L.a. noire and the return of an old friend

Today marked the first day that gamers across the nation could plunge into one of many local stores and resurface with a freshly minted copy of Rockstar’s latest opus, L.A. Noire. Within moments of satisfyingly peeling off the plastic wrap, a remarkable fact about the game leaped out at me like a dog through a well placed Resident Evil window. It wasn’t that the game included with it access to downloadable content entitled “The Naked City,” a moniker made all the more “arousing” by the fact that the back of the box tells prophecy of nudity within. Even the always encapsulating Rockstar instruction manuals weren’t the source of my suddenly alerted attention. No, in fact it was the disc. Or should I say discs, plural.

If you hadn’t heard until now, let me be the first to break the news to you that L.A. Noire ships for the 360 with not one, not two, but three discs comprised of content. At first glance, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. You mean I paid sixty big ones – or in this case, copies of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and MLB 2K11 – to play part of my game, only to be forced out of my chair at a certain point to make a run for the console and replace the disc? Ludicrous! It was once this appallingly lazy sentiment finished running its course through my mind that I came to one final realization. Not only is the inclusion of multiple discs not entirely a bad thing, it is, in fact, a great thing through the rose colored vision of nostalgia.

Growing up there were always two questions the kids at school would ask. The first being if I had ever personally obtained a Hertz Donut, which when greeted with an affirmative answer entitled me to one punch to the arm and a horrendous one-liner. The second, however, was never centered around fear, violence, and puns. It was a simple prompt: which disc of Final Fantasy are you on? There were few facts more guaranteed to catapult you to nerd stardom in the neighborhood than having climbed the menacing peak of one of the many discs of a Playstation 1 Final Fantasy game. Having never personally surmounted a disc, I could only look upon my more successful peers with the grandest dose of adoration. I once had a friend tell me he beat Final Fantasy VII, and the hug that followed was so filled with warmth and admiration one would have thought it was that of one shared between a married couple.

Another bonus of multiple discs: the anticipation for one’s conclusion.

Generations evolved and the need for such extravagant amounts of discs began to fade away. The Gamecube, Nintendo’s first foray into disc-based entertainment, quickly became a bastion for the last titles of this nature. Tales of Symphonia, an otherwise mediocre romp through a cliched anime narrative, was instantly elevated upon the revelation that it would span over two discs. Being a relatively easy affair, I pounced the game and quickly conquered the ominously sized game. Despite not being a stellar experience, I held near and dear my experience with my game. It wasn’t the connections I had made with Lloyd or Kratos (not the one that kills everything in sight, one who just kills some of the things in sight), but instead the joy produced when I had traversed through a game so massive it couldn’t even be fit onto one disc.

As that era was left by the wayside, so too was any acceptance for a game composed over multiple discs. That’s not to say it never happened anymore: Square Enix found it rather difficult to abandon old ways, releasing both Lost Odyssey and Final Fantasy XIII on many a disc more than the modern gamer was used to seeing. The problem was, though, that it seemed only Square was sticking to this prehistoric method. I pined for the days when other companies whose games I actually enjoyed might put out such a product.

In that respect, L.A. Noire became the answers to my prayers. Though I may find it difficult to topple a plodding RPG in the vein of Square, a quicker-paced Rockstar campaign is right up my alley. Now, upon completion, I won’t only be overjoyed to have finished yet another excellent output from the notorious developer. I’ll also be able to rejoice in the defeat of a game so monstrous in size that it could only be put out on three discs.

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