BOOK REVIEW: Ballistic Publishing's The Art of God of War III
Kratos and crew never looked so good...
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No doubt Sony's God of War video game franchise is one of the most popular video game series to come along in years. And with the release of God of War III last year and its interesting setting, intricate story, intriguing characters, and awesome hack-n-slash action, God of War III has become a fan-favorite.
Now, thanks to Ballistic Publishing, comes an art book for those who want to know more about what went into the creation of the amazing conclusion to what has become one of the most popular games on Playstation 3: The Art of God of War III.
Featuring an editorial introduction by Ballistic publisher Daniel Wade, a foreword by Game Director Stig Asmussen, and a short retrospective by lead Art Director Ken Feldman, The Art of God of War III begins its exploration of the game's artistic creation in style. Each creator's story helps introduce us to the world of God of War through their eyes, relating their experience as well as their love of the game and its protagonist, Kratos. These page-long introductions help us frame the included art, be it storyboards, character sketches, ZBrush models, environmental sketches, or concept art.
The book itself is broken into sections, each featuring plenty of editorial to help readers better understand not only what they're looking at, but also how it was created, why it was created, and - if it wasn't used in the game - why it was left out and if we'll ever see it on-screen.
The book begins with Concept Art: Storyboards, which features plenty of frame-by-frame sketches and drawings which helped give life and order to the short cinema scenes players experience while playing the game.
Next, readers are lead into Key Art: Marketing, which features images most readers will instantly recognize from the covers of magazines like Game Informer and PlayStation Magazine as well as from advertising, commercials and the like. It is this artwork with which readers will most readily relate as not only have these paintings, drawings, sketches and computer-generated images been seen before, but these feature what most would call "commercial" artwork. From a scene of Kratos fighting a minotaur to a static poses of our anti-hero holding his flaming blades, ready to cut and fray; it is these images which speak of the game in a complete and consistent way to those who've played and not played the game.
The next, longer section will be one which impresses most readers looking to find out more about the characters. Within Concept Art: Characters readers find everything from sketches and drawings to full-color paintings and ZBrush models of the game's characters. Everyone from main characters like Kratos, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades and Gaia (below), to minor characters, monsters and minions like the Legionarries, the Olypic Archers, Poseidon's Princess, and the evil monsters are featured here. Most impressive, readers are allowed to see the progression in design of many of these characters from rough sketches done hastily and without detail to finely detailed paintings and CGI models used within the game. This provides a "behind-the-scenes" experience for readers, allowing them the opportunity to watch - quite literally - as these characters change and progress from concept to creation.
The next section, Production Art: 3D Characters, provides readers a look at the actual 3D models used to bring each on-screen character to life. Both clay sculptures and computer 3D image programs were used to design these characters, providing artists with three dimensional reference for in-game use. Characters like the Centaur, the Olympus Army, the Satyr, and other monsters are given plenty of attention here, providing readers with a look not only at how the creatures were made, but also why different attributes were given to each of them. This is done through editorial commentary provided by the actual artists who worked on the game, including Cecil Kim, Izzy, Tyler Breon, Peter Tumminello, Kevin Anderson and others.
For those who enjoy the variety of fighting utensils featured in God of War III, this next section will be your favorite. In Concept Art: Weapons/Props, readers will find sketches, 3D models, and paintings of everything from Kratos' Blades of Exile, Hercules' Cestus (above), and Zeus' Blade of Olympus to Hermes' boots, the Claws of Hades, and Cronos' Harness. Each is given plenty of attention as well as various angles, all the while featuring editorial commentary from artists who worked on the weapons and props.
The last two sections go hand-in-hand and feature the many amazing settings from the game. Both Concept Art: Environments and Production Art: Environments give readers a look at both the early sketches and designs of the game's settings as well as the finished computer-generated products used in the gameplay. The amazing part of these sections is the use of scale and how, through scale, players are truly thrust into an over-the-top Greece, filled with mountains, canyons, caves, palaces, and more. From Hades' arena and the Skydomes of Tartarus to the Mt. Olympus and it's beautiful vistas, each and every setting is explored to provide readers, players and fans a reason to reminisce.
Overall, Ballistic Publishing's The Art of God of War III is well worth checking out. For die-hard fans of the game, there's no better source for behind-the-scenes info and artwork. Straight from the creator's mouths comes a wealth of information regarding the design and creation of Kratos' amazing world. Likewise, for fans of video game art books, this is a keeper. It features over 270 pages of artwork, well over 600 images total, and 100 never before seen images which didn't appear in the game.
Be sure to check out Ballastic Publishing's The Art of God of War III for more information on this and other awesome art books.
- Jess C. Horsley
- God of War III images (C) Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC.