Feature: Hate Metal Gear Solid’s Raiden? Time to Settle This…

From spandex-wearing, effeminate man to a cyborg badass, right? Based on appearance alone, I definitely agree with you, but in terms of everything else, I may have to disagree with you. In fact, yes, I do have to disagree with you there – from all angles. And not just for the fact that Raiden doesn’t actually wear spandex.

You know, I never did fully understand all of the hating on Raiden and, by extension, the lack of justification in the claims of his so-called suckiness, such as looking like a girl, or otherwise. (I’m going to go on a bit of a rant here, everyone, so apologies in advance).

If you’ve ever played Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in its entirety and still didn’t grasp why Raiden is so important and fantastic as a character and overall spirit, then you clearly missed the point and I sincerely recommend playing it again – many, many, many times. I hate to burst anyone under the following assumption’s bubble, but Raiden wasn’t put in there as the ‘new hero’ or anything silly like that. No, not at all, though you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking so without first learning about the Raiden behind the eyes. He’s in the game – and plays an unquestionably vital role – because the character himself is an embodiment of one of MGS2′s themes: Substance. (The other being memetic engineering; or the theory that ideas, beliefs and thoughts can be isolated and controlled.) Substance or, more precisely, Raiden’s lack of substance in that he is an empty blank shell of a being who has been manipulated, conditioned and exploited his entire life without realising so, living every pre-planned day as though they were his own.

 

Action Man, the greatest Raiden of them all!

 

Sure, he looks stupid – we all know that – but has no-one ever taken a moment to consider that that’s the point? As Hideo Kojima (the man himself) has stated in the past, he wanted a character that was completely new; a “pure, virgin, white” character. The white hair – virginal. His effeminate, skinny body – virginal and reflective of being this empty shell of a being with no ‘meat’ (double entendre time) or character of his own. It brings more focus to his emotional side, as opposed to the physical, and it’s just plain brilliant. It’s Shakespearean, even, but not as boring.

He was also placed in the game to give more depth to the character of Solid Snake as it would, understandably, be quite difficult to give Snake depth if he’s the one you’re playing as. Raiden is a device in that sense; another reflection of his troubled past and lifetime of manipulation. It just doesn’t end, both inside and outside of the game for the guy, and that’s just one reason why he’s perfect (yes, I said it – he’s perfect), as he just might hold the key to expanding the minds and touching the souls and human condition of… well, humans, providing you have the time for him and his addled past, of course. As I said up there, Raiden wasn’t intended to be the new hero of Metal Gear Solid whatsoever, but that doesn’t stop him from becoming one, and quite rightfully so, I say.

 

Holy heck, he’s gorgeous… (Sephiroth is quaking in his trainers, right?)

 

And let’s not forget Raiden’s sparks-flying stellar performance in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots where, I think we’ll all agree, he comes into full form and holds the crown of badass-ery high and beyond all those who dared possess it before him. Sure, I haven’t played MGS4 due to the fact that I don’t own a PS3, but – and I might sound a bit desperate now – I’ve watched a number of playthroughs and every single one of the game’s cutscenes countless times now, and I felt the full intensity of Raiden through those alone, and it was tremendous! You only have to watch this particular scene to see that he is, and always has been, incredible.  

Why is he armless and wielding the blade with his teeth?

Because he’s a lunatic, that’s why! Naww… I kid, I kid. He is a lunatic, sure, but the reason for this taste of steel is because of multiple injuries, including – get this – having the crap stabbed out of him by Vamp and, in effect, himself by plunging his high-frequency blade through his stomach and into the abdomen on Vamp who’s strangling him from behind, as well as holding the behemoth Outer Haven back from crushