As an avid and devoted Mass Effect fan, I wanted to get The Art of the Mass Effect Universe as a permanent keepsake of the genius of this great series of games - after all, there's only so long you can keep them on your hard-drive before tech moves on and you just can't play them any more. As someone who's also very interested in the development and work that goes into making films and games, I was fascinated to learn more about what went into making this very cinematic series. Unfortunately, this book really doesn't cover much of that. Apart from some interesting information in the opening segments about how their designs for key characters changed (ie Saren from something akin to a cloak & cane Disney villain into something more military), the book contains almost no descriptive text at all. That would be fine if the Art promised was copious and large enough to enjoy, but despite a smattering of some gorgeous large images (including many admittedly lovely concepts for the many planets) too many of the pages are filled with crammed and tiny images. In several cases 20-30 rough sketches of pencil drawings of character face designs crowd a page, and though it's interesting to see the design evolve to something close to the final character, in many cases it feels unnecessary. There are also many pages where dozens of images just over an inch long of the differing rifles or equipment are offered. Although colourful and neat, they're far too small for the reader to appreciate the art, and the items can actually be seen far larger, better and in more detail in the real game. Many of the pages simply end up feeling like a collection of dozens of thumbnail images where we wish we could see the art at 3 or 4 times the size to get a handle on the true craftsmanship. It's as if the Bioware guys thought they should throw in as many images as possible, when many fans like myself would have just been grateful for bigger images that they could properly appreciate. In many respects, it feels like a book designed and published by techies, without the aid of a publisher or editor who actually knew how to make the book a better presented and more rounded effort. It's solid, gorgeously printed and glossy, with a solid hardback that feels durable. Unfortunately it's not as impressive as it should be, and could have used a better editor of quality over quantity. Not the send off the series deserved.
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