Richard Stanton has this great article on Metal Gear Solid 2 and how the game was itself an examination of expectations for what a sequel to Metal Gear Solid could be. Here’s a short part about the protagonist, Raiden:
Raiden was MGS2’s big secret, a character visually designed to appeal to people who didn’t play MGS – specifically women. The first game’s audience was largely male, and Kojima believed a good-looking young man would be a pleasant contrast to the gruff chain-smoking Snake.
But the true purpose was different. Before he was ever called Raiden, the character was known by the kanji (Ore) that literally translates as ‘I.’ Raiden was intended to represent the player, specifically the type of player who enjoys war-themed games like MGS. The events at the Big Shell closely parallel the events at Shadow Moses, with one big difference.
The first time you control Raiden, with his mask off and blonde locks flowing freely, the location is designed around a bespoke effect: lots of bird shit. Walk on it and Raiden pratfalls, an initially amusing animation that soon becomes a little tiresome as you search for the way forward.
It’s a little thing but, boy, do they pile up. MGS2 in ways big and small undermines Raiden at nearly every turn, constantly reinforcing to both him and the player that he is not Solid Snake. The Big Shell is Raiden’s first combat mission, and no-one misses the opportunity to remind him of it. When Snake meets Raiden he calls him “green” and “rookie.” Raiden’s first boss fight, against Fortune, cannot be won – and she taunts him for not being Snake. Where Snake stoically bore torture, Raiden ends up crying.
There’s so much more in the article. The upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5 is giving people a great excuse to write about the older games in the series and how awesomely unconventional they were.