Raiden and the Snake
Metal Gear Solid 2 also takes a big departure from the previous titles by replacing Solid Snake very early on with a less rugged, and more sympathetic hero, Raiden. While Snake is controllable briefly, his time comes to a halt abruptly and players are thrown into the shoes of Raiden.
This didn’t sit well with players, as the vocal majority complained about Raiden for numerous reasons.
It would seem the designers at Konami preemptively saw this backlash coming as Solid Snake went from playable character to a borderline 4th wall breaking Non Player Character. When Raiden eventually runs into Solid Snake, he doesn’t know that it’s Solid Snake and is rather suspicious of him. When asked Solid keeps his true identity secret from Raiden and tells him a fake name, Iroquois Pliskin, a throwback to the movie antihero Solid was based on, Snake Plissken from Escape from New York. The game is clearly fucking with expectations of the player, and does it in a dead serious way. Kojima wanted you to want to play as Snake, and dangled him under the player’s nose constantly.
Whereas Snake was always the cool kid smoking in the corner, Raiden was made out to be the kid bullies in the schoolyard would pick on.
Toward the end of MGS2 Raiden is stripped, tortured and eventually escapes captivity in a situation mirroring a scenario that Solid Snake had to go through in Metal Gear Solid – Raiden was even tortured by the same person. But when Raiden escaped he was treated much differently than Snake was; while Snake kept his pants on at all times, Raiden was left fully naked forced to do nude cartwheels in order to avoid being spotted as Raiden covered his crotch with both hands. After a bit of humiliation Raiden was given his clothes back by the the now outed Solid Snake, who also hands Raiden a new weapon, a sword.
The sword would introduce an important shift in Raiden’s characterization as well as the way players would interact with him from that point forward; at least after the rocket launcher Metal Gear Ray fight. Raiden would end up fighting a father like figure with his sword effectively changing Raiden’s role in the series from a Solid Snake simulator into his own character. Shortly after this battle, MGS2 came to a close.
“Now we can fight as warriors, hand to hand. It is the basis of all combat. Only a fool trusts his life to a weapon.” – The Cyborg Ninja, Grey Fox
In Metal Gear Solid, Snake always fought with his bare hands, a fact that had been emphasized greatly when Snake was forced to fight a former ally, a sword equipped cyborg ninja, hand to hand. The cyborg eventually put his sword down and yearned for a physical beating to make him feel alive. The sword was a barrier in this situation and thus was cast aside.