Halo – The Art of Building Worlds
That fauna scurrying past with nimble steps? That exotic undergrowth trampled underfoot? That hulking mechanical behemoth dominating the horizon? They all began life as graphite lines on a piece of paper, something endeavour to appreciate after being reminded of the fact whilst reading Halo: The Art of Building Worlds.
Penned by Eurogamer’s Martin Robinson, this is a comprehensive and hefty tome that’s been carefully put together to present fans with a detailed overview of the Halo series. The hardback contains nearly 200 pages of delectable information, with each chapter exploring a different aspect of the series’ rich universe, from minor characters, factions, vehicles and spaceships to entire planets. Readers are privy to conceptual art and sketches that illustrate how the games’ designers arrived at the final stages whilst simultaneously bringing back your favourite memories of the series.
Given the book’s primary subject of expert and imaginative design, it’s not surprising that the physical item itself has been deftly crafted – with every page being an optical treat, either detailing several pieces of art or beautiful two-page spreads that’ll momentarily stun you before taking your mind off the planet.
Quotes from designers such as Shi Kai Wang explain how they were influenced by science fiction’s vast canon and the processes they went through when creating Halo‘s vibrant universe. For fans who’d like to expand their knowledge of the series to greater levels, the book’s contents are pure nectar – for instance I found it interesting to learn that the series’ ghastly nemesis, the Flood, were conceived as ‘having refined their process of securing hosts through millions of years of trial and error: host sees infection form, host shoulders weapon to defend itself leaving left side of neck exposed – because everyone is right-handed), infection launches itself at exposed area (which also grants access to ribcage)’, hence Flood-infected still share a recognisable form regardless of species, as artist Robt McLees explains.
As gamers, we only ever usually receive the game in its final form (or what passes for it), and whilst we’re aware that a game can take years to create, a book like this is a hefty reminder of the painstaking hours and hard work that go into designing and creating a benchmark series such as Halo.