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Halo: The Great Journey – The Art of Building Worlds

14:2812/10/2011Posted by Simeon PaskellNo Comments

The front cover of Titan Books’ ‘Halo: The Great Journey – The Art of Building Worlds’ sports a small sticker depicting the Master Chief’s iconic Spartan helmet, underneath which are etched two short words – ’10 Years’ – that hold a great deal of significance; Halo: Combat Evolved turning a decade old feels like a genuine landmark, not just for the series, but for videogaming as a whole. Love it or loathe it, the series has arguably done more than any other to shape the tastes of a generation of gamers; it brought PC-quality first-person shooting into the living-room, cemented the popularity of online multiplayer and crafted an epic space opera of proportions challenging even George Lucas at his most imaginative (or, dare we say it, convoluted…). It is Halo’s world – and the series legacy – that The Art of Building Worlds sets about exploring through the visionary artwork that help shape it.

The world that Bungie created ten years ago is one of the most instantly recognisable to have ever inhabited the game space. From the sweeping coastline of The Silent Cartography to the gleaming steel of the Forerunner architecture and smoothly rounded purple Covenant vehicles; to catch even a glimpse of these individual elements is to be instantly transported into the famous green armor of the Master Chief. Such iconic aesthetic designs were created by armies of artists and designers who slaved long and hard to hone their collective vision, to instil depth and meaning into every element of the world and to make it one worth exploring.

‘Halo: The Great Journey – The Art of Building Worlds’ does as admirable job of presenting these labours in a hefty and well presented volume, covering not just the first game but the series as a whole. Though, as the title may suggest, the tone of the supporting text leans towards the reverential it’s still a reasonably interesting read, even if it often comes across as a marketing exercise rather than objective analysis. Sensibly the book opts to keep the chatter to a minimum and instead lets the wonderfully reproduced artwork do the talking.

The 186 pages are broken down in to seven chapters, with each section looking at a different element of Halo’s world; ‘Architects of the Past’ for example explores the architecture and technologies of the Forerunners, while ‘Tools of Conquest’ examines Covenant weaponry and tech. It’s a structure that works well, putting each element under the microscope, pulling it apart and giving you a real appreciation of the amount of thought that has gone into each and every element.

At £25, Halo: The Great Journey – The Art of Building Worlds is most likely aimed the more die-hard end of the Halo-fan spectrum and the book’s glossy presentation and excellently reproduced images will undoubtedly satisfy that particular market. With that being said, those who may have grown tired of Master Chief’s grand space opera will also likely find it to be an interesting (if not particularly analytical) look at the design work underlying and supporting the series. With the Halo: Combat Evolve’s ten-year birthday and 343 Industry’s HD remake around the corner, there’s been no better time to reminisce over the Master Chief’s adventures, and this book makes for a great companion piece as you set about doing so.

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