You are reading material prepared during the development of the pirate life simulation game Corsairs Legacy by Ukrainian Mauris studio with the aim of popularizing the marine theme in general and pirate games in particular. You can follow the project news on our website, YouTube channel, and Telegram.
With this material, we open a series of articles in which Kirill Nazarenko, Doctor of Historical Sciences, author of 79 scientific works, will review pirate-themed games from the point of view of history, especially for fans of the Sea Dogs game series.
In this article, you can get acquainted with Kirill Nazarenko's view on Havana in Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag.
Hello! Today my speech will be dedicated to the game Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag, and more specifically, the city of Havana. I want to say right away that I really liked Havana performed by the authors of Assassin's Creed.
You can start with a scene in the port when the main character finds himself on a wooden walkway leading to a stone pier. Everything looks very nice, especially the worker who wipes the dirt off the boards. I must say that I have never seen such a well-drawn city. If one can find fault with the way the characters who walk its streets are painted, then it is impossible to find fault with the city itself. Small two-story houses with decorative semi-columns, arches, and signs really convey the atmosphere of colonial architecture. Some are abandoned and shabby. The streets are unpaved and overgrown with vegetation. All this looks very authentic.
Then the hero enters the tavern. But it does not make such a strong impression as the city, because it is just a courtyard with rather fragile, as it turns out, tables, and it is surrounded by arches that would rather be characteristic of some churchyard. Here, a gallery on wooden poles would be much more suitable.
Of course, it cannot be said that the costumes of the heroes made me happy. If women's costumes are still a little suitable for the 17th-18th centuries, then men's suits are no good at all. The protagonist is dressed in some kind of incomprehensible caftan with a hood and with a strange hanger of a sword, something between a cavalry and infantry hanger. Let me remind you that in the infantry hanger, the sword was attached directly to the belt with the help of a blade — a small cocoon pocket without a bottom, into which the legs were inserted and clung to it with a hook. In the cavalry hanger, a saber or sword was attached to two apiaries: a short front and a long back. The short front kept the sword or saber approximately at the waist, and the long rear apiary was supposed to prevent the sword from swinging forward too much when a person rode a horse. But here we see a combination of some incomprehensible bags on the belt. Other characters are dressed in costumes from the second half of the 19th century, which could have been worn by some heroes from Crime and Punishment.
Returning to the city itself, you can see that in the middle of this city rises a cathedral, which looks like the cathedral that is located in Havana. Although there are some inaccuracies here, the main one is that the Havana Cathedral was built in 1777, and the game should take place a little earlier. However, the cathedral is well done. Although, chests with artifacts standing right on the outer gallery raise questions. It is very funny that some repairs are still being carried out in the cathedral, which also looks pretty good. The cathedral really looks like a real one and it only decorates the game.
If we talk about the harbor where the hero eventually ends up, then it is also well done. Nevertheless, it seems that the ships could be made a little better. Although to be constructive, these are large boats with Latin sails, that is, what should have been in the bay in the Caribbean Sea. Small ships intended for coastal navigation. Of course, the ports would not be clogged with ocean-going three-masts. It is also clear that most of the goods were transported in small boats, as they were transported along the coast.
When the hero is on the deck, I am a little embarrassed that the boards on it are for some reason laid across, and not along. Maybe this is such a subtle feature of the local Caribbean shipbuilding, although usually the boards on the deck are laid along the vessel, and not across. But the wear and tear on this vessel are good enough. And also, funny splashes on the camera that appear from the fact that the hero jumped into the water is such a nice joke of the game authors. True, the hero does not swim very well.
Again, returning to the city, I can say that the colonial town is very pretty. Painted in, on the one hand, contrasting, and on the other hand, not bright colors of the house indicate that natural dyes were used. In the fountain, water oozes slightly, and does not jet upwards, as in modern fountains, since in those centuries it was a source of water, and not an adornment of the city.
The church that appears during the game also makes quite a pleasant impression. This is a typical colonial baroque, which was widespread in Latin America in the 18th century, and which defines the modern look of tourist attractions. As for the city plan, it is also good. Of course, I cannot guarantee that this is a real city, but such a task was not set. The authors wanted to show some typical colonial towns, and they succeeded. I emphasize once again that a good impression is made by the presence of a large number of sheds, carts on the streets, dirt, and garbage, that is, what is present in any human settlement and makes it not varnished, but real and alive. Very cool that on tiles in some places even dirt and moss are drawn, which have grown there due to constant humidity.
Of course, I am not an architectural historian, and I will not go into the analysis of such subtle decorative elements, but I will repeat once again that in general, I liked the way Havana is drawn in Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag.
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