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Paul Davies | Awakening: The Art of Halo 4 (Titan Books)

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For fans of Halo, Awakening is a chance to gets a behind-the-scenes look at the playground laid out for their enjoyment.

 

 

192 pages, full color. Titan Books, 2012. $34.95 (hardcover).
 
“I don’t know about art, but I know what I like.” This was much my experience when I looked through Awakening: The Art of Halo 4, the companion book to the latest installment in the infamous first-person shooting video game series Halo.
 
Awakening explores worlds and environments that cannot be truly appreciated within the confines and parameters of the game. When your objective is to sneak around and blast someone else in the head, it’s hard to take the time to really appreciate the heights of the towers, the majesty of the futuristic machinery, or simply the sheer scope of the field that acts as every player’s virtual hunting ground.
 
However, if landscapes aren’t your thing, Awakening has plenty of other awesome illustrations to enjoy. The book contains sketches of every major weapon, vehicle, as well as every character and their armor rendered in exquisite detail. As with most video game concept art books, the reader gets to see all of the various rough drafts and variations of the artists’ creations as they slowly drew a life of their own. This also includes bits and pieces of the art developers’ thoughts in small paragraphs scattered about each section.
 
The variety of the art mediums represented on the page is impressive. Awakening is filled with sketches, paintings, still images of digital 3D renderings, and even clay models. With each page turned, the reader is given a glimpse into the entire step-by-step development process. Everything is included, from preproduction artwork to the final drafts. This is especially true of the character concept pages, where story and art merge into one seamless, magnificent, abstract entity. Although the Halo series has long been known as an elaborate and detailed multiplayer first-person shooting game, any player who’s spent the time on the one-player campaigns can vouch for the fact that these games have a rich back story. Every character has a history as well as trials they have to overcome, and that shows even in the earliest stages.
 
For fans of Halo, Awakening is a chance to gets a behind-the-scenes look at the playground laid out for their enjoyment. For people coming to it with fresh eyes, it’s a chance to see world building at its finest. As one of the latter, my final thought after setting this book down was “I don’t know about Halo, but I know what I like, and I like this very much.” | Brent Mueller

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