I’m sure by now you’ve completed at least one play through of Deus Ex Mankind Divided, and if not…why not? If you have played through the excellent campaign, tackled Jensen’s stories or jumped into the Breach, then you may want to invest in the official guide to get the upper hand for when you take on the one life ‘I never asked for this’ difficulty – better yet – pick up The Art of Deus Ex Universe, which includes a variety of concept work from both Deus Ex titles.
If you’ve an appreciation of art and love the world of Deus Ex as much as I do, then Titan Books’ collection of work from the games is the perfect edition to your collection. The book is introduced with a foreword from Warren Spector, Director of Deus Ex at Ion Storm Austin, which is a nice sentimental touch and an introduction from Jonathan Jacques-Belletête, Executive Art Director of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided / Art Director of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
The book is split into sections – characters, weapons and tech, locations, Breach and in-game adverts – but with no clear signposting you need to be clued up on your Deus Ex knowledge to recognise whether the work was from Human Revolution or Mankind Divided.
Over the 208 pages there are all kinds of artwork to pore over and study from the various stages of the design process – sketches, 3D renders, and alternative character and weapon skins – I found it fascinating to look at the working drawings of the different versions of Adam and then read about how the team came up with each design.
Extended picture captions include further insight into the design process, the challenges that the team faced and how they choose the final design. This insight into what makes it into the game is fascinating and gives a great appreciation for not just all the hard work that goes into the game, but the artistic qualities of every pixel and the thinking that goes into them.
I love seeing how concept artwork comes together, and while some of the pages show working sketches through to finished artwork, I would have preferred to have seen far more of the early roughs, rather than pages of glossy beautiful concept art – although I appreciate that the book would have probably doubled in pagination.
One of the best things about the book is getting a closer look at all the small details that you may have missed while playing the game – like the many excellent posters that are littered throughout the world or the close up details of character costumes and augments. I particularly enjoyed the locations chapter, which I pored over in some detail before returning to the game and going to those same locations.
The Art of Deus Ex Universe is a fantastic collection of artwork that is not only beautiful to look at, but is a great read. The snippets of insight into how the studio put together of the artwork is truly overwhelming and the thinking behind how an object should be designed is quiet surprising – who would have thought such in depth industrial design would go into creating in-game weapons and tech.
Deus Ex Human Revolution is certainly up there for Game of the Year contention, and if like me, you were hooked from the moment Adam jumped down onto the rooftops of Dubai to the point where the credits rolled, then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Art of Deus Ex Universe and become immersed in the world that Eidos-Montréal have created.
New York Times bestselling author Peter David and is well known for his work across comic books, novels, televisions, movies and video games. Peter was the writer behind The Incredible Hulk comics for nearly 12 years and TV shows like Babylon 5 and Young Justice. This isn’t his first novel set within a game universe however. In 2010 Peter wrote The Balverine Order, a novel set between the events of the Fable II and Fable III video games for Xbox 360.
Synopsis / Summary
It is 2555, more than two years after the Master Chief went missing-in-action following a decisive conflict on Installation 00 – the massive, extragalactic Forerunner construct known as the Ark – as part of the final chapter in humanity’s bloody thirty-year struggle against the overwhelming forces of the Covenant. Now, as a tenuous peace exists between the humans and the Elites, a startling scientific discovery is made… and the riddle behind its Forerunner origins could very well seal the fate of the entire galaxy within a matter of weeks. In order to unravel these dangerous secrets, a heroic, hastily formed coalition of humans and Elites must attempt to overcome their differences as they embark on a covert mission back to the Ark—an astonishing, enigmatic place beyond comprehension from which few have returned and where mortal danger awaits them all.
Halo: Hunters in the Dark is the 15th novel-length book in the Halo franchise and the second to be released in 2015. Set in 2555 (two years after the end of Halo 3, the novel follows a joint UNSC/Sangheili expedition to the remains of the Ark to solve a mystery that threatens everyone in the galaxy.
