Microsoft Halo: The Art of Building Worlds (Book)

Review

posted 1/30/2012 by Travis Huinker
other articles by Travis Huinker
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While flipping through the pages of Halo: The Art of Building Worlds, there were frequent recurrences of past memories ranging from storming the beach on the Silent Cartographer to dropping from the skies as an ODST. These spectacular events along with iconic environments, weapons, vehicles, and heroes have defined the admiration behind the Halo universe.

From Titan Books and 343 Industries, Halo: The Art of Building Worlds is a condensed survey of art from Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo Wars, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Legends, and Halo: Reach. Ten years of Halo in a total of 192 pages seems like quite a staggering task with the amount of lore built into the series. The end result is a bit underwhelming, but the journey crafted for fans of Halo should satisfy most with its full spreads of beautiful art.


Beginning the book is a short foreword by Frank O'Connor and after follows an introduction by the book's author Martin Robinson. The book's content includes seven chapters that cover the architecture of the Forerunners, species that comprise the Covenant, the vehicles used by the Covenant, the Flood, USNC characters, weapons, and vehicles, heroes of the series, and lastly the various homeworlds that players visit throughout the games. Popular aspects of the universe, such as Master Chief and the warthog are covered, but as well as minor areas including wildlife and the origin of Grunt backpacks.

Each chapter and page connect with the overall story behind Halo from the fall of Reach to first stepping foot on Installation 04. Halo media other than simply the games are featured, such as images and concept from the individual shorts of Halo Legends. Most pages feature a layout that allows for a large display of artwork along with minor space for text. Other pages feature multiple sketches of aspects from the series, such as two pages dedicated to displaying the variety of Brute armor. The quality of the individual images are quite outstanding when examining details up close. From the glossy paper to the strong binding, this book should endure the test of time on the coffee table of any Halo fan.


The early concepts of Forerunner architecture and Master Chief are some of the highlights awaiting Halo enthusiasts. Throughout the course of the art and behind the scenes descriptions, fans will most likely develop an urge to replay each of the games in the series with the newfound knowledge. There are quite some surprising and odd tidbits of information to learn, such as the Forerunner architecture being inspired by the real-life works of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The selection of art to accompany each chapter provides more than enough eye candy with full page spreads of battles and multiple sketches of USNC weapons.

There a few downsides that readers will come across in the book, some of them due to the scope of the Halo universe being fit into 192 pages. Most of the pages are used to their full potential for displaying art and little room is left over for any text. Since this book's primary purpose is for the art of Halo, most buyers won't regret the decision to only include minor text. However, there are many images that would have benefited greatly from some paragraphs of text describing its purpose and lasting effect on the Halo universe. Every game in the series and even the short films of Halo Legends are included in one way or another, but most games only make a brief appearance. The book could have easily been split into multiple parts allowing for a more complete survey of the Halo universe.

Halo: The Art of Building Worlds is available now online and at  book retailers.
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