Aug 19, 2013

Book Review: Awakening: The Art of Halo 4

Hello and welcome to my review of Awakening: The Art of Halo 4, published by Titan Books. First off let me say that I am not, nor have I ever been a big Halo fan boy. While I do purchase and enjoy the Halo series of games, you will not see me bleary eyed and grinding levels in multiplayer death match at 3am on a Wednesday night. 

For those who may have been previously unaware, the video games studio Bungie had been making the Halo series since its inception. Now the torch has been passed to 343 Industries, who have created this current episode in what I am assuming is a never ending series of Halo games that will extend to the end of days. With a new game studio, comes an art team with a fresh new take on the material. This new direction and palatable excitement felt by this art team is an immediate standout point in this book.

As with other “Art Of” Books, this one has a usual break down of concept art, 2D Production/Marketing art and 3D assets. The book has a robust offering in each of these areas and the viewer gets to a see a real mix of production quality illustration, down to very quick and dirty concepts.  As a video game artist myself, I always dislike when books gloss over the development process by making it look like every concept artist has the luxury of sitting around and creating 30 hour illustrations for use as concept art. The truth is that no doubt, this art team was pumping the images out at a fever pace and it really shows.

The book breaks down the visual style by the various races; the UNSC, the Covenant and the Forerunners. By this stage the Halo series, the aesthetic of the UNSC and their classic enemy the Covenant is very well established. The art team added nice additions to these classic looks, with updated armor styles for the multiplayer and improved weapon and vehicle design.

The Forerunner visual style is a welcome addition to the Halo universe and is nicely showcased in the book. Hi tech and angular lines, mixed with an orange and grey color pallet that tie it altogether.
As someone whom also works in 3D as well, I wish that the book had contained more 3d assets in terms of ZBrush sculpts and the like. This is something that you tend to see much more in animated movie “Making Of” books, and would be nice to see more of in these video game genre books as well.

Awakening: The Art of Halo 4 is certainly a welcome addition to my personal collection and is definitely for you, if you are a Halo Fan boy/girl, a collector of video game concept art books or just a lover of high quality genre art in general.