TA Top Five: Box Art

By Marc Hollinshead,
We are coming into an age in gaming where downloading content digitally is a completely normal thing to do. It has been for years, but not as much as it is today. Instead of buying a physical copy of a game from a retailer, we are now freely able to purchase a game from our own house without even having to get out of bed. It's fantastic that we have a plethora of titles literally at our fingertips to chose from whenever we fancy forking out cash, but there's something that a digital title can never beat; a physical copy of a game.

Have you ever been thrilled to see a new game in the post that's just waiting to be opened? The feeling of ripping off the wrapping to then open the case and have that new game smell envelop you never gets old. Playing a game straight from our Xbox sure is great and makes it easy for a lot of us, but actually being able to hold a game and see a colourful case greet you heightens the excitement even more. In this week's Top Five, we are going to praise those amazing creations and take a look at some of the most creative pieces of box art that games have to offer.

Honorable Mentions

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Achievements
The Bureau

It's not necessarily the case itself that's the focus here, but what comes with it. Over the main case, you are able to freely remove a sleeve that simply has black blocks and markings all over it. When combined with the actual box art, it creates an effect that fits very well with the actual story behind the game. The team at the Bureau are doing all they can to keep the alien invasion classified, and that even stretches to the game's own case. This signifies that something is being hidden and it hints at the fact that you are unearthing something unusual and secret.

LEGO series

When looking at a game, the first thing you usually see is the case and you want it to give the impression of something fun. All of the LEGO games manage to give us something that attempt to do just that. The series doesn't appeal to everyone, but due to its child friendly nature, the box art of each title never tries to look serious or meaningful. Simply put, they are fun designs and maybe a little chaotic so that kids (and a large number of adults) know what they're in for; a good time of family fun.

Top Five

5. Achievements
Sleeping Dogs

No particular meaning jumps out here, but there's no denying that it's a creative design. No space has been wasted and the art style is pleasing to the eye. The dragon, city, characters and fighting all manage to fit neatly on the cover without looking too chaotic and the colour palette is certainly simplistic. Sticking to red, white and yellow may make the art look ever so slightly dull, but this stops us from thinking that too much is happening at once. It's proof that the designers actually gave this a bit of thought before slapping on the main character's face and leaving it at that.

4. Borderlands Series

There is one simply effect used here and also on recurring instalments that help to make it memorable. All three games in the series so far have had a similar image but switched it up a bit to keep it fresh. A Psycho performing a shooting animation into his head with his own fingers is so easy to create that it sticks with the player. It's a memorable face and there's a LOT of shooting in Borderlands so each piece of box art makes perfect sense. The splattering blood effect with the images inside reiterate that chaotic theme of Borderlands, and while being equally simple and creative, it also hints at the overarching theme of anarchy in the series.

3. Left 4 Dead Series
Left 4 Dead

This is another extremely simple, yet so effective design. It doesn't take a genius to know that these games are about zombies, and lots of them. What better way to tell that to the player than by depicting a mangled hand on the front of the box. With the thumb severed from it, the hand is able to hold up four fingers and mirror the game itself, creating a link to the game's name and its content at the same time. When the second instalment released, Valve wasted no time in recreating the same design but with a twist. The hand still has four fingers and is thumb-less, but two of those fingers are bent down and only two fingers are up, now mirroring the fact that it's the second game in the series. Left 4 Dead is proof that less is more and if Valve understand that the number 3 exists, then maybe we will see another zombified hand in years time.

2. Catherine Achievements

Catherine may be less of a well known game to many gamers in the wider community, but if you ever come across this box in a shop, it will more than likely catch your eye in one way or another. Sure, Katherine and Catherine are easy on the eyes (I'm more of a Katherine man myself - the one with the glasses) but the pictures themselves combined with the choice of colour create a vibrant design that screams out "Play me!" and boy, did it work on me. On closer inspection we see the game's protagonist, Vincent, trapped by both women and a bunch of sheep plummeting to the ground. Without any prior knowledge of the title, the case does an extremely good job of enticing you into buying it as it makes you wonder "What on earth is this game about?". Once you buy the game, you even have the choice of which artwork you want at the forefront by simply flipping the cover over so that's a bonus. People say don't judge a book by its cover, but in this case, you should.

1. Grand Theft Auto Series

When the box art of a series becomes as iconic as GTA, you know that the developers have done something right. Whenever we are gifted with a new title in the long-running series, one of the many things we ponder is "What images will be on the box this time?" Each title follows the same art style - a multitude of pictures depicting random characters and scenarios separated by bold black lines to make a square-like effect. While the box art holds no particular meaning itself, you could say that it portrays the huge scope of each game. GTA is one of, if not THE most successful game series created and the box art is almost like an advertisement in itself. When you see that specific art, you know that it's GTA. This same style has been continuing for many years and it still isn't old today. When the inevitable announcement comes of the next GTA title, we all fully expect the box to have that distinct look we're all familiar with.

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.