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Merrick here...

...with a few thoughts on HALO: THE ART OF BUILDING WORLDS from our friends over at Titan Books.  

I've never been a particularly gifted HALO player, but the games hold a very special place in my heart nonetheless.  HALO 2 was the first video game I played all the way through with my now teenage son.  I'll never forget blowing the crap out of mutants on H2 helped to alleviate the stress of my impending introduction to my Significant Other's intimidating parents.   At particularly strained juncture in our relationship, my son and I were brought closer again while struggling through HALO 3.   A fun and social evening of HALO REACH was instrumental in my forging a new and meaningful friendship.  The list goes on.  I suck at HALO, but HALO has been very good to me.  

While I was never the HALO player I wanted to be, I always loved the HALOverse.  It's atmosphere, its style, its design. its wholeness.  All of which are beautifully embodied in this book. 


191(ish) pages of remarkable concept art presented on high quality paper, THE ART OF BUILDING WORLDS chronicles ten year of the HALOverse  through concept art, sketches, designs, abundant contextualization from author Martin Robinson (Features Editor at Eurogamer), and a foreword by Frank O'Connor (HALO Franchise Development Developer at 343 Industries).  

The book is offered in this limited Special Edition...

...which is available HERE Titan's site describes the SE thusly:  

This Limited Edition Luxury Art Book is slipcased and comes with four unique prints. The run is limited to 1000 numbered copies.

The hand-signed prints include:
• Eddie Smith’s Master Chief from Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
• Sparth’s Forerunner architecture from the novel, Halo Cryptum (2011)
• Vitaliy Anikin’s corridor battle from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (2011)
• Vladimir Nenov’s ship interior from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (2011)

There's also a standard (but still very nice) edition that is now up for pre-order over at Amazon.  HALO: THE ART OF BUILDING WORLDS arrives tomorrow.
Titan sent over a few sample pieces of artwork from the publication to whet your appetite. Ten years?  Unbelievable.  Here's to ten more...



--- follow Merrick on Twitter ! ---

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 17, 2011, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Love Halo

    by Hey_Kobe_Tell_Me_How_My_Ass_Tastes

    I am a fiend on it

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Back in my day,

    by JumpinJehosaphat

    Video games were called BOOKS! Now books are about video games... so... well, I don't know.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Baby, you had me at "Halo"...

    by Franck

    Great concept book. Anyone knows if there is a movie in the works?

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 10:59 a.m. CST

    by HypeEndsHere

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 11:01 a.m. CST

    Halo has some of the least...

    by jimmy_009

    ...memorable design work I've ever seen from a major video game. Seriously generic stuff, from Major Chief, to the ships, the guns, and the aliens. They look like the boring sum of all action/alien movies ever. The only thing that makes any of the design iconic at all is the green and orange color choice for the suit. In other words, I won't be purchasing this uninspirational book.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 11:28 a.m. CST


    by quicksilver80

    Judging by your post you're clearly NOT a Halo fan. If that's so, why would you even buy a Halo book in the first place?

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 11:54 a.m. CST

    Love Halo

    by phifty2

    The remake of CE should be awesome.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 12:02 p.m. CST


    by ihatetalkbacks

    Irrespective of play machanics Halo is the lowest common denominator in terms of design. It has no flair. It always reminds me of an Apex / Cyborg / Space Truckers style of science fiction, rather than the Aliens or Predator it should be. Everything is easily identifiable and referential - Humvee, Aliens Drop Ship, Starwars rebel ships, Idepenance Day alien designs, Star Ship Troopers soldiers - all check. For a multi million selling franchise it is uninspiring and bland, designed by committee and check list.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 12:10 p.m. CST

    There DEFINITELY needs to be a HALO movie!

    by Chris Moody

    We have been waiting far too long.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 12:28 p.m. CST

    movies inspired by FPS games haven't turned out well at all.

    by hank henshaw

    I guess if they make a Halo movie, they will have to make Master Chief talk and/or interact with a whole bunch of other soldiers. In other words, they would be facing the same problem the Doom movie had in turning the mute marine into a character. Now, if they were to make Master Chief talk with MS Sam voice and use l33t speech like in "Arby n' the Chief" they a Halo movie will be totally worth it.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Um, hello - Tintin review in form the UK? Anyone?

    by Boxcutter He doesn't like the motion-capture dead-eye thing. Bigger budget Zemeckis horror, apparently.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 12:44 p.m. CST

    Master chief wasn't mute.

    by Geomancer21

    He doesn't say much, but he's not mute.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 1:08 p.m. CST


    by jamestewart007

    Kind of a lame review. I got more out of the comments that followed it. Weird how that happens... Thanks for pointing me towards it though!

