Saturday, 21 January 2012

REVIEW -- Halo: The Great Journey - The Art of Building Worlds

Halo's artwork has always been some of the best in the industry and this book represents the latest in an increasingly impressive series of Halo art books, this time brought to us by Titan Books and 343Industries.

Take the jump for the full review:

The book features an exhaustive collection of artwork spanning the full Halo canon, from Combat Evolved to Reach and everything in between. 

The artwork is divided into chapters, with each chapter broken into sub-sections; so there's a Covenant chapter (titled “We Are Their Instrument”) which is then broken down into individual sub-sections on Elites, Jackals, Architecture etc. Each sub-section takes you on a journey from the subject's artistic origins, from discarded early concepts through to final artwork as they appear in Reach. Each is accompanied by verbose descriptions of the subject and its place in the Halo universe. 

Interspersed between the luscious eye candy are quotes and insight from the artists themselves, detailing the thought processes they go through and inspirations they draw from whilst crafting the characters, environments and equipment of the Halo universe.
“The book contains snapshots of brave new worlds that Halo has taken us in the past decade, a series of postcard from the furthest reaches of the galaxy that help illustrate the scope and grandeur of the series’ own Great Journey” - Frankie. 
 If you're reading this in the UK then you have three flavours of the book available to you. One of them you may well have gotten with your copy of Halo Anniversary if you pre-ordered at GAME or GameStation, it's a lightweight cut down version of the book, but gives a good sample of what's in store for you in the full fat version. It can be picked up cheaply on eBay if you're keen to get a full set, but doesn't have any extra content compared to its bigger brothers.
The mini edition has some lovely artwork, but is really just a taster of what the full book offers. 

The mid-range version RRPs at £25, but is available from Amazon for under £14. At that price it's hard to argue with what is a wonderful collection of Halo artwork and insight.
Left is the standard edition along with the mini version from GAME. The collector's edition is centre with the its box on the right. 
Finally there is the collector's edition, individually numbered and includes art prints signed by Halo artists Eddie Smith, Sparth, Vitaliy Anikin and Vladimir Nenov. It's limited to a thousand copies worldwide and in the UK is notoriously difficult to get hold of. The actual book itself is the same size as the standard edition and has the same content, but does have a different cover and comes in a swish box. did have exclusivity on it, but unfortunately they're a bunch of idiots. I won't go into the details as it's a long and boring story, but after two months I still hadn't received my book and had to order it direct from the publisher. So if you're wanting to get hold of it go to Titan Books' website, it's £60 including postage. I wouldn't hang about though, they're in very short supply.

At £60 it does at first sound expensive, but when you consider the sort of money other Halo art books can command it could well turn out to be a shrewd investment. Personally, I think the signed prints are worth that on their own, I've wanted a nice print of this Eddie Smith piece for as long as I can remember.

The hand-signed prints are:
• Eddie Smith's Master Chief from Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
• Sparth's Forerunner architecture from the novel, Halo Cryptum (2011)
• Vitaliy Anikin's corridor battle from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (2011)
• Vladimir Nenov's ship interior from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (2011)

All in all the book makes a beautiful addition to any Halo fan's collection. The standard edition is a snip at under £14 including delivery. It's one of the nicest, most lovingly crated video game art books I've read and I can't recommend it enough.
There's a healthy mix of classic pieces we'll all be familiar with and more unusual or even never before seen artwork.

This section features various examples of fauna that never made it into the games. 

 - Cowboy Out.

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