Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Art of The Last of Us - Art Book Review

Naughty Dog and Dark Horse
184 Pages, July 2013
30.5 x 23.1 x 2 cm

Click on the jump for more

I find it's really hard to be objective about an art book based on a game, because it depends so massively on your opinion of the game.

Having said that if you hated a game would you want to buy the book anyway?

So, as everyone and their dog knows The Last of Us is an amazing game, and the book doesn't disappoint. The book is split into six chapters; Joel and Ellie, The Journey, The Infected, The World, Marketing, American Dreams. 

The book is really well designed. It's a good size, the paper is excellent quality, and the images are crisp and bright. The cover looks great, and spot varnish on the text makes it pop. There is plenty of variety in the layout, including some large scale landscape shots that are truly stunning. There is not a lot of written information, which personally I'm fine with, I hate buying an art book just to find most of the pages are filled with text. What is there is interesting, well written and informative. 

A quick touch on each of the chapters. The first on Joel and Ellie gives a look into the evolution of the characters. It would have been nice to have seen a few more of the facial designs, there are a couple of different versions but the chapter focuses more on costume. There is only really one alternate looked at for Joel; where he has long hair and looks more like a typical action hero. There are a few more alternatives shown for Ellie, but again most of the focus is on costume. 

The second chapter, The Journey, is the largest in the whole book and an absolute joy. It not only goes over each location but also the people encountered; the military, the hunters, secondary characters. There is fantastic variety in the artwork, from early concept designs to more developed CG art. It's a great chapter, stuffed to the gills with stunning art and interesting layouts. 

The chapter on the infected is delightfully grotesque, and it's good to see the different crazy designs that were put forward. It's pretty impressive that the infected are just as creepy on the page as they are in the game. 

The last three chapters are pretty short. The World looks at some of the details that flesh out the game, there are only two sections; signage and weapons. Marketing looks at the promo art produced for the game, and finally American Dreams looks at the graphic novel tie in. It's probably my least favourite chapter, I'm not a fan of the cartoony artwork, but it's only four pages long so no big deal. 

There are perhaps a few things missed out, there is nothing on the actors or the mo-cap, which might have been nice just to touch on. And, as previously mentioned, I would have loved seeing more of the facial designs for Joel and Ellie. However, they're pretty minor gripes.

All in all I'm really impressed with this book; it looks fantastic, is high quality, and has a great amount of detail. It's also a great size so that you feel like you are getting your money's with without being overwhelmed. I would highly recommend this book for fans of the game and fans of game art in general. Overall I'd give it 4.5/5.

For anyone interested in seeing more about the design of The Last of Us there is a fantastic documentary available on YouTube called Grounded: The Making of The Last of Us. It goes into everything from story, to design, casting, mo-cap, music... a great watch.

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