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 1:11 p.m. CST

    @ hank henshaw:

    by Chris Moody

    Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't speak much in some of his most successful films. So, it is possible that Master Chief can do the same. :-)

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 1:25 p.m. CST

    Halo, this is what I play...oh. I suck at Halo.

    by Tikidonkeypunch

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 2:05 p.m. CST

    awesome book.

    by Alan

  • I agree that it's kinda of generic in most other aspects, but the aliens definitely have some style, especially the Elites, Hunters, and Grunts, and many of the vehicles are quite unique looking. It's just the human stuff that kinda lacks in flair.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 3:04 p.m. CST

    my son and I

    by Mr. Khan

    I married a woman with a child from a previous marriage. He was just the right age to play shooters (young side) when Halo 1 came out. We sort of bonded over the game and have made it a habit of playing each game together. I'm not great but not bad for an old guy. We have played every one of the together before playing alone.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 5:35 p.m. CST

    by Teddy Artery

    Rendering number two has a definite Syd Mead influence.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 6:49 p.m. CST



    Spot on ... The human stuff is straight out of a Jim Cameron movie but everything else is very cool.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 7:14 p.m. CST

    Agree: Human ships and weapons are...

    by Chris Moody

    ...straight out of THE TERMINATOR and AVATAR. Good "real world" stuff though.

  • Oct. 17, 2011, 7:16 p.m. CST

    @ zillabeast:

    by Chris Moody

    The FIRST Halo game was, by far, the best. It was new...exciting...and had a fantastic element of mystery to it. Of course, REACH was great too.

  • and they have harmed the FPS genre a lot.but their multiplayer aspect, although too simplistic (since it is aimed for the console gamers) and a throwback to the late 90s multiplayer game style,it is a lot of fun so i give them that. Now where is the fucking HALO movie? directed by James Cameron since after all the games have ripped off a lot from his ALIENS masterpiece?

  • so i might get that one too.

  • Oct. 18, 2011, 1:58 a.m. CST

    Halo's human designs and tech is fine

    by lv_426

    A bit of an homage/rip-off of the non-glammy type of stuff that Ridley Scott and James Cameron masterfully pioneered in Alien and Aliens, but it works just fine. The Covenant and Forerunner designs are the more exotic of the three design philosophies spread throughout the Haloverse. Also, I have all of the previous Halo art books, and the commentaries in those explain the design concepts and why and how they went about making each culture/species stand out from one another. Covenant - are using and reverse engineering Forerunner tech. Their architecture is aesthetically complex, but also very curvy and flowing. Purples and blues are their primary colors, purple especially inside the Covenant ships to convey a sense of alieness. Forerunner - precise, mathematical, but also elegant and simple. The Forerunner style of architecture blends in with natural landscapes. Human - their stuff was designed to look a bit more down and dirty, functional and utilitarian, whilst also being relatable to the player since they will in essence be playing and experiencing Halo through the human faction. They also acknowledge the human ships, weapons, clothes, and architecture to be heavily influenced by Aliens. I'm paraphrasing, but that is basically the way that three of the four Halo factions were approached by the designers at Bungie. So maybe some of the designs aren't the most =hey look at me!= but the whole fictional reality and design philosophy of Halo was well thought out on not only a how does it look? level, but in how it tells the story and cues the player in on where they are and who they are dealing with. It IS good design.

  • Oct. 18, 2011, 2:05 a.m. CST

    Problem for a HALO movie is...

    by Andrew Coleman

    Fans will get pissed. Studios don't allow Super Heroes to wear masks or helmets for more than like ten minutes in a movie. Master Chief would either have to take his helmet off or be a side kick with another soldier who is a "name" actor. So imagine MC basically teaming up with like Clive Owen, well that might be cool... More like MC teaming up with Justin Timberlake or something. Nerds and gamers would flip but that's the only way it could get made. Unless Bungie forked over like the $270 million it would take to make a movie of that scale. I'd love a straight war story. Never going to happen though. I will say MC leading a group of soldiers wouldn't exactly be terrible though. It could work. Still I doubt it ever happens.

