Please be aware that this may be a long review, but I do hope you, the reader and shopper, enjoy it.
The internet is full of guide books that are extremely helpful and free, which caused issues with specialist guide book manufacturers as an issue of competing was high.
As a gamer, I hardly use a guide book unless necessary, or if the book has more information about the game and/or limited or rare content not available elsewhere.
I usually buy guide books if they are limited or collector editions and if they are of high quality, in terms of being a good book, high quality paper and printing, long lasting and as an artwork supplementing the game itself. I hardly use the books for actual help in games, save for one exception.
Before I review Halo 4 Official Collector's Guide, I want to speak about that exception above.
There is only one guide book that is symbiotically attached to my game whenever I play it; Dark Souls from Future Publishing. Though the guide book was nerfed due to some patches by the developer From Software early on, the book still had a wealth of information in one area that made it a real lifesaver. It is also the most beautiful game guide book I have ever seen, with remarkable typography, extremely well written text and easy to read, high quality artwork (maps and pictures), exceptional stat pages, so on and so forth. It even included links to downloadable videos for certain sections of the game!
The greatest asset of this book, however, is that it emulated the feel and look of the game; dark, brooding and scaled with the difficulty of the game (explaining in further detail as you read deeper into the book the real danger of horrors coming up in the game). The book matched the feel of the game, something I have never seen before.
This book beat my rare Final Fantasy XII Collector's Guide book, and I have many collector/limited edition guide books including Mass Effect 3, Gears of War 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Final Fantasy XIII. Excluding the Final Fantasy XII book, I hardly touched the others as they were decent but standard and were bought for collecting.
Dark Souls guide book, however, is the best I have ever read.
So, this Halo 4 guide book has tough competition, noting that my Dark Souls guide book is simply amazing art book and tool. I will also mention that I have completed Halo 4 on Legendary prior to purchase of this book, and I am an experienced Halo 4 multiplayer gamer.
How does this guide stack up, then?
Let’s start with exclusive: individually numbered collector's guide book (inside bottom left of front-flap), two avatar shirts (male/female), ten War Games dry-erase map cards (useful for players starting out, and very high-quality), constantly updated e-guides available to the purchaser, standard tips on achievements and online medals, MLG Pro strategy guides, and most importantly 48 pages worth of interviews and photos with 343 Industries (henceforth 343i).
Also to make a note, it is obvious that this book was made in very close conjunction between Prima Guides and 343i, just as Future Publishing had done with From Software for Dark Souls.
The hardcover book is embossed with the sphere of the...well, I'll let you find out what that sphere is in the game, but just like a sphere, the embossing goes on to the back flap of the book. The colour is bright and beautiful, and I think it is foil print screened. Excellent.
The pages are all very clean and bright UNSC themed as the games, the text of the book is incredibly easy to read (nice font size and spacing) and multiple bout similar clean, simple typography (fonts) used for specific parts of the guide book.
The book has a flowing nature to it between one campaign level to the next, a brilliant section having information about characters, enemies and vehicles (with brief tidbits in the campaign/multiplayer sections of the guide), and high-resolution pictures/photos.
There are places in the book where there is little text and more pictures, but that may be due to the nature of the game. The map pictures are highly useful, especially to later parts of the game.
In terms of multiplayer, there is a great and useful guide pertaining to the various stats for features of Halo 4 multiplayer, such as Specialisations, Commendations, various skin unlocks, and so on. The commendations are something I will be using, and I wish I had the book earlier for helping me achieve some Specialisations quicker. Easy to read stats and number charts to boot.
The multiplayer guide section is quite interesting. Though I am not a 'try-hard' or 'bumper-jumper' type of player (I play with like-minded friends for a great laugh most of the time, winning is only good if the conversations I have with friends is funny and slapstick), I am surprised by some of the tips presented in the book. Some of these tips are genuinely useful, and I cannot believe that I missed up or never seen those crevices, the speediest way to special weapons, line-of-sight recommendations, and abusing a map by where to jump to gain greater verticality in a map (access higher areas for example).
My favourite part is the interview and behind-the-scenes section of the book; witty, engrossing and delightful.
I still think my Dark Souls guide book matches better in terms of feel and text to that of the game than this Halo 4 guide book does (sometimes feeling a bit standard to a typical guide book), but it not a real negative. As a guide book, it is simple and effective if a little sparse feeling at times.
It is not, however, very competitive at online guides as my Dark Souls guide book is (except for the stat pages in Dark Souls), but does include a nice in-one-place compendium of information about the game and Halo themes.
The online sections of the book are far more useful and more competitive against online guides as it is easier to read and find what you need. The dry-erase map cards are a good match for these sections too.
The interview section is definitely a great feature and bonus, great for collectors such as myself.
Nothing really beats free guides, but you lose out on a beautiful high quality book with simply astounding artwork, nice exclusives, and more information about 343i.
Best of all, this book is handsomely priced; in this context, it beats my Dark Souls book for price/quantity/quality, though as strictly a guide book my Dark Souls guide is the better.
Halo 4 Official Collector's Guide is on par with my Final Fantasy XII Collector's guide book, and is a great steal for an enjoyable read.
Highly recommend. ^_^