You have to hand it to gamers. No other group of people can become so fixated on their particular brand of entertainment that the rest of reality becomes fuzzy and uninteresting. The weird part is that we gamers tend to obsess so intently that even the gaming-related items that we would probably find interesting go entirely unnoticed. Take box art, for example. When was the last time you were really impressed with a game's cover art? Never?
The problem is that we tend to see boxes as tiny little game-prisons that only get in the way of an enjoyable evening. Once we've jail-broken our latest title, the box quickly finds its way into the nearest trashcan, and the case ends up in a stack of empties that are partially buried under the laundry.
But most publishers spend thousands of dollars developing those logos and pieces of cover art, so in an effort to keep you people from under-appreciating the things that you love, lets take a look at some of the best pieces of box art that the video game industry has ever produced.
A title's cover art isn't something that game journalists typically spend much time thinking about, but that wasn't true for Borderlands. When Gearbox released the Borderlands artwork, it was instantly reposted, retweeted, and otherwise smeared across the Internet.
Some criticized it for being a little too edgy, but, just like many good historical works of art, it manages to be just edgy enough to make its point but not edgy enough to get itself banned. The imagery also gives the viewer a bit of insight into the game's personality and unique graphical style.
The result is pretty impressive. Though, it makes me wonder what Gearbox has in store for the upcoming Borderlands 2 artwork. Chances are pretty good that we're going to be disappointed.
The first BioShock's box art taught us that that gigantic underwater robot-people and devil-eyed little girls are creepy. BioShock 2 uses the same concept for its own cover art, but somehow manages to out-terrify the first one. Perhaps it was the fact that the cover looks cracked, like the Big Daddy is ready to come through the packaging and rip out your spine with its drill hand.
I'm sure that I'm going to take a little bit of flack for this one, but anyone who's questioning my decision doesn't quite understand Virtua Fighter's place in video game history. Sure, the cover has a few compositional problems and it's not exactly going to win a blue ribbon at the county fair, but there are other things that contribute to a good design. I mean, Virtua Fighter is like the Pilot Wings of fighting games, and this cover does a good job communicating that. And, from a design perspective, that's a pretty impressive feat.
When we first see it, we can already tell that it's a significantly less violent type of fighting game than its peers, but we can also tell that it has a unique artistic style and a squeaky new 3D engine. So even if it's not the most attractive thing on the block, I would hesitate before ridiculing it. It contains a level of delicacy that most pieces of cover art don't even come close to matching.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 found a way to take a small vacation from those typical gun and explosion-laden video game covers. By creating this truly unique piece of art, not only does the artist pay homage to several of the game's most important themes, he does it with a sense of style that no other game has managed to match.
Also, is that chick wearing hot pants? Nice.
Has anyone else noticed that the cover art in Grand Theft Auto titles has a sort of Brady-Bunch-meets-Serpico motif going? Don't get me wrong, this isn't a complaint. Actually it's quite the opposite.
GTA titles use a simple, comic-book-styled art direction that typically introduces us to a few of the central characters and familiarizes the player with several of the title's themes and locations. Once you actually get a chance to plug the game into your console, you should have a pretty good idea about what you've gotten yourself in to.