Book Review: The Art of Assassin’s Creed 3

To accompany the release of the latest chapter of Ubisoft’s flagship game Titan Books have released The Art of Assassin’s Creed III, showcasing the work of the visual design artists who created the game’s incredible visuals. The result is an expensive feeling hardback packed full with 150 pages of gorgeous, glossy images of preliminary sketches, character and object design and full-scale concept art.

The book is separated into sections beginning with the modern day environments, then moving to the smaller scale design of character, costume, weaponry and other objects, and finally exploring the huge historical locations created for the free-roaming adventure.

What shines from the pages is the sheer amount of work that has gone into making ACIII as authentic an experience as possible. The processes of even the smallest pieces of design are fully explained. A great example of this is the section on Connor’s hidden blades and how meticulously the team perfected the design of the gloves, wrist fittings and blade mechanics to ensure that it would appear completely convincing and natural. The same level of accuracy was insisted on in every aspect of the game from the period costumes to the weaponry to the tiny background detail of tankards and plates.

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The chapters on the environments are probably the most impressive of all. The 18th Century cities of Boston and New York were meticulously researched and reconstructed from historical records and the architecture is authentically reconstructed. The New York map is particularly impressive given that a large section of the city was destroyed by fire in 1776. The concept art for the burnt out ghost down is spectacular and led to one of the most atmospheric and enjoyable environments in the final game. The 30 year timespan of the game is reflected in subtle changes in the design and there are lovingly detailed explanations of the planning behind set piece moments such as the Caribbean Sea skirmishes, and great historical markers such as the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

This book really is a lovely thing. It’s sturdily bound in hardback and oozes quality. The high-grade paper really shows of the vivid colour and energy of the artwork and that artwork really is spectacular, fully showing the progress from ideas to design to final game. In fact it’s all so vivid it’s likely to send you back to your console to explore those locations over again just to see if you can find some of the places planned in the paintings. Even the concepts for the least visited location, the modern day world of Desmond and his team, turn out to be among the most interesting because of the desire to separate it from the worlds of the past by emphasising the extremes of modern architecture, technology and unnatural electric lighting.

The hefty price tag of £25 means that this probably isn’t something anyone will just pick up on the off-chance. You’ll have to either really love Assassin’s Creed III or have a huge interest in art and design to want to shell out for this. That said, if you fall into either category you won’t feel short-changed by this huge, high quality and beautifully presented souvenir.

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