Hunters in the Dark is a solid piece of fiction and an awesome addition to the Halo universe. The story and characters were great and the story was paced pretty well. There are a few minor things that crept up and were slightly annoying. For instance Peter David seems to constantly compare the sounds of the Arks wildlife to purrs and everything consistently seems to be centimetres from characters faces. There are times that the writing seems a little simple in style, but then this occurred rarely and didn’t detract from the story. Another annoyance was the use of flashbacks and extended backstory to explain a character’s actions. Normally this can help add to the overall character and story development, but in this case they are so randomly scattered throughout the novel, many tense and dramatic scenes suddenly come to a halt for a paragraph or two of exposition.
All in all, I recommend Hunters In The Dark to any Halo fan as a worthwhile read. Peter David has made a solid entry in the Halo franchise with this, his first Halo book. If you’ve no interest in the Halo franchise however, I suggest you stay clear.
Halo: Hunters In The Dark was released on the 16th June and is available from Titan Books for £7.99
To coincide with Creative Assembly’s terrifying take on the Alien franchise, Titan Books have released The Art of Alien Isolation, that features extensive behind the scenes commentary from both the artists and creators as well as never-before-seen concept art and 3D renders. If you are already familiar with Titan Books who publish a spectacular range of hardback books to accompany popular game launches, The Art of Alien Isolation is in a familiar style with a Special Edition available signed by artist, Bradley Wright. Compiled by its author, Andy McVittie – this stunning collection of art will be sure to impress fans of the Alien Isolation game that is available in stores right now!
The Art of Alien Isolation will take readers on a journey into the art production of the game itself that focuses on the events fifteen years after the original plot of the classic Alien movie. Containing a stunning display of concept art with detailed creator commentary through-out you will have a comprehensive insight into the Alien world and the Sevastopol Space Station, now a deserted unit home to the chilling Xenomorph’s. Chapters of the book are broken down into Character’s, Weapons, the Space Station, the Xenomorphs and the Storyboarding process that pieced the game into what is fully playable today from SEGA. We do have a full review of the game in process which you should look out for in the coming days ahead.
The book offers an in-depth look at the design and construction of the Sevastopol Space Station, noting how if something could not have been built on the original movie set in 1979 then it has no place in the game. Covering its vast infrastructure and signature three towers, the artists detail the challenges faced on initial concepts and how the games character, Amanda Ripley follows in the footsteps of her mother through the eerie corridors and abandoned vents before a spine chilling face-off with the Xenomorph – the unpredictable, terrifying creature that is the Alien!
The Art of Alien Isolation, really covers a lot of inspiration that was taken from the movie and gives reference to dramatic illustrations from the artists who helped set the tone of the fear factor in the game itself. Referring back to the Sevastopol Space Station, it is meticulously complex in its structure with the ability to house 3000 residents. Now at just a population of just 500, law and order is on the verge of collapse with the art book allowing you to visually see the main three towers in more detail covering the accommodation, the Technical tower and the Science Tower that is home to hospital labs and research facilities. Although for movie buff’s or complete die-hard fans of Alien, you will know that there was four towers in the original space station, and the book gives a great account into how artists and designers broke down each environment, area and concluded that for the game, three main towers were needed for the habitation, science and technology areas with engineering in lower decks.
There is just an incredible story of inter-weaved design processes that you do not get any information about generally with a lack of awareness to the efforts and lengths that skilled artists resort to, to give gamers everything they need to enjoy a game. This book is an eye opener in terms of the complexity and processes applied to delivering the art direction. Not only is the art book beautiful to look at, page after page, but when you learn more about the development process of Alien Isolation, you really begin to appreciate the hard work into creating digital fictional worlds where we take for granted the problematical and challenging situations designers face in the concept process. Without art books like this and many others that Titan Books publish, we may never get the opportunity to see the work previously that went into the development from an artistic perspective. Not only is it a great read if you’ve never even played the game (because the game is not being reviewed by myself personally) but I found the Art of Alien Isolation additionally a great way to compare movie-to-game transitions.
The Art of Alien Isolation is a stunning collection of the art featured in the hit SEGA game and is well presented, documented and a fantastic insight into how everything shapes together to become the dark, horror setting that you will play in the videogame. The book would make an ideal gift for any Alien gaming fan or a superb purchase if you’re looking to expand your collection of gaming memorabilia.
You can search to buy this book online or visit Titan Books website, and look out for our Alien Isolation game review soon!
