So you have played the game, you enjoy the lore, and still you want more from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. In collaboration with Ubisoft, Titan Books has done just that – brought you more Assassin’s Creed with the latest installment of their Art of Assassin’s Creed book, The Art of Assassin’s Creed III. This book, with authored commentaries by video game industry vet Andy McVittie, contains 144 pages of beautiful art from the hit game, Assassin’s Creed III.
One of the new additions to the series was the ability to navigate landscapes not just on foot or horseback, but also using nature itself. The main protagonist, Connor, is able to use the trees and foliage for a stylized form of travel and as a tactical advantage in hunting and assassinations. The hardcover is wrapped with a beautiful slip-cover that shows just that – Connor high in a tree over British troops trekking through a snow-filled landscape. This illustration carries over to the back of the book’s slip-cover but is also accompanied by two samples images of what you can find inside the book. Underneath the slip-cover is the beautiful, clean, white hardcover for the book with a simplistic design showing the Assassin’s Creed III symbol – one on the front and one on the back.
No doubt, the most breathtaking imagery is found within the pages of the book and not just the cover. The book is divided into seven main sections with conceptual art from a few of the locations and time-periods within the game. The sections are:
Each section is filled with vibrant pages of beautiful art work, some spanning two pages and others share space with sometimes up to five illustrations. With hand-drawn and canvas paintings from realistic detailed portraits, character models, weaponry, to impressionistic looks at landscapes, the book provides a variety of art styles that is sure to appeal to a range of palates. Some of my favorite art is from the naval warfare and scenery that takes you across the vast waters. From the deep blues and tips of white on crashing waves, to the intricacies of the ships’ design, these were some of the most breathtaking imageries for me. The art compiled in the book is by a group of about 20 artists. Unfortunately, each illustration is not accompanied by the name of the artist. Instead, a note of thanks is found at the back of the book listing the artists but still does not indicate which work was theirs.
Now while you could spend hours gazing upon the art in the book, do not overlook the few bits of writing found within. Starting with the book’s foreword written by the game’s creative director, Alex Hutchinson, you get a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at what went into the development of the game starting back at the drawing board in February 2010. The other commentaries throughout the book are provided by Andy McVittie who gives us a better understanding of each sketch and piece of concept art. You will learn considerably interesting points from the game’s creation. For example, Connor’s outfit had a bit of an evolution, from a very Native American look to a very British look. Eventually the team had to compromise coming to a balance that would serve the multiracial character, yet staying true to his persona. In addition, a lot of research went into the authenticity and accuracy of the art. While the game is a work of fiction, it is also based on historical events and people, so the creative team went through a lot of research to make sure that the authenticity and accuracy down to shapes and colors used in tribal clothing was correct. What’s more, you find out little tid bits such as the fact that originally, Connor’s tribal leader was drawn to be a man but through research they found that many tribes followed a matriarchal system and thus we came to Connor’s tribal leader found in the game, who was a woman. There are a lot of facts you learn, not only about the game’s creation but also about history in these little comments that really bring the illustrations to life, give a deeper understanding of the game’s creation, and a profound appreciation for the work put into the game and history itself.
The Art of Assassin’s Creed III is a great companion book for fans of the series and for those who appreciate art itself. This jam-packed look at the concept art with commentary, provides a pleasant visual feast along with an appreciation for the creation of the game. There’s nothing technical about the book’s illustrations and descriptive language. It’s simple and it’s easy to follow. You can revisit the natural world, historic battles, view detailed weaponry, character profiles, and more. It’s truly a must-have book for the all-out Assassin’s Creed fan who just can’t get enough of the franchise and everything that surrounds it.
The Art of Assassin’s Creed III is available in a regular edition hardback along with a separate Limited Edition that comes with a glossy laminated slip-case and two signed prints by the artists The Chinh Ngo and Gilles Beloeil.
[Note: A free copy of The Art of Assassin’s Creed III was provided for review by Titan Books]