Book Review: The Art of Titanfall

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Hype for Titanfall is at a fever pitch as the beta gets underway and the March 11th PC and Xbox One launch draws ever closer. But before the game hits, pay a visit to your favorite purveyor of books and nab a copy of The Art of Titanfall. With a title like Titanfall, it’s only appropriate that this art book comes from publisher Titan Books. Titan has been crushing it on the art book front lately, and this newest release only continues the trend. (New art books are also on the horizon for Thief and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, so watch out!)

We were able to score a review copy and now would like to give you an early peek at what’s inside!

The Art of Titanfall‘s 192 pages, bound by a sleek, black hardcover featuring a silhouette of a Titan and its pilot which appears in full color on the outer dust jacket, are divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 covers the art design behind the Titans and characters (yes, there are characters with identifiable names and faces even though this is a multiplayer game). Chapter 2 shows off all the cool guns and weapons tech featured in the game. Chapter 3 provides a thorough tour of the game’s many map locales. And lastly, Chapter 4 closes things out with a few pages dedicated to the graphic design for in-game signage and billboards, as well as a collection of images showing some of the Titan and pilot maquettes Lead Artist Joel Emslie scratch built during the conceptualization process. There are even a few shots of a real, full-size Titan robot the art team helped make with Daniels Wood Land. It’s pretty damn impressive–though sadly not functional in any way.

My main takeaway from the book is the art team’s strong use of conflicting themes: Large vs. small. Nature vs. technology. Modern vs. futuristic. These constant clashes create an interesting contrast between our current world and a sci-fi future that isn’t so far fetched. Weapons, for example, all seem to have roots in modern military technology and traditional ballistic ammunition, yet there are little flourishes that give the sense that these are familiar weapons as they have evolved years in the future. One of the coolest weapons is the Data Knife, which combines USB data storage functionality with the deadly killing ability of a carbon fiber blade. The same can be said for the Titans themselves–much of their design stems from modern tanks, only in the world of Titanfall technology has advanced to the point that they have been transformed into bipedal, armored killing machines.

Scale is probably the most emphasized theme throughout the book, as there almost always seems to be a little human thrown somewhere into a piece to provide proportional context by showing just how dwarfed human life is compared to the Titans and the world’s grand landscapes and space vistas. Nothing better exemplifies the ambitious scale of the game than the Boneyard, an environment on the planet Leviathan which is home to a breed of creatures of the same name. These Leviathans are absolutely massive, standing atop four long, lanky legs like the tri-pod walkers from War of the Worlds. They even appear to have a pair of tentacles dangling from their faces used for grabbing onto things. The Leviathans are so large (according to the book mountains are but knee-high to these mammoths!) that they don’t appear in the game in full. However, the environment itself is a literal boneyard of Leviathan skeletal remains, with the upward arching bones of ribcages forming barriers and structural foundations for human settlements. It’s all very creepy and prehistoric in nature, which immediately stands out since much of what we have seen of the game so far has looked like fairly standard war-torn cityscapes. Reading this art book will definitely give you a greater impression of the sheer volume and variety of the environments that make up The Frontier. Just thinking about what the maps will be like on some of these planets will amp up your enthusiasm for the game.

Another intriguing revelation is the concept work introducing traditional vehicles, such as armored trucks, drones and various space and aircraft, in addition to organic creatures which appear to be mutated in some way, like a giant alien dragonfly thing and this hulking beast that looks like a four-legged mountain with a forest ecosystem growing on its back. The book doesn’t make it clear whether these are concepts for ideas that didn’t make the final cut, or if they are additional surprises players have to look forward to in the full game. I just know that I haven’t seen any of these things in the pre-release coverage that’s out there at the moment. (I haven’t played the beta though, so correct me if I’m wrong here.) Adding drivable vehicles and the potential encroachment of aggressive monsters to a battlefield already chaotic amidst warring Titans and free-running, wall-hopping, jet-packing soldiers could get absolutely insane.

Haters are quick to shrug Titanfall off as “Call of Duty with giant robots,” but a book like this goes a long way toward squashing such claims like a pesky grunt stomped on by an Ogre-class Titan. Yes, this game is another military multiplayer shooter, but at least from an artistic perspective it appears to be a whole lot more creative, inspired, and unexpected than you may have previously anticipated. Titanfall is not part of an existing universe or a sequel to a previous game or franchise. It is a completely new universe built from scratch by the resurrected ex-Infinity Ward developers at Respawn Entertainment. This is your first chance at a more detailed look at the creative process that went into birthing the world known as The Frontier, its diverse range of planetary systems, its architecture, its technology, its weaponry, and its inhabitants of all life forms. Flipping through the pages is like exploring an uncharted world for the first time; everything is fresh and exciting because it hasn’t been seen before.

The Art of Titanfall is available for $34.95 in a standard edition, as well as a limited edition for $75. The press materials provided with the review copy suggest the book was released on February 11th, but everywhere I look online–including the Titan Books website–points to a publication date of February 25th.

Disclosure: A free review copy of The Art of Titanfall was provided to VGBlogger by Titan Books.

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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!