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Book review: The Art of Gears of War 3

Thursday, June 14th, 2012 | Posted by Fernando Caire

Epic Games’ Gears of War titles look so lovely, it’s often tempting to stare at the scenery rather than fighting off the Locust Horde. Thankfully, Ballistic Publishing’s collection of art from Gears of War 3 offers a way to savour the details without getting killed so frequently, says Fernando Caire.

Besides introducing me to the inexhaustible pleasure of chainsawing my enemies in half, Epic Games’ Gears of War was the first Xbox 360 title to make me realize we were truly in a new age of gaming. Instead of proceeding with my missions, I would instead stare at the textures on the walls, the micro-detailing on characters, the beautifully designed architecture and the seemingly infinite alien environments. These distractions more often than not resulted in my immediate death, but that’s not something you can hold against the game itself.

A franchise that has always pushed the envelope in videogame graphics deserves further scrutiny, and that’s precisely what Ballistic Publishing has done with the latest in its Art of Game series of books: The Art of Gears of War 3.

With 320 pages to fill, you could be forgiven for thinking that Ballistic might have struggled to find enough suitable artwork. Luckily, this is not the case. This massive collection of material includes every design you would want from the game and provides a few surprises too. You could even be tempted to say that Ballistic has gone above and beyond the Call of Duty, if that wasn’t a completely different set of games.

Strength in depth
The book is broken up into two parts: concept art and production art. The production art section focuses on in-game models and textures, whereas the concept art section provides preliminary drawings and paintings. Both are broken up into five sub-sections, focusing on characters, monsters, weapons, vehicles and environments. Each contains an equal amount of artwork so none feel like they are overpowering the others.

So how does the art actually look? Amazing, to say the least. Every weapon, character, and environment has such minute detailing – seen to full effect in the turnarounds of the 3D models – that it is hard to believe they would actually work in a game.

The concept art section explores the process of drawing out a character step by step, and includes some great designs that didn’t make it into the final product. (Game balance issues aside, how cool would it have been to be to have a crossbow that fires bouncing buzzsaws at the enemies?)

Despite the amount of artwork packed into each page, there is still room for descriptions and notes from the production artists. The resulting insight into to the design process, particularly why particular things didn’t make the cut, is a further bonus.

The best collection of game art ever published?
I can’t stress enough how great this book is. Granted, I’m a complete fanboy for this game and may be biased, but even if you have never played Gears of War, this is still a great resource for any artist. The concept designs are sharp and the final production art is just as impressive: gritty, detailed, and ranging in scope from military hardware to fantastic creatures.

I’ve looked at a lot of videogame production artwork over the years, but The Art of Gears of War 3 is the best collection of it I’ve seen in one place. Epic’s artists created some of the most detailed and unique designs seen in any modern game, and now Ballistic has produced a beautifully produced book to match.

The Art of Gears of War 3 is now available to pre-order. The Soft Cover edition costs $65 and the leatherbound special edition costs $129, but pricing has yet to be announced for the exclusive Folio edition.

Pre-order The Art of Gears of War 3 on Amazon.com

Pre-order the Special Leather and Folio editions on the Ballistic Publishing website

Browse a gallery of images from The Art of Gears of War 3

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