The year was 1994 and I was sitting at my computer covered in Dorito crumbs and shattered dreams. After hours of playing XCOM, my entire squad of super soldiers had met their end due to a simple mis-click. Since death in XCOM was permanent, it was time to reload and try again… and again. XCOM: UFO Defense was one of my favorite strategy titles of all time, despite it’s brutal difficulty. For nearly twenty years I’ve been waiting for a proper sequel, and I’m very happy to say that XCOM: Enemy Unknown is that title.
Video games can be the collective artistic work of dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of individuals. The work of creating a solid title often begins behind the scenes at the desk of a concept artist. If you’re a fan of the new Tomb Raider series, or great art for that matter, BradyGames recently released an absolutely stunning book of art based on the Crystal Dynamix Tomb Raider reboot (which is sitting pretty at an 86% Metacritic score). The Art of Survival follows the development of Lara Croft from some of her earliest concept art (there was a monkey involved), to her final finished render. Not simply a book of art, The Art of Survival also features a “director’s commentary” by Senior Art Director Brian Horton, who hand picked each image featured within the hefty 272 page book.
There are a number of images within the book that look so incredibly realistic that some visitors at my house mistook them for photographs. When we finally took the time to read the fine print, we realized that the creepy pictures were in fact renders done by artist Brandon Russell and not actual people.
Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival is all the evidence one would ever need to win the “video games are art” argument. Almost all of the images within its pages are frame worthy. If you’re a fan of Lara’s latest adventure, or simply a fan of great art, Tomb Raider: The Art of Survival is totally worth raiding for.