The world of Insomniac Games’ blockbuster first-person shooter series Resistance is not unlike our own. However, it’s an alternate Earth: a divergent timeline where the Great Depression never happened, the Nazis never rose to power and the Russian Tsarists crushed Lenin’s revolution. Instead of the Cold War, Earth’s nations are challenged by an alien invader: the Chimera. Our Cold War ended with the dissolution of the Soviets, but in Resistance’s alternative reality, the fight against the Chimera continues onward, be it fronted by Nathan Hale or Joseph Capelli, the hero of Resistance 3. Both At first, the battle against the Chimera and the Cold War might seem to have little in common, but with further examination, you’ll see that they’re not so different after all.
The Cold War started in the fifties, the same era of the Resistance games. Both eras had their bogeymen. In Resistance Earth, the foe threatening truth, justice and the American Way (and the German Way, Russian Way, etc. etc.) is the Chimera. In our Earth, it was the communists – at least from the perspective of the leaders of the United States. Both the Chimera and the commies spread by infection: the Chimera by virus, Communism by “subversive” literature, movies and ideas. Both threats originated from Russia, and each (according to the hysterical commie hunters of the fifties) had the ability to turn friends and family into enemies. Comparing the spread of communism to a disease isn’t new. Anti-commie writer John A. Stormer did so in his controversial first book None Dare Call it Treason.
Historians consider the “The Red Scare” – a period of great fear regarding real or imagined communist intrigue in the United States – to have begun in 1947 when President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9835. This Order created a program to ensure the loyalty of federal employees and recommend penalties for those revealed to be Soviet spies. Thus began a shameful period of American history infamous for the anti-communist witch hunts of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the fear-mongering activities Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy. All of this isn’t to say that there weren’t Soviet spies and communist provocateurs operating on American Soil. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg was proof enough of that. Accused and ultimately convicted of working as Soviet spies, their 1951 trial rocked the nation. That was a big year for the America of Resistance Earth, too: that’s the year the Chimera reached American soil, on August 14. (Interestingly enough, August 1951 also marked the release of a classic science fiction film titled, auspiciously enough, When Worlds Collide.)
Resistance isn’t the first time that the threat of communism spawned a science fiction classic. Films The Thing from Another World (1951) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) were both veiled anti-communist message films. Whether Resistance truly is a retro-fueled homage to the anti-commie classics of yesteryear is anyone’s guess, but looking at the parallels between our own Cold War and Resistance’s battle against the Chimera, there’s a strong argument in its favor.
Can’t wait to play the video game? Want more Resistance? Read William C. Dietz’s prequel novel Resistance: A Hole in the Sky, available now!