Earlier this year, the Church of
England threatened to sue Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for
depicting the Manchester Cathedral in the latter's sci-fi shooter
Resistance: Fall of Man.
The church had complained about the
game's inclusion of the cathedral, which was named and modeled after
the 700-year-old church in this industrial city in northwest England.
After considerable pressure and public condemnation,
Sony issued a public apology.
In their statement, Sony apologized for offending the church or the
residents of Manchester, but not for including the cathedral in the
Amazingly, but perhaps not
surprisingly, none of the coverage of the cathedral controversy
actually discusses the game. Sony didn't say much about it either,
save a self-defeating statement from Sony Europe noting that the game
is work of fantasy science fiction game and
not based on reality.
This statement implies, but does not actually address, the absurdity
of critiquing a game about a hypothetical postwar 20th century in
which a hybrid alien race called the Chimaera invade and assimilate
the human population. But neither Sony nor developer Insomniac Games
ever tried to explain the expressive goals the use of the cathedral
The real Manchester Cathedral
Absent the creators’ own ability,
interest, or resolve to defend the artistic merits of their creation,
that task is now left to the critic. For my part, I think the
cathedral creates one of the only significant experiences in the
whole game, one steeped in reverence for the cathedral and the church,
rather than desecration.
Resistance is not a game richly imbued
with wisdom. It's a first-person shooter, and it is a pretty good
one. It's beautifully rendered, taking apparent advantage of the
advanced graphical capabilities of the PlayStation 3. The game is
very linear, both in its plot and the paths through each level, but
that linearity allows it to focus the player on a smaller, more
tightly crafted environment. Resistance takes up a common
theme in science fiction: an ultimate test of humankind against the
Other. This is also one of the classic themes of video games, one we
have seen since Space Invaders.
Because of its simplicity, Resistance
is also a very predictable game. You shoot aliens and alien-human
hybrids. A lot of them, over and over again. Your character, Sgt.
Nathan Hale, is a one-note brute of a fellow with a mysterious past
and a permanently furrowed brow.
As is the case in most games of this
kind, he is alone in his quest to rid the world of its space
invaders, a turn justified by a feeble deus ex machina at the game’s
outset, when all of Hale's unit is killed in a series of overwhelming