It’s always interesting to see how people react to art books. Some people can’t wait to get their hands on them as they anxiously await a game’s release while others like to look at them after the fact so the vistas and characters aren’t spoiled for them. I received The Art of Assassin’s Creed III almost on the same day that the review copy of the game came to me and I opted for the latter and saved the artwork until after I had experienced Assassin’s Creed III’s gameplay. After going through almost 30 hours in this lush world, it made me appreciate the concept work that went into making it come to life even more.
The Art of Assassin’s Creed III starts off with what one wouldn’t expect, the modern world. Since the interludes of Assassin’s Creed III take place in the modern era with Desmond at the helm, there is a quick exploration of the temple of the First Civilization that Desmond and his team make their base as well as the areas they must venture to recover the keys to power the temple. After that, everything heads back to the American Revolution.
The first part of the past examined are the character explorations. Most interesting is the path taken in finding Connor’s appearance in the game. The team discusses different routes, including the balancing act between Connor’s Native American and British ancestries. Everything from an eagle-like appearance to a much more British soldier look were looked at before reaching Connor’s final look. Also shown are the historical and fictional figures Connor encounters along the way. In a fantastic choice, many of history’s famous figures are presented in a classical painted look, like the portraits one would see of these men in museums or textbooks.
One thing mentioned in pretty much every review of Assassin’s Creed III is just how beautiful the world is, especially the open Forest and Frontier region. Between the wildlife to the design of the trees, The Art of Assassin’s Creed III explores both technical perspectives as well as gorgeously displays artwork that could adorn any wall (if you don’t mind a picture of a bloodstained patch of snow on your wall).
The Art of Assassin’s Creed III actually spends a lot of time exploring both the designs of New York and Boston as well. There is a lot of discussion about both historical accuracy and gameplay functionality too. While the developers wanted to keep the game as realistic as possible, they also made concessions in order to not like the facts get in the way of the game being fun (much like they did with the “accuracy” of the Boston Tea Party during the game). Certain buildings had to be placed in different areas while other’s had to have changes in height in order to accommodate the series’ signature rooftop climbing and running.
One aspect of the game that many people were excited about but never blew me away was the naval battle mechanic. Maybe it has to do with being born and raised on the waters of New England but the ship-centric parts never drew me in while playing the game. The artwork on the other hand though is some of the most impressive of the book. The full page spreads showing the waters of a storm beautifully capture the feel of the New England area during storm season as well as its calmer and more serene moments. If given the chance to purchase any of the original concept art, these would be the pieces I’d flock to instantly.
With the holiday season coming up, this book is a must buy gift for any huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. If someone has ever dressed as one of the assassins for cosplay or purchased the hoodie, they will love this book as a part of their collection. Those who appreciate great concept art will also love to have it shown as a part of their bookshelf. This is also one of the very first examples of video game art set in the American Revolution and could make a great gift for American history buffs even if they aren’t huge gamers.
The Art of Assassin’s Creed III is available now from Titan Books for $29.99.