THIS COMPETITION HAS ENDED AND THE WINNERS WHO WILL RECEIVE THEIR BOOK VIA POST ARE: JADE, JOHN & TRACEY. EMAILS HAVE BEEN SENT OUT REQUESTING AN ADDRESS FOR POSTAGE.
Dragon Age: The Masked Empire, is the latest novel from Patrick Weekes published by TitanBooks. Released on April 8th 2014 and available to buy online. ThisisXbox have very kindly been given three copies of the novel to give out to BioWare fans in the UK (this is for speedy postage reasons) – all you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this page stating why you are a Bioware fan and why you’d like to win!
Three winners will be picked at random and must be UK based, and be willing to provide an email with a postage address only after the selection process. Winners will be announced on this page Wednesday 30th April 2014 before 6pm. The novels will be posted out on Thursday if you reply promptly.
A synopsis of the novel is given below – and good luck to those entering:
Empress Celene of Orlais rose to the throne of the most powerful nation in Thedas through wisdom, wit, and ruthless manipulation. Now, the empire she has guided into an age of enlightenment is threatened from within by imminent war between the templars and the mages, even as rebellion stirs among the downtrodden elves. To save Orlais, Celene must keep her hold on the throne by any means necessary.
Fighting with the legendary skill of the Orlesian Chevaliers, Grand Duke Gaspard has won countless battles for the empire and the empress. But has he fought in vain? As the Circle fails and chaos looms, Gaspard begins to doubt that Celene’s diplomatic approach to the mage problem or the elven uprisings will keep the empire safe. Perhaps it is time for a new leader, one who lives by the tenets of the Chevalier’s Code, to make Orlais strong again.
Briala has been Celene’s handmaid since the two of them were children, subtly using her position to help improve the lives of elves across Orlais. She is Celene’s confidante, spymaster, and lover, but when politics force the empress to choose between the rights of Briala’s people and the Orlesian throne, Briala must in turn decide where her true loyalties lie.
Alliances are forged and promises broken as Celene and Gaspard battle for the throne of Orlais. But in the end, the elves who hide in the forests or starve in the alienages may decide the fate of the masked empire.
Martin Robinson, an award winning journalist and features editor for Eurogamer is back with another entertaining and insightful hardback having previously published ‘Halo: The Art of Building Worlds’ and ‘The Art of Deadspace’ through Titan Books – his latest release is ‘The Art of Castlevania Lords of Shadow’, and it coincided with the retail availability of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 .
The Art of Castlevania Lords of shadow will take readers on a journey into the art production of both the original Lords of Shadow and the sequel, Lords of Shadow 2. Featuring a stunning display of concept art with detailed creator commentary through-out you will have a comprehensive insight into the fantasy world and the minds of the creators behind the popular Konami franchise. The book offers and exclusive look at Gabriel Belmont, the evolution of a legend and how Hideo Kojima helped influence the final design model during Lords of Shadow’s inception to reflect the tragedy that consumed Gabriel’s heart and the emotion that informed his story. As the main protagonist, within the art book it also details the struggles that the design team faced as they aimed to recreate one of the biggest characters for the rebooted franchise taking him from an initially planned barbarian figure to a dark and disturbing Dracula with a sombre disposition.
Further reading will inform you into the thoughts of the well-known Scottish actor, Robert Carlyle who takes on the voice acting of Gabriel and Dracula and how he even helped change the direction of the first ever trailer for Lords of Shadow. If you are a fan of the Castlevania franchise, then The Art of Castlevania will be quite an enlightening read, it may be an ‘art’ book but it’s not all just about the pictures!
There are around thirty pages alone depicting the majority of the Belmont Family and striking art designs of Alucard, who is featured through-out Castlevania’s history, but in Lords of shadow his story was rewritten. Alucard is the inverse of Dracula, he is what becomes of Trevor Belmont and is possessed by the light within to pursue the monstrosity his father has turned into. The Belmont dynasty is shown through both images and text as well as touching on the game, Mirror of Fate, which is part of the Lords of Shadow story released on the Xbox Live Arcade. Following the details of the Belmonts, the book goes further into the imagining of the allies and antagonists within Lords of Shadows. To keep you informed if you haven’t played any of the games – the Lords of Shadows are a collection of Knights whose goal is to purge the land of evil, but eventually they end up becoming part of the evil itself.
