Review: Art of Titanfall — Needs More Titan

Recently I managed to get my hands on The Art of Titanfall which, for those fellow collectors, is a monster of an artbook. This book was released in hardcover with over 140 pages of full colored concept art, 3D renders and loads of fascinating morsels of info about the designing process.

Looking at the cover, it’s simplistic yet striking enough to grab your attention, although I wish some lighter colors were also used to make the cover stand out even more. Opening the book, I’m greeted to a short but telling Introduction from the game director about the hardships of bringing Titanfall to conception. The page colors themselves should have a bit lighter and more eye-popping, because all this black makes the realistic designs of the world, mechs and weapons sort of meld together and can trick readers into thinking the designs themselves are stale.

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The artbook itself covers the major aspects of the game such as character design, Titans, ships, weapons, monsters, backgrounds and loads more. One of the most stand-out qualities of this book is the examination of every minute detail of the game. For instance, I never realized that the weapon designers actually planned out the bullet paths and loading sequences of the ammunition in order to figure out the proper bullet trajectory for their guns. Even things such as the minute detailing in the transport ships and docking areas are shown. Locations get an extra amount of attention, as one is able to see the intricacies in each area and learn about the lives affected by the war.

It really shows how much thought and effort was put into the world-building even though most gamers playing the title would never see it, and it reminded me of a point made in the foreword by the lead artist about his father, who was a plumber:

All of the work, effort, and craftsmanship would go into something that no one but mice and spiders would ever see. My dad didn’t care that no one would see his work. He still worked his entire life to perfect his craft.

Naturally, I’d expect to see the same level of care given to the humans, given their importance to the plot. Unfortunately, other than a few characters, the rest of the pilots and most of the resistance weren’t extrapolated on much. Disappointing because the designs are very unique and I was honestly looking forward to seeing the backstory and designs of IMC and Militia members alike.

I will say that I’m pleasantly surprised at how ethnically diverse both groups are, and that many of the members are women. It’s refreshing to see that Respawn completely played against the “white bald space marine” type, even with the white main characters.

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Now to move onto the most important feature of the Art of Titanfall — the Titans themselves. These giant robots have believable, intricate and unique designs. Many of their details are actually based off of real military technology, such as the Atlas’s inspiration from current day tanks like the M1A2 Abrams and the FV4034 Challenger 2. Respawn has definitely done their homework in this regard, and it shows loud and clear.

Looking at the overall page allocation of the artbook, it’s surprising to note that only 15 pages out of the 200-page book is dedicated to Titans, which should be the largest section by far with the characters in second. Compare that to the 103 pages devoted to locations featured in the game. I don’t want to say locales are unimportant (because they most definitely aren’t) but that number should have been cut way down. This game isn’t called “Localefall,” and as such the giant mechs should be the starring act.

Also, the placement of the Titans section is a bit strange, as I believe that section should have been put last to give it proper build-up. Having the Titans featured so close to the start of the book makes it feel anti-climatic and gives little reason for the potential reader to even look through the rest, which would be a shame.

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Overall, I enjoyed The Art of Titanfall, in both the artistic sense and in the back-history. The issues are definitely not minor, however, and could really effect buying decision — especially for those expecting a loving tribute to the biggest part of the game, the Titans themselves. If you’re someone who’s heavily into world-building and the minute detailing of those world, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, considering the hefty price, I’d strongly recommend you to glance through and see if it’s right for you.

You can check out our DualShockers review of Titanfall here.

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