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Split Feelings on This One
on April 25, 2013
Before this, the only other artbook I've gotten was "The Art of Mass Effect", so that's where most of my reference will be to when reviewing this book ...
The presentation, both in the material of the book itself, and the general design layout of the pages is top-notch; no complaints there. And I love any hardback with thick, crisp, gloss pages, so major kudos there. On that and the number of sections and the quality of the illustrations, I would almost give this book a 4 star review.
However, there's a couple of general disappointments.
First, I like my artbooks to be a good balance of original concept drawings and explainations on the thought process that drove those illustrations and concepts. This book does that, but only so often, and when it does, it tends to be rather sparse. Additionally, it tends to show just an illustration of what you can already see in pixels in the games themselves ... I don't want that; I want to see what I CAN'T see in the game, the stuff that DIDN'T make it into the game, the stuff that was so crazy and imaginative it was considered, but ultimately cut. My second complaint is related to this, in that I feel like many of the illustrations and paragraphs are filler material. There are several 2 page spreads with (admittedly cool) illustrations, but not of stuff that is ultimately spectacular or original looking; most of these, again, tend to be illustrations of what's in the game. Going with this are paragraphs that tend to ramble a bit, to the point that a few 3 or 4 paragraph bits end up really only telling you one or two things. I would prefer these paragraphs to be focused more on describing actual developmental processes and how the various objects, vehicles, settings, and Necromorphs were inspired and created, and less about people's feelings or what was going on in their life at that time, or (in a few instances) just describing what I can see by moving my eyes to the opposite page ...
Don't get me wrong: this is ultimately a good quality book of good quality illustrations and artbook. And there are various discussions about how things like Isaac's armor was inspired, developed, and re-developed, or the ideas that went into various settings, or the inspirations for various Necromorphs. Further, there is a decent number of "progress" collections --- sets of quick sketches showing how a concept evolved. But for almost every one of these that occur, two or three other interesting subjects are skimmed over. Ultimately, this book could have been compiled and written better.