One thing you must know about me, no matter how much I say I’m going to read something, I likely never do. I’m a collector of books that I’ve mostly never read, and I’m happy with that. But when it comes to what some would call “coffee table books” I can’t help but thumb through them oggling at the information inside. That’s why I love art books so much, whether its of an artists portfolio or a collection of concept art and other drawings from video games. They’re easy to flick through, and often contain brief snippets of information about the subject matter. Titan Books’ The Art of Total War is no different except it not only offers a historical journey through time, but a historical journey through the entire Total War franchise.
From the very beginning you can tell The Art of Total War is not only going to be a visual masterpiece, it’s also going to be a little more than just an inside scoop inside the way The Creative Assembly work, you see this particular book spans the entire Total War history starting with Total War Shogun and ending with Total War Attila, there’s also a brief insight as to what to expect from the future of the franchise with a glimpse at Total War Arena, The Creative Assembly’s free-to-play multiplayer game, it not only takes you on a trip through time, you get to experience how The Creative Assembly has grown, and I totally love that!
What appeals most to me in this book is the history that comes with every game. As you’d expect from a title that uses well-known historical settings and armies, a lot of research goes into each game to ensure its accuracy and to ensure it truly represents the history being portrayed. Even if you’re not overly familiar with the Total War franchise, you can appreciate the little history lessons found within each page covering in great detail the work gone into creating famous wars and events.
It’s not just the games armies and character models which are ripped apart within the pages of the book, you’ll also experience the time taken to recreate the architecture and design of the buildings of each era, the way ships and carriages have been replicated and much more. It’s truly breathtaking to see how much work has gone into a game which essentially sees the player instructing tiny little men and women around a map to destroy thousands of other tiny little men and women.
Along with the games in depth look at different eras, the book itself is also a detailed look at how far The Creative Assembly have come since Total War Shogun. Character models are now more realistic, technology has also improved, so more can be added to each game, and dynamics and mechanics have been shaken up due to new and interesting developments. If you’re a fan of The Creative Assembly then this art book is absolutely the all-you-can-eat Total War buffet.
In amongst the pages upon pages of information about each games’ development, story, and concept is the desert of this buffet; the colourful concept art, the rough sketches, the detailed gorgeous landscapes used for loading screens and menus in the game, all of which are printed on high quality paper bound within this beast of an art book.
As with all of Titan Books’ art books, the quality is sublime, from the mixture of gloss and matt imagery on the book’s outer sleeve, to the simplistic yet classy Total War logo found underneath, as a whole the book is one you’ll always be able to keep a hold of, even if you find it being moved from room to room or in and out of a bookcase.
If you have an interest in history, not only do you get brief summaries of each event or key characters used for the Total War franchise, you also get to discover how The Creative Assembly has grown from a small team working on Total War Shogun, to a absolutely massive studio working on Total War Attila, Total War Arena, and of course Alien Isolation.
So, if you love Total War, then this book is for you. If you like thumbing through art books, regardless of its content, this book is for you. Are you a fan of The Creative Assembly, this book is for you.
I wish I could show you more of the book, as unfortunately the above shots don’t really do the book justice, they’re too fantastic examples of what you’ll find in the book, but there’s much, much more to explore..
You can grab The Art of Total War from Titan Books for £29.99