Friday, 28 February 2014

Book review - The Art of Titanfall

Please welcome to Farsight Blogger guest blogger Richard Williams, a fellow gamer, weird stuff enthusiast, writer and a really good friend of mine. Richard has a passion for art books and for a few weeks he'll be sharing his thoughts on some of his favourites.

There are some art books which you can't help getting excited about. Concept art for a game featuring an alien world, giant mech suits, spaceships, free-running, and all the additional material to support such a setting... The Art of Titanfall definitely ticked all the boxes for me. The fact it was being published buy Titan Books, my favourite concept art publisher bar none, gave me cause for relief and raised expectations even higher. The only problem then being my own over-hyping of a product which then can't possibly hope to deliver. I've done it before and it leaves me dissatisfied with the product through no real fault of the publisher. I am pleased to say, however, that this is not the case here.

Titan must have a genie working in the back office somewhere to keep producing work of such quality. And it's a quality that you can see right away before you even open the front cover. The minimalist design of the exterior, giving pride of place to the art, is exactly what's called fort when you've got a picture which tells you what the book is.

Inside the book the layouts are just what I like to see. Plenty of art, descriptive text to go with most of it but never enough words to get in the way, and lots of full page and two page spreads. It's also nice to see more of the development of ideas this time, an improvement on certain previous books and something a lot of other publishers don't bother with, showing the iterations of a design to show you what could have been as well as what eventually was.

This book features the concept art if Iain McCaig (who worked on the Star Wars prequels), James Paick (another favourite of mine), Bruno Werneck, Steve Burg, Paul Christopher, Matt Codd, Harrison Fong, James Oxford and Manuel Plank-Jorge. Some names in there you might recognise and others worth looking out for in future because they have produced work of exceptional quality and have managed to make old ideas look new with a modern polish. I don't envy anyone who has to design original looking starships or robots and I think it's fair to say that the concepts here aren't really changing the shape of science fiction in these areas. They simply give them a damn good make-over and the result is impressive.

I feel more could have been made of the character design section but it's not so lacking that I'd knock the book down a star, especially when there's so much of the other sections to enjoy. I especially liked the environment concepts which really give you a good sense of the mood and also make this far-away sci-fi world very easy to relate to.

In summation I think it's safe to say I'm enjoying this book immensely. The art itself is the kind of work you can stare at for hours and, I know, will inspire other creative types who appreciate this genre. The design, layout and production quality of the book is also first rate.

So who'll want to buy this book? Fans of the game, probably, but mostly lovers of concept art (who will think Christmas has come early) and sci-fi geeks like me. I would say it is definitely worth the money and I would happily have shelled out more for a book of this caliber.