Summer Book Club Review: The Art of Tom Clancy’s The Division

Welcome to VGBlogger’s Summer Book Club! All summer long, we will be providing weekly book reviews across a wide range of geek favorite categories, including art, comics/graphic novels, fantasy, gaming, and sci-fi, and welcoming you to join in on book discussions in the comments. So whether you’re heading out for a road trip, going on vacation, lounging beach/poolside on a nice sunny day, relaxing inside away from the summer heat, or simply searching for a good read to fill your free time, follow our Summer Book Club for our top picks of what you should be reading during these hot summertime doldrums. Please enjoy!

TheArtOfTheDivision

The Division is a solid game for sure, but it didn’t quite fully deliver on its intriguing narrative premise. However, the indirect visual storytelling of the authentically detailed and atmospheric game world itself helped make up for the rather bland characters and storyline. If nothing else, Ubisoft Massive’s art team, as captured in the 192 glossy pages of The Art of Tom Clancy’s The Division art book, absolutely nailed the idea of storytelling through environment design. (Speaking of The Division companion books, don’t forget to check out the awesome New York Collapse survival guide I reviewed earlier in the year.)

The Division art book is divided into two main categories–Factions (i.e. character art) and New York (i.e. environment art)–plus a smaller section focusing on the Dark Zone. Naturally, the book opens with a spotlight on the SHD Agents first and foremost, including artwork for gear and vanity loadouts, tech accessories like turrets, seeker mines, and the iconic backpack and wristwatch, and different concepts for gender neutral attire variations.

The Factions chapter features design concepts for the Rioters, Cleaners, Rikers, Last Man Battalion, Rogue First Wave Agents, and Joint Task Force. The primary focus is on emphasizing the unique visual identities crafted to distinguish each faction and their corresponding areas of control within the city, from the civilian lawbreaker look of the low-level Rioters, to the blend of orange jumpsuits and prison garb with raided police gear worn by the escaped Riker’s Island inmates, to the cutting-edge weapons and technology of the Last Man Battalion PMC.

[nggallery id=3589]

Much like the game, though, the environmental art for the New York open world is this book’s highlight. All the major locations from the game are covered, including but not limited to Brooklyn, the Police Precinct, Madison Square Garden, Napalm Production Site, Hudson Refugee Camp, Broadway Emporium, Grand Central Checkpoint, Bellevue Hospital. The artwork fully encapsulates the primary theme of the fragility of society in a “Christmas That Never Was” setting, with the hope and festivity of holiday lights and decorations contrasted by the decay, litter, abandonment, and death of the post-pandemic chaos that has transpired.

The artists took great care to layer the environments with elements based on what each scene would have looked like before the outbreak, how it looked immediately after the outbreak, and what it looks like in the present. With the dynamic weather system being among the game’s standout features, it’s nice to see paintings of the same scene compared side by side under different weather and time of day conditions.

A few pages early in the book show storyboard concepts for the ECHO sequences, which look so cool I’d actually love to see a companion comic series illustrated using the same art style. There’s also an interesting section towards the end which showcases graffiti art designed by real street artists, branding and iconography for poster and billboard advertisements created to represent fictionalized companies and products, and things like memorials and missing persons notices, all of which ground the setting in a believable alternate reality scenario.

With The Art of Tom Clancy’s The Division, Titan Books yet again does a wonderful job of pulling gamers behind the scenes for a look at the painstaking creative process that goes into conceptualizing today’s blockbuster titles. The high-end production paintings combined with the thorough developer commentary brings a greater appreciation for The Division‘s rich depth of detail and visual sense of disorder and wonderment.

Buy From: The Art of Tom Clancy’s The Division is now available at Amazon.com for MSRP $39.95.

Disclosure: A review copy for The Art of Tom Clancy’s The Division was provided to VGBlogger.com by Titan Books.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!