Apocalypse films often use monuments — the White House, the Empire State Building — as symbols for total destruction. Indeed, the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001 targeted structures with symbolic value as well as military and economic value. But Resistance does not use Manchester Cathedral in this way. The Chimera have no interest in destroying a monument, nor do they have any concern for ailing, human civilians in a makeshift church hospital.
The game’s detailed, accurate recreation of the cathedral, as well its separation in its own special level, encourages the player to pay attention to the structure. It is not just another anonymous rowhouse or shack or factory. Instead, it is a structure of note, a unique place, one that demands respect. This sense of awe stands in stark opposition to that of the Chimera, who disrupt and undermine the cathedral's sublime aesthetics and religious symbolism. The cathedral does not become a symbol of humanity’s annihilation, but of the Chimera’s total disregard for human culture and creativity. This is a much worse nightmare vision than simple eradication.
It is not Sony or Insomniac who defile the Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man. It is the Chimera who do. Their casual contempt for the structure cements the player's understanding of these mutant creatures as entirely inhuman, so much so that they aren’t even capable of noticing markers of human ethos such that they might choose to destroy them outright.
Yes, the player must discharge his weapons inside the church to avoid defeat. But when the dust settles, the cathedral empties, and the player is left to spend as much or as little time as he wants exploring the cavernous interior of the cathedral, which survives the barrage, much like the real Manchester Cathedral survived a German bomb attack during World War II.
Since Resistance is such a linear, scripted game, this open time is unusual, even excessive. It offers a break from the incessant barrage of identical Chimera, both for Hale and for the player. It is a time to pause, to reflect, perhaps even to meditate on the relationship between God, human, and alien.
Manchester Cathedral was ransacked during the English Civil War in 1649, half-destroyed by German bombs in 1940, and bombed by the Irish Republican Army in 1996. It survived all these attacks. Its patrons rebuilt it.
And it stands still today. Resistance adds a fictional homage to the church’s resolve, this time in an alternate history fraught by an enemy that neither understands nor cares for human practices like religion. And it survives this as well. The Church of England sees their cathedral's presence in Resistance only as a sordid juxtaposition, the sanctity of worship set against the profanity of violence. But when viewed in the context of the game's fiction, the cathedral serves a purpose in the game consonant with its role in the world: that of reprieve for the weary and steadfastness in the face of devastation.