Halo:The Art of Building Worlds – The Great Journey is 190 pages of Halo fan service celebrating 10 years of everything Halo. The book is published by Titan Books and includes everything from beautiful concept art to sketches of some of the most well-known characters of the Halo series, all bound together in a 301 mm x 228 mm Hardback book – peel back the cover leaf to reveal a hidden embossing!

The artwork is truly stunning and fans of the series will be in awe by the amount of work that artists have put into the franchise, over 400 pieces of work from artists such as Isaac Hannaford, Shi Kai Wang, Frank Capezzuto and Jaime Jones. I feel that the book will appeal to those that have a love and understanding of concept art – you don’t have to be a fan of Halo to appreciate, admire and enjoy the artwork that fills the books pages.

The book includes an excellent foreword by one of the leading lights of the Halo franchise, Frank O’Connor, before going onto an introduction to the book itself. On the following pages the words serve merely as extended picture captions and explain what’s shown on the page, they’re worth a read though, some things you will know but you will also learn some new things. Overall the artwork speaks for itself and needs no explanation. Beautiful double-page concept art break up pages of sketches, concepts and storyboards which take you through a journey of Halo’s 10 year history.

The seven chapters of the book cover not only artwork from the excellent games but also from the fiction books and the short animated films. I can only begin to imagine how much work and time is included in this book’s artwork. Looking over the many images contained within the book it really does take me back over the 10 years I’ve been playing and enjoying the games and I can’t stress enough that there is so much enjoyment to be had in this book for fans who appreciate and enjoy looking at concept art.

Opening with a review of how it all began — the Forerunners, their weapons and their worlds, the Ark, the ringworlds, and “The Silent Cartographer,” We Are Their Instruments delves into the design of the covenant forces — in turn, the elites, jackals, skirmishers, brutes, grunts and hunters take centre stage. Truth and Reconciliation and High Charity form the centrepieces for an overview of Covenant technology, with details on the designs for the corvettes and Scarabs, the Covenant ground fleet—and the fall of Reach—plus dropships, Phantoms, Spirits, Banshees and many more. Then it’s time to face The Flood. Discover the artists who brought the horror of The Flood to life, who detailed the pureforms, the attacks, the spread of infection and the awesome ultimate parasite, the Gravemind.

Welcome to the Corps introduces the heroes of Halo and collects the artists’ thoughts behind the designs of the UNSC troops, Cortana and Dr Halsey, Jacob and Miranda Keyes, and Lord Hood. UNSC weaponry, designs and details for the marines, Spartans and ODST, plus Warthog & Scorpion concepts, and a look at UNSC air power culminates in stunning Pillar of Autumn pieces. Of course, he gets his own chapter. The Master Chief. The artists who created this seminal hero reveal the secrets of the Master Chiefs’ development through a stunning array of artworks, early concept sketches and death-defying action shots.

Concluding with the visualisations of the Halo homeworlds, Halo: The Great Journey: The Art of Building Worlds reveals the designs behind Reach, Harvest, Arcadia and Earth, with features on Crow’s Nest, Tsavo Highway, the artefact, New Alexandria and New Mombasa, plus Reach wildlife and interiors, and the detailing and designing of worlds under alien attack.

The book is a glorious celebration of Halo, reproduced in high quality, vibrant artwork. Halo: The Art of Building Worlds – The Great Journey is an excellent addition to any fans collection. Retailing at £24.99 I would recommend this book to anyone interested in concept art. Halo fans will find a guilty pleasure in indulging in the games 10 year history by looking over the stunning visuals, some familiar from the games they have played and some familiar in that they have been shown before, but there is an awful lot of work in this book to be enjoyed, most of which I have never seen before.

Halo: The Art of Building Worlds – The Great Journey is available from Titan Books from 21st October 2011.