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'The Art of Watch_Dogs' review: The fine art of cyber hacking

Photos taken of The Art of Watch_Dogs book.
Photos taken of The Art of Watch_Dogs book.
Titan Books

The Art of Watch Dogs


As the world more dependent on computers for extraordinary or common tasks, the fear of cyber terrorist attacks rises among those at risk to lose everything. And when that fear rises, it can lead to questionable solutions, such as a government monitoring its citizens' online activities to ensure their safety, at the cost of their privacy. In the Ubisoft-published video game, "Watch_Dogs," players can explore these complex issues through computer hacker Aiden Pearce, as he manipulates the tech-driven city of Chicago for justice or personal gain.

The Art of Watch_Dogs is a detailed look at the open-world game's artwork.
Photo courtesy of Titan Books, used with permission

While the interactivity of "Watch_Dogs" brings a new point of view on the online privacy discussion, the game pushes the commentary further with its artwork. "The Art of Watch_Dogs," published by Titan Books, not only reveals the subtle message behind its art, but proudly displays the talent of those involved with the game.

Totaling 144 pages, "The Art of Watch_Dogs" goes over the visual creation of the game's characters, setting, and computer-inspired imagery. The book's layout stays true to "Watch_Dogs'" technological theme, with pages filled of computer codes and highlighted texts. The computerized layout is appropriate and alluring. Only on rare occasion does the theme hinders the book's readability, such as a green colored paragraph being hard to make out, or certain text placed in easy-to-miss areas. The book itself is well-made with its hardcover body, slick slip-cover, and strong pages. There's low risk of the reader accidentally tearing off a page, or causing any other unintentional damage to the art book.

In regards to characters, the book displays illustrations and computer-rendered art of the game's cast. Early renditions of Aiden Pearce are shown, with comments from Ubisoft on what influenced his design. For example, Pearce's trench-coat look makes it easier for him to be another face in the crowd and emphasizes the game's windy setting. Pearce, and a few of the main cast, get the most detailed look on their art design. For the other memorable individuals in "Watch_Dogs," their standard CG art is provided, along with a summary on who they are.

When it comes to background art, "The Art of Watch_Dogs," shines at its brightest. The artist at Ubisoft took great care in studying Chicago's landscape, while taking a few liberties to push the slight-futuristic vibe of the game in a believable way. Chicago never looked more beautiful, advance, and cruel than in the painted art displayed in this book. Another visual treat presented in the book are the neighborhood murals plastered throughout Chicago, which could be easily missed by the player, as the go from mission to mission. Lastly, "The Art of Watch_Dogs" goes over the use of ASCII coding to create creative images and what the computerized icons in the game mean.

"The Art of Watch_Dogs" is a fine purchase at the suggested retail price of $29.99. It may not be as eye-opening as die hard fans of the game had hoped, but the finalized art and insightful commentary printed in the book makes for an enjoyable read.

A review copy of "The Art of Watch_Dogs" was provided to the author.