Sometimes developers aren’t entirely forthcoming about what is in a game. In these situations, we buy a game under certain expectations and get surprised by what the developer has done. What Hideo Kojima did with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was on a whole other level of lying. For those of you living under a gaming rock, the Metal Gear Solid series stars a character named Snake. He’s a chain-smoking, gruff, sarcastic, mercenary hero. Basically, he is exactly what western audiences want in a video game character. This character is based off of Snake Plissken from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. Hell, the whole premise for Metal Gear Solid is pretty much taken entirely from that movie, so watch it.
|Gods of traditional masculinity and sex|
The promotional material for Metal Gear Solid 2 featured Snake heavily. Gamers assumed that he would, of course, be the lead. This was not the case. Hideo Kojima decided against Snake, and instead brought in Raiden for most of the game. He is the exact opposite of Snake in many ways. Firstly he is an anorexic fresh-faced pretty boy. Secondly, he spends most of the mission whining or being overly cocky. Thirdly, he has long white hair. I mean really? Kojima replaces an iconic western styled video game character with a pretty boy with long white hair. What did he think the reaction would be from audiences? He even made fun of his mistake in Metal Gear Solid 3 where a character that looked exactly like Raiden was the lover to the mad Soviet general from that game.
|Unadulterated sex in the back. Anorexic pretty boy “ninja” in the front. Choose.|
Personally, I feel bad for Raiden. There was no way that he was ever going to be accepted by the fans. Even if he was the most amazing character ever, fans would have still been angry about the switcheroo. We were told that we would be spending the whole game as Solid Snake. They even had a prolonged opening area, where we played as Snake. It was only about a hour in that they introduced Raiden, and I’m sure most people assumed that the switch would be temporary and not the whole rest of the game, especially when you team up with Snake, using the alias Plissken (clever boy), early on. The only way to have replaced Snake successfully would be to replace him with himself (its complicated), which is what they did in Metal Gear Solid 3 and Peacewalker.
|Damn, wrong Raiden|
I understand why Raiden replaced Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2, although, I’ll never understand why they thought his design was any good. Aside from it being important in the plot, Raiden’s main importance is that he is a rookie. This allows Kojima to set up a mentoring relationship between him and Snake, as well as introduce new players to the game easier than if they were playing a veteran. Of course the Metal Gear Solid series breaks the fourth wall so often, it would be hard to just explain how to look up to the hero. Because of Raiden, Metal Gear Solid 2 has become somewhat of a black sheep in the family. It improved the original in every way, but the character change was more than enough for fans to dismiss it entirely. This bitterness goes hand in hand with the feeling of being tricked by Kojima.
|This is a face you can trust|
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was a huge step for the series, modernizing its mechanics, and brining it into the Playstation 2 generation. However, it will mostly be remembered as the game that forced us to play as Raiden. Even if he wasn’t really that bad, fans are very protective of their Snake (HA!). Hideo Kojima definitely learned his lesson and all subsequent Metal Gear Solid games have starred Snake exclusively. That being said, its clear he has a special place in his heart for the pretty boy that nobody wanted. You see starting with Metal Gear Solid 4, Kojima made Raiden into a cyborg ninja in an attempt to make him cool. It worked quite well and he’s getting his own game in Revengeance . Of course fans are still pissed off about Metal Gear Solid 2, so he still has the hate on him and a new game starring him has already caused the internet to explode into a sea of hate.
|That can’t be good for his teeth|
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer