Mass Effect 3 was released in North America earlier this week so it is good timing for ThinkGeek.com to have recently added a new Mass Effect item to their website, a hardcover book titled "Art of the Mass Effect Universe" published by Dark Horse Books. This thing is the mother of all art books. Being that many video games come with an art book when you pre-order them nowadays, I have a lot of gaming art books in my collection. This one is by far the nicest.
It is pretty large at twelve inches tall and almost nine inches wide so it will probably be too big to fit on your bookshelf (standing up anyway). There are 184 pages and each one is filled with full art, character sketches, renders, weapon designs, and more.
Most pages also have a paragraph or two with some information about what is on that particular page. This is a huge draw for fans of the series as it will really enable readers to delve even deeper into the Mass Effect universe and learn some stuff about the games they probably never heard before. For example, here is a quotation from the helmets page in the Mass Effect 1 section:
"We had more concepts for helmets, of all things, than anything else in the Mass Effect universe. We made over 200 types in trying to figure out what Shepard's helmet should look like. We went back and forth between a closed-face helmet, for a more futuristic feel, and an open-faced helmet, similar to those in use by militaries today. We decided to go with the open-faced helmet so that players could see characters' expressions during game conversations." pg. 52
The book is broken down into three main sections; one for each game in the franchise. This makes it easy to flip back and forth and see how some of the character designs changed from game to game. For example, Garrus's armor had many slight modifications that you might not have otherwise picked up on.
The character pages are definitely my favorite part of this art book. It is interesting to see different variations of each character model and early concept sketches which were later fleshed out. There is some awesome full page artwork in the Mass Effect 2 section including full pages of Garrus, Tali'zorah, Grunt, Thane, and Legion. These colorful images are beautiful and easily the best part of the book. The full page Miranda on page 65 is sure to catch many an eye.
The "Art of the Mass Effect Universe" is a fantastic book that will appeal to a wide audience. For diehard fans of the Mass Effect franchise, this is a must-buy. It includes a lot of great information about the games you won't find anywhere else. It is also good for the casual Mass Effect fan or just fans of gaming artwork in general. The book is currently priced at $39.99 over at Thinkgeek and is well worth every penny.
Final score: 5 / 5 stars
(This review was based off a review copy of the book).