Fans of the Metal Gear Solid series will always remember experiencing one of the biggest switcharoos in gaming history in Metal Gear Solid 2. The shocking reveal that the main character was Raiden and not Solid Snake was an unpleasant one. Eventually, Raiden would be fleshed out in future titles and become a fan favorite.
The man went from a child soldier to a cyborg ninja throughout the course of the series, meaning there is a lot of ground to cover. These are 10 things every Metal Gear fan needs to know about Raiden.
During the development of Metal Gear Solid 2, Hideo Kojima was inspired by classic literature ahead of the creation of Raiden. Kojima never intended for the second entry in the series to continue Solid Snake's adventure, but rather wanted the story to unfold from a different point of view. The idea was that the game’s two protagonists would share a John Watson/Sherlock Holmes relationship. While Raiden’s introduction was controversial, Metal Gear Solid 2’s story could not have unfolded the way it did without Raiden’s perspective.
Hideo Kojima is, if nothing else, a man open to suggestions. Female fans reached out to Kojima and bemoaned the possibility of playing an aging Solid Snake. Kojima and designer Yoji Shinkawa took heed and designed Raiden to be a younger lead with a more feminine appearance.
In addition to that, Raiden's sneaking suit was designed to be form-fitting. While Kojima doubled down on playing as an older Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4, he gave fans what they asked for with their new white-haired beauty.
In the Big Shell chapter of Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden briefly uses the “Snake” code name before changing it to Raiden. This wasn’t done by accident, nor was it a reference to the Mortal Kombat character or arcade series of the same name. In fact, the inspiration for Raiden’s code name came from the Mitsubishi J2M attack plane, which flew for the Japanese in World War II.
While his real name is Jack, Raiden is seldom called by that name in his many Metal Gear appearances. After all, the first of his many names originated from the darkest chapter of the character’s backstory.
Raiden’s backstory is a dark and troubling one borne from real life events. Born as an orphan during the first Liberian Civil War, the boy that would be Raiden was raised as a child soldier and became such a violent killer that he earned the name “Jack the Ripper.”
The Liberian Civil War was a bloody conflict that lasted seven years and was notable for the use of child soldiers throughout. While Raiden’s childhood was traumatic enough, it doesn’t help that this unfortunate development was all the plan of his adopted father.
Familial conflicts seem to be the core of the Metal Gear series and the confrontation between Raiden and Solidus Snake atop Arsenal Gear is no exception. After revealing to Raiden that he is his adopted father, Solidus also makes the chilling revelation that he killed Raiden's biological parents so he can be trained as a soldier.
The father-son reunion turns predictably violent as Solidus announces his intentions of killing his wayward son. In Metal Gear Solid 2’s final battle, Raiden avenges the death of his parents and gains a measure of revenge for his traumatic childhood by striking Solidus down.
To say Raiden’s introduction could have been handled better would be an understatement. There was plenty of backlash when players had high hopes of continuing the adventures of the gruff and rugged Solid Snake only to be replaced with a whiny blonde in a skin suit.
Kojima would build on Raiden’s cold reception by putting him front and center in a series of comical vignettes found in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. Irked that Snake would be the main character of the series yet again, Raiden unsuccessfully tries to assassinate Big Boss during the events of Snake Eater with hilarious results.
Fans hated the idea that they would have to come to terms with considering Raiden as a potential series lead and replacing the legendary Solid Snake. Ironically, perceptions of Raiden as a character would change almost instantly in Metal Gear Solid 4, being introduced as a cyborg ninja along the lines of fan favorite Grey Fox.
Gone too was the personality and confidence issues that plagued his character in his debut. Modeling him after the mysterious and formidable Grey Fox and giving him his mean streak to boot, Raiden went from being a tolerable addition to a series mainstay, thanks to the cybernetic makeover.
Though the big bads in the Metal Gear series usually get what’s coming to them, there has been no one more efficient in extracting vengeance than Raiden. After settling the score with Solidus at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden would also tie up a loose end in avenging Emma Otacon’s death at the hands of Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 4.
The entire plot of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance consists of Raiden hunting down and killing the members of a rogue military group that left him for dead in the game’s opening stanza. Nobody else in the series has matched Raiden’s level of ruthlessness, making the “Jack the Ripper” the franchise's most effective killer.
The Metal Gear series has always positioned VR as a training environment, be it in the original Metal Gear Solid or its spin-off Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions. Ahead of Raiden’s maiden mission atop the Big Shell, he only had simulated training and his forthcoming exploits would serve as his first official assignment.
Though Raiden was being strung along by the villainous Patriots to recreate the events of the Shadow Moses incident, the rookie was able to take down members of Dead Cell as well as foiling Solidus’ machinations. Not bad for his first day on the job!
While Big Boss and Solid Snake's escapades are the core of the Metal Gear franchise, the unquestionable truth is that Raiden has exceeded both men in terms of battlefield ability and resourcefulness. Even before Raiden gained superhuman augmentations in Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Rising, Raiden’s exploits establish him as the main man of the series.
Like Big Boss and Solid Snake before him, he took down his mentor/father figure as well as an elite group of mercenaries with limited resources and training. After his cybernetic makeover, Raiden is now practically superhuman. While Snake may be the face of the series, Raiden is no doubt the muscle.