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Great, Famous, and Controversial Multi-Disc Video Games

This November, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be miniaturized for gamers and put onto one disc. One single, lonely disc. Can that hold oodles of dragons and not burn to ash? I guess we're going to find out.

Are multiple discs such a bad alternative? Sure, switching over can sometimes present a problem when you want to backtrack to a previous, first disc–only area. Physically changing discs can be a hassle, but the act consumes all of one minute of your life. Before you condemn multi-disc games as awful, take care to remember these ten great, famous, and controversial examples.

Metal Gear Solid

You know that game that started one of the best, if not the absolute best, stealth series around? The game that accelerated Hideo Kojima's career as a game director, producer, writer, and designer? Metal Gear Solid is still a prominent franchise today, and guess what it used: two discs. For all its innovation, hidden gameplay discoveries, and devoted fan followings, the game that made a whole genre popular required gamers to do the old disc switch. Players change discs right after the fight with Sniper Wolf on the Snowfield.

Resident Evil 2

Not every multi-disc game cleaves the story in two with separate discs. Some well-known titles ask players to pick between two (or more) characters at the beginning, such as with Resident Evil 2. The mission is the same: kill zombies, investigate Umbrella's no-good antics, and evacuate Raccoon City before it's blown to bits. Players can start out as either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield—a practical choice for male and female gamers. Of course, double the heroes means double the replay value. Leon and Claire sometimes take different paths.


With the release of Shadows of the Damned and the tease of Lollipop Chainsaw, creative mind Suda51 (Goichi Suda) is at the forefront of gaming news these days. Killer7 is one of his most famous works, a rail shooter that sparked controversy about acceptable and unacceptable depictions of sex and violence in the medium—even attracting the unwanted attention of anti-video game activist Jack Thompson, who wanted the rating changed from M (Mature) to AO (Adults Only). It has also been a hot topic in the everlasting "video games are art" debate.

Tales of Symphonia

Another GameCube release with multiple discs in tow is Tales of Symphonia, a favorite for many and one of the few RPGs on the system. Disc 2 continues the 60+ hour adventure and is a more conventional example of multi-disc packaged games. But Tales of Symphonia isn't the only popular role-playing game with more than one disc to its name, as you'll see in a moment.

Final Fantasy VII

Attention gamers everywhere! Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation is not only one of the most beloved games in the series, but also one of the most renowned games in history. But it comes with three discs, meaning if you played the title, you put up with the manual disc change a total of three times at least. Three times! Were you whining about inserting a new disc when you got to watch that awesome cut-scene with Sephiroth standing in flames? No. How about when Cloud turned into even more of a silent protagonist—a vegetable in a wheelchair? I don't think so. I bet you were too excited to care.

Final Fantasy XIII

One of the more recent Final Fantasy games made the news over its multiple discs. Final Fantasy XIII for the Xbox 360 also shipped with three discs. Hardly anyone came to its defense, though, considering the wishy-washy reception of the game by fans and critics alike. FFXIII is one of two Final Fantasy installments to receive a direct sequel, this one's slated for early next year.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: GotY Edition

With Skyrim's arrival just around the corner, let's not forget about its noteworthy predecessor, Oblivion. The Game of the Year edition for the Xbox 360 came with two discs: one for the main game and one for an update and two expansions, Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles. If done right and with fans in mind, multi-disc games can give you more for your money—granted you haven't already spent it upon first release.

Mass Effect 2

One of the more successful and popular series once exclusive to the Xbox 360 is Mass Effect, Bioware's prized creation. The sequel has received a near perfect aggregate score, making it one of the most favorably reviewed games in the medium. Its tremendous success was not the least bit marred by its two-disc release, proving that despite what generation a game comes from, the number of discs in its case matters little.

L.A. Noire

Rockstar's recent detective hit L.A. Noire eventually shipped with one disc for the PlayStation 3 and three for the Xbox 360, but evidently during development it was a whopping six discs long. Talk about a crime scene. Blu-ray is the clear modern champion, able to store massive amounts of data on one shiny disc, but the superior graphic prowess and environmental detail of today's games demand that companies increase their hardware power or suffer more releases with an increasing number of discs. As discussed, multi-disc games don't dent the potential of games to be good, but the future requires a more conservative approach during production time. Microsoft has some catching up to do.

Halo 3: ODST

Finally, one of the biggest properties out there has put the entirety of its multiplayer on a second disc. Halo 3: ODST (short for Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) is one of the best-selling Xbox 360 games worldwide. Multiple discs can serve any number of purposes, from extra modes to updates to expansion packs to a story's conclusion. Secondary or tertiary discs can be a good thing—except when, as in Halo's case, it causes alleged disc read errors that give players short-term grief.

What are your favorite multi-disc games?

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