Either Digital Foundry's PlayStation 3 debugging station is in desperate need of a new hard drive or else Mass Effect 2 can take anything up to 52 minutes to install for a relatively paltry 4272MB of data, not including the additional downloaded DLC.
Taken aback somewhat by this record-breaking install time, we decided to investigate and found that the more spare storage available on our drive, the faster the install time. To begin with, an additional 5GB of space was freed up on the 60GB drive and the Mass Effect 2 install was removed, then installed again.
The result was intriguing: the installation time fell to just a few seconds short of 38 minutes, a mammoth 14 minute saving. Freeing up a further 2GB of space on the drive and repeating the process again brought us to 32 minutes - around the same as the "rather unscientific 30 minutes" reported yesterday by TheSixthAxis.
To illustrate the testing, here's a video of each run, sped up by a factor of 100. And with some nice music added.
So what is the game actually installing? Around 2,000 files end up on the PS3 in total: around 50 per cent of the main game data and around 10 per cent of DLC data included on the disc. These are seemingly copied directly from the Blu-ray disc, meaning lots of work from the both optical drive and the hard disk in the transfer process, lengthening the install process. It's not the most efficient way of carrying out business - as evidenced by the recent Gran Turismo 5 install but it is easy for the developer to implement and gets the job done.
However, the difference in install times according to available disc space is something completely new for us, and could have implications for gaming performance too - something we'll be looking at in the near future along with tests on potential replacement drives.