Although it would be nice if Microsoft altered the install code, so it would allow you to read the installed data from disc 2(or 3, or 4) when disc 1 was inserted, effectively removing the need to swap discs.

      • Not entirely true, if 360’s came with mandatory HDDs then developers could compress all the files into smaller packages that have to be installed. Having said that, 3 disks of runnable binaries probably would not compress down to 1 disk. So in this case, I don’t think it matters.

        I’m going to assume that I can install all 3 disks to my 360 hard drive and remove the need to disk swap though.

        • True, but as I understand it, most games are compressed to some extent, and the data is unpacked during loading.

          Also, as I said further down in the comments, changing discs isn’t that hard, so meh.

          Even if you install all the discs to your hard drive, I’m pretty sure you still need to swap them.

    • I agree, everyone’s been raving about how this is “made by the same people as GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption” but it’s not! It’s an Australian game and the probably the biggest release from an Australian developer in history and Rockstar is getting all the media credit 🙁

  • I’ve been unsure as to get this game, but I think this story just made we want this get it.
    Good to see developers putting what they want in a game, instead of conforming, thats what makes Rock-star soo good =)

    • Except Rockstar aren’t the developer, an Australian group by the name of Team Bondi are, and the game is published by Rockstar.

    • I agree, Lost Odyssey is the greatest Xbox 360 of all time, and the crowning JRPG of this generation, followed by Xenoblade Chronicles 🙂

  • Would love the option from MS to install the second and third discs, and only need the first, but this doesn’t bother me. Cannot wait for this.

  • What do you mean “And it turns out they made some episodes they didn’t have disc space for.”?

    You’ve already got it on three discs, what’s, one more (or even another Blu Ray)? Discs are cheap.

  • Hmmm. Even with the M$ update for expanded disc size on the horizon we’re quickly seeing the death of the DVD as a medium able to cope with the massive content involved with new games and technology. As a big player of games on 360 I find this a worrying prospect for the future of the console.

    • I don’t see the problem. I usually just take a disc swapping event as a good place to take a break, when I would have removed the disc anyway.

      Next time I fire up the game, I put in disc 2.

      There aren’t many games released this generation on multiple discs, and most of them simply because of their reliance on huge amounts of FMV (Blue Dragon, I’m looking at you).

      Obviously whatever console comes next will have a dfferent storage solution, but for the 360, I think DVD is just fine.

  • “In fact, the developers made so much game that it spilled over into downloadable content.”
    So that’s their excuse this time?

    • I was thinking the same thing. Team Bondi may be telling the truth about that, but now they’ve said it, it’ll be the new excuse for all day one dlc now.

      and for the guys irritated with constant referring to Rockstar and not Team Bondi; it will be the name “Rockstar” alone selling this game. Yes they deserve credit and it’s likely to be an incredibly good game with fantastic technology behind it, but when it comes to the masses of consumer audience that buy games like GTA and COD by the millions they are not the kind of people who go, “You know I’m just dying to play a 1930’s crime thriller with little action.” But they will buy, “That game made by the same people who did GTA and RDR!”

      Hell if you ask me, it’s the same thing with RDR. You can’t convince me people were totally into wild-west games; Call of Juarez would have sold bucket loads. It didn’t and RDR did because it’s, “That pretty good wild-west game from THE MAKERS OF GRAND THEFT AUTO! OH GOD TAKE ALL MY MONEY!”

  • Maybe I’ll wait for the Games on Demand version. I wonder how that will handle the disc swaps.

  • If you think about this realistically for a moment, you will probably find you will do MORE of the following, than any disc swapping, in L.A. Noire

    -Looking at the map in the pause menu and placing custom markers.

    -Eating hot-dogs.

    -Waiting for Cole to crawl out of car you just rolled onto its roof.

    -Swapping clothes or suits.

    -Sitting in a cab or train

    I would even bet if you totalled the amount of time you simply watched the animation of getting in and out of cars during your play through, it’s be longer than any time you spent swapping discs.

    If the concept of swapping out the disc is so offensive to you, for the love of god, don’t buy a Kinect.

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