  • Starship Troopers Ringworld Iain M. Banks' Culture novels (the Halo rings are pretty much the same thing as the Orbitals from The Culture, not to mention AI's like 343 Guilty Spark being kinda like a Culture Drone) H.R. Giger's Alien + John Carpenter's The Thing = Halo's The Flood Master Chief is a Spartan II supersoldier, which is called that because the Spartan II program is kind of the future version of how the soldiers of ancient Sparta were raised and trained. The thing is, I think Halo has enough of its own ideas grafted onto the ones that inspired it. And it is pretty great that Halo is sort of a science fiction gateway drug in that it will probably lead players to check out some of the works that influenced it. That is not a bad thing.

  • Oct. 18, 2011, 8:23 a.m. CST

    LV 426

    by ihatetalkbacks

    It does take a lot of cues from ALiens for the human technology. Do you not think that Halo lacks some of the elegance of Camerons designs? The drop ship is clearly a homage to Aliens bit it lacks the elegence of the original version. Halo looks like 1980s Japanese cars. The bits are there but they are not very pretty. There might be a theory about it but there is no actual substance. Compare the aesthetics of some thing like Kill Zone with very mechanical WWII influences - the Helghast are iconic and memorable. Even old games such as Drop Ship on the PS2 had a finer design to them, and the Japanese seem to churn out better mechanical designs every day, look at Metal Gear, Front Mission, Binary Domain, even also rans like Lost Planet. Look at Half life 2 with some streamlined alien designs (and some funny B movie monsters) and memorable characters (the geek everyman central character, the fully clothed female (rare in a game!), the charming robotic side kick.) Halo had a ring world to make and could do nothing more than make it look like the midwest with a few Frank Lloyd Wright towers in it. All the colours are primary in Halo, it has bland flat textures on the models to highlight the homogenous designs. Nothing stands out, nothing moves with grace, nothing feels solid, they are little paper models rather than solid machines. The best design I have seen in it was the earh cities in HaloII that seemed pluasible but well designed, and that was based on earth not an Alien planet.

  • Oct. 18, 2011, 9 a.m. CST


    by Bag_of_Hammers

    The gameplay was solid, but Halo will always be Warhammer 40K lite to me.

  • Oct. 18, 2011, 10:06 a.m. CST

    Halo designs made sense

    by kidicarus

    Human was utilitarian and you can see a logical progression from today's military tech to Halo's UNSC designs. Only problem I had with the series is that for 500 years in the future there doesn't seem to have been a whole lot of technological progress outside of AI and the Spartan program. I can't see how people say the landscapes are bland. After playing Reach on my 60" Plasma set, I can definitely call it one of the most beautiful games made thus far.

  • Oct. 18, 2011, 4:47 p.m. CST


    by lv_426

    Personally, I really like the Forerunner design aesthetic. It is seemingly simple at first glance, but the more you dig in the more you see the complexity of it. Especially now that I've seen some screen shots of the Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary edition. The Forerunners, to me, felt like there architecture was a fusion of maybe a cathedral and the inside of a computer, but not overly texturally complex. I get the sense of spiritual technology when I am in the presence of Forerunner relics. It's hard to describe. Also, I am a fan of the Halo canon beyond just the games (novels, anime, comic books), so maybe I am adding some of my own world building notions to things, sort of filling some of the spaces with influences from the books or something like that? I do love the Killzone games though too. I agree, the Hellghast definitely have a strong World War II aspect to their stuff. I think the Killzone games (especially 2 and 3), are highly underrated games. Not just from a purely graphics and audio perspective, but also from the atmospherics to the feel of being there in a war. The way the weapons feel real and deadly. Killzone seriously puts you in a warzone like few games manage to do. Sure the story is not the stand out feature, but it is no worse than most other AAA FPS games, and certainly better than a lot of them (Call of Duty anyone?).

  • Oct. 18, 2011, 4:49 p.m. CST


    by lv_426

    Reach was truly beautiful. Halo 3 looked good too, but Reach was a pretty big step up, and more along the lines of what I always expected a Halo game to look like on the 360. Halo CE Anniversary is looking nice and lush like Reach did.

  • dfg