From the re-imagining of Carmilla who appeared in the 1987 Castlevania II: Simons Quest to the lack of availability of actor Ian McKellan for Zobek’s voice which then in turn led to the casting Sir Patrick Stewart instead; so much information is covered in the book that you’ll be a Castlevania Lords of Shadow mastermind in no time! The later sections of The Art of Castlevania Lords of Shadow keep you up to speed on how the locations and environments were designed to be grand and part of the fairy-tale wilderness picture postcard settings the developers had in mind from the on-set. The whole artbook depicts a mythical journey and how rich and detailed the design team had to be to re-write the Castlevania history. This book demonstrates the diversity, detail and attention paid to ensuring the spectacular sights are every bit as dark and psychological as per the momentum of Lords of Shadow, building upon the foundation set by the first title and continuing the trends in the latest release, Lords of Shadow 2.
The Art of Castlevania Lords of Shadow is a stunning collection of the art featured in the hit Konami Lords of Shadow franchise and is well presented, documented and a fantastic insight into how everything shapes together to become the dark, horror theme setting that you play in the videogame. The book would make an ideal gift for any Castlevania gaming fan or a superb purchase if you’re looking to expand your collection of gaming memorabilia.
Battlefield 4 has had its fair share of hiccups on both Xbox One and Xbox 360 since launch requiring a number of patches to correct the issues, (which is currently in-progress) but undeniably one of the key features that impress in Battlefield 4, are the striking visuals that hit you face on as soon as you start playing the game from the onset. To give you an understanding of the art direction and how this beautiful visual quality was developed from concept to reality – The Art of Battlefield 4, is available to buy now from Titan Books, and if you’re a fan of Battlefield, this really is a must have addition to accompany the game itself. You might not be a fan of books, or perhaps ever considered buying an art book before – but for the games that you love and enjoy, these art books do not only look great, but it showcases the work of the artists as well as give you some history on your favourite games.
Battlefield has been around for over a decade now, and after many years in the hands of DICE (previously known as Digital Illusions) they finally released a book full of concepts and explain how the first Battlefield game was based on the old PC title Codename Eagle, set to be more evolved and a bigger ambitious project. Thanks to that ambition and a dedicated team it paid off, and Battlefield 1942 was born; a title backed by EA that was way overdue in development time and was a do-or-die project for DICE at that time. Today, Battlefield is the closest competitor to Activision’s Call of Duty (the biggest FPS in the world) and is one of the biggest properties in entertainment for EA Games which started out as a dream from a small group of friends in a cramped Stockholm apartment! It is detail and history like this that you may never know of or thought of, but art books aren’t just stuffed full of pictures. You more often find that interesting details during the development stages are included to as well as things which did not quite make the final cut.
The buildings and cities within Battlefield seem to get bigger and better with each game that is released and evolving architecture has been a part of Battlefield since Bad Company as the Art of Battlefield 4 defines the significant advancements in Battlefield 4. Detailing how whole office blocks and skyscrapers can come tumbling down, how the towns are built up like toy sets prepared in anticipation for the player to run through them knocking down buildings as they go. Although described in more detail through the Dam City chapter of the book, throughout you very much get a feel for how the artists consider the player in every detail. It’s not just about shaping a beautiful game it is also about what the player is expecting to see and how they are expecting even the minor details of a war torn city to appear.
The Art of Battlefield 4 is best described as the ultimate gallery of the latest game in the Battlefield series using sketches, concept art and behind the scenes commentary from the artists to bring to life each mission which is illustrated in astonishing detail. The book will take you in glorious detail down the dark, twisting alleys of Shanghai to snow covered peaks and colossal dams with the games’ art shown in all stages of production including how buildings are destroyed and re-built. Chapters are broken down into geographical areas of Battlefield 4, Characters and Multiplayer. What it does showcase is that if there’s a theme to Battlefield 4, it is that things go very wrong, very quickly and as both a reader and gamer you witness the technical vision and dramatics from the viewpoint of the artists.
Battlefield 4 is a great FPS title which has made a welcome return to offering a solid Multiplayer experience but also giving a memorable Single Player campaign that will have you replaying the mission to get those missing collectibles and is a challenge for experience FPS players. Visually impressive with amazing audio, Battlefield 4 ticks a lot of boxes as an FPS fan and with Xbox One enhancing this experience even more with greater numbers of players online and more refined visuals…
The Art of Battlefield 4 is available to buy now from TitanBooks via this direct link, and would make a great addition to your gaming memorabilia or to gain deeper insight into the development of Battlefield 4 itself. As always, hardcover art books make great gifts for gamers, but The Art of Battlefield 4 is a definite must-have book for any Battlefield fan!
Thanks to TitanBooks for providing thisisxbox.com with The Art of Battlefield 4.
Here at thisisxbox.com we are no stranger to receiving the occasional art book from Titan Books that bode well with accompanying your favourite franchise. Having read every page of Halo: The Art of Building Worlds, The Art of Dead Space, we are pleased to now peruse the pages of The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag in hardback written by Paul Davies (Official Nintendo, CVG).
Whether you are a hardcore fan of Assassin’s Creed or not, there is no denying that the story telling within the franchises’ history from Ubisoft is utterly compelling. It reels you in slowly and uses factual events from the past as modern day entertainment on our consoles, but with some stunning environments of a world that once was; you can only imagine how much detail and planning went into the lavishly depicted environments. This is where an accompanying art book can step in and show you how everything that you have enjoyed playing originated in art form. It also allows the games’ art directors to tell you the concept behind each scene and explain their reasoning for such detail in the interactive environments that we get to see on screen.
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag is a game that is available now on Xbox 360 and shortly for Xbox One, we scored the Xbox 360 edition 8/10 in our review:
One of the best changes to the actual gameplay Ubisoft have made is the tweaks to the infamous tailing sequences—mostly in the form of an overhauled Eagle Vision system. Now, besides seeing the group affiliation of everyone in a crowd, you can also tag your targets. This allows you to see them through walls and buildings so you can follow them from a much farther distance than in previous entries. This can make sneaking around heavily populated enemy islands and forts a lot easier. That said, it can and does feel a little over powered at times. X-ray vision is something just shouldn’t exist in this game, in my opinion. Another change that players will no doubt be thankful for is the new gun mechanics. Much more similar to what we come to expect in traditional third-person-shooter’s, you’ll find it is much easier to use your pistols and pull off headshots.
The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, is broken down into sections relating key elements of the main video game. Starting with ABSTERGO, the concept art for Abstergo Entertainment HQ includes intricate ship structures and Caribbean vegetation to help with a sense of immersion in the new environments of Assassin’s Creed IV. The book shows how Abstergo’s lobby area was originally inspired by Japanese architecture and culture before the nautical themes took more prominence to suit the game’s theme and spirit. You can immediately sense from the concept designs and art that although a small area within the game itself, every single room has to make a connection to the game to give a feel for the conflict between antiquity and modernity. The lab-like ascetics depict well the undertone to Abstergo and perhaps some hidden agenda.
DRAMATIS PERSONAE, highlights the key art for the pirates themselves which make up the characters within the two factions who are embroiled in the secret war between the Templars and the Assassin’s. Key artists who worked on creating the look of the main protagonist Edward Kenway, explain how a young brash character born in Cardiff UK is first a pirate who later becomes an Assassin, how a hero with many complexities was visually inspired by Patrick Swayze in the movie Point Break! The book later details how many of the Pirates were easier to create once a ‘main’ look had been established; it was then a matter of visual patchworks and a mix of uniforms. Graphically the art book details key characters and how their appearance responds to their personality traits from both factions. It proves to be very informative, I didn’t personally review the game for thisisxbox.com, but through the book I have detailed understanding of the story, the characters and the environments featured within it.
A TALE OF THREE CITIES, Art Director Raphael Lacoste retraces the steps of bringing to life three very different cities within Assassin’s Creed IV and touches on the many months creating landscapes and landmarks that feature within the game. Havana, Kingston and Nassau all have outstanding beautiful concept art designs that show how the design team reflect the feeling of order, stormy atmospherics and coastal shallow reef’s to present a pirates life. Old Forts, Shipwrecks, Graveyards and a series of illustrations that were actually used for pitching missions could be framed artwork in their own right! What the art book also interestingly allows you to see is some of the cut environments from the game also – Port au Prince was a whole city entirely cut from the game, but some of the buildings were inspiration for other areas within the main game. With this chapter you get an interesting take on how Port au Prince was a town built on strong slopes. You never know it might return as DLC in the future or a sequel?
Although there are chapters that show the art of exploration and sea battles, the key chapter for me and the highlight of the book itself is PIRATE LIFE, a whole section dedicated to the dramatic settings within Assassin’s Creed IV and how the initial thought of how meeting Blackbeard must have been a breathtaking moment. This for artist Kobe Sek was the most satisfying concept for the project because of the mood that needed to be expressed in design form. This chapter also shows some of the fine weapons, and sailing ships used as concepts which are very detailed in their designs. You can see how the game has evolved from initial thought process to portraying life on the actual ships – how pirates lived, breathed and the tools needed for their piracy operations. The art work in this section is absolutely stunning and it is easy to forget how important that art direction plays in the concept of video game design. The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag will show you many important aspects of the latest video game through the eyes of the art team and how everything pieces together and evolved into what you are likely playing now on your Xbox 360.
The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag is available to buy now from TitanBooks via this direct link, and would make a great addition to your gaming memorabilia or to gain deeper insight into the development of the Black Flag itself. As always hardcover art books make great gifts for gamers and if you’re stuck for a present to buy this Christmas for a gamer, why not make it a book?
Thanks to TitanBooks for providing thisisxbox.com with The Art of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag.
Devil May Cry: The Chronicles of Vergil is a recent hardback comic published by Titan Comics from the work of writer IZU and artist PION, together they have created a graphically detailed insight to a prequel of events in the lead up to the reboot of the videogame from Capcom. We’re no stranger to receiving the odd hardback from Titan Books / Titan Comics and everything published is exceptionally displayed and illustrated to a fantastic quality. IZU has written other Capcom story origin comics such as revisiting Lost Planet in Lost Planet: First Colony.
The Chronicles of Vergil is in short – really quite short for the large scale story it is trying to portray at just 46 pages. It’s also quite muddled jumping the reader into different time periods in such short spaces, by the first four pages alone you have jumped ahead by a year and back again. It portrays the visions that Dante see’s and how the world is controlled by Demons; also how his twin brother Vergil and human psychic Kat take off on a rescue journey to save Dante who is imprisoned in Hellfire.
DmC: The Chronicles of Vergil is a solid story from IZU and will be a great for fans of the game to read how Dante, the games’ protagonist is leading up to a final showdown with the guards of Hellfire – however if you’re not really “into” the Devil May Cry series then you wouldn’t really have a purpose for buying this as the story would just confuse you!
What I will say about Devil May Cry: The Chronicles of Vergil, is that the fantasy style artwork is perfectly illustrating the story, and it’s a shame the comic isn’t longer as I felt the writing to be inconsistent and a little poor in leading the reader to conclusions. There are a few unanswered questions and a really baffling ending that led me to wonder if it was a deliberate attempt to encourage you to buy Volume 2 to piece all the information together – if that too actually makes any sense! It is a really cheap hardback though and would make a great gift for any Devil May Cry fan, but since the comic is only really aimed at the fans I wouldn’t recommend buying it for just anyone, it would be too confusing as you would need to have played the game to make sense of some of the inconsistencies with the written story.
This comic prequel reveals the crucial backstory of the franchise’s hero, Dante, and his twin brother Vergil; with never-before-told revelations about these iconic game characters!
Titan Books are publishing this October “Max Payne 3: The Complete Series” that brings three individual Max Payne comics together as a collection in a hardback print edition for the first time complimented by additional never-before-seen artwork.
Max Payne 3: The Complete Series delves deep into Max’s tormented past to bring his story full circle, completing the narrative thread that binds the events of Max Payne, Max Payne 2 and Max Payne 3 together: from his troubled childhood, to his successes as a young police cadet, to the brutal murder of his wife and child, to the death of his partner, to his ignominious dismissal from the NYPD, to the chance encounter in a Hoboken dive bar that propels him on an ill-fated journey to the streets of São Paulo.
Max Payne 3: The Complete Series hardback print edition will be available at bookstores and via online retailers on October 22nd.