Awakening: The Art of Halo 4 Enhanced Edition, a digital masterpiece

On my bookcases are dozens of art-books from the games I’ve adorned over my years. All of them remind of a special time-spent, while playing the titles they represent. I wasn’t sure how to feel about an art-book hitting an app store at first, I’ve always wanted everything to become digital as quickly as possible, so I wasn’t quite sure why I was being so traditional about art-books. I had to experience it for myself, so a few downloads later and a few days reading, you can call me Natalie Imbruglia because I’m torn.
Halo 4 is a testament of gaming past within itself, it’s a classic game that has been repainted, restored and refitted for our current generation of the Xbox 360. No doubt the next Xbox will get its own rendition of the franchise as well. It’s one of the best games that Xbox has in its arsenal, and to celebrate Halo 4’s historic launch, there is a new Digital Edition of the art-book that was released with all-new, behind-the-scenes collections and new interactive media content. The whole package is published by Titan Publishing, and if you don’t know their name and you collect art-books, it’s because you aren’t paying attention. The group is one of the foremost publishers of terrific art-books (both traditional and digital now) and they usually represent the best of AAA games.
Without a doubt the collection put forth by Paul Davies will set the bar for all future digital-version Art-Books to come, it’s simply that terrific. There’s video-interviews with the creators who talk about their motivations and designs for the game. The gameplay footage is set against concept art-and other descriptions of the title and pieces. This adds another layer of content that just wouldn’t be possible before the digital age. It’s hard to give up my books but other than taking up space and a thoughtful reminder, I have to admit I don’t go back to them often. As a writer I often go back to videos, gameplay footage and notes to remind me of how I felt about a game while I’m talking about a sequel. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the digital version so much. It’s like a diary of the game, written by the creators and the perfect reminder of what made the title great. The concept art is nothing short of brilliant. I’d like to think that if I sat at a desk long enough I could at least imagine a game-world with so much detail, but it’s rather intimidating.
I loved the addition of the soundtrack set to the gameplay and the galleries. The music of any game I think stands out in each of our minds if we enjoyed the title. I think we could all hum or identify more gameplay soundtracks than we would like to admit, but the inclusion in the digital version was a nice touch. Senior Concept Artist John Liberto, Senior Art Director Kenneth Scott and Lead Character Artist Matt Aldridge offer the most behind-the-scenes insight to the game. Each member of the team talks about their specific role on the project, and what guided them to create their portions of Halo 4. Then there are special moments when a creator talked about his portion ans how it fit in with the game as a whole. It’s a unique process, one that I’m sure is different for every game.
It’s not all a guide though, you are free to jump around to the many sections of the book to seek out your favorite parts. You can browse the galleries (all interactive) including character’s, weapons, settings and other portions of the game that might interest you. A few quick taps or swipes and you get stunning examples of the ships in Halo 4. Just how unique and detailed the designs are )and the awesome ability to zoom in on pictures,) made me really appreciate the digital version. It’s also right there if I ever need it (and a quick screen-grab or two make the perfect addition to my own gallery, should I ever need a reminder or inspiration). I think that’s the “draw” of art-books, the inspiration. The collection within the pages is a perfect reminder, and an excellent tool to get you closer to your favorite game or studio, but the real attraction to me is the inspiration. The idea that with each book I collect better ideas for when I think of my own perfect version of a space-frigate, or a battle cruiser. It gives you more of an understanding about what makes weapon designs work, and what makes them truly unique. Not just for the game you’re reading, but in future games that you will compare. I was wary at first when I thought of what digital books might be like, but I’m happy to say the new editions offer a whole new outlook on the medium, and they aren’t just a digital-print version of the original. They are unique all to their own, only improved in some ways, and classic in others…just like Halo 4 was.
more info: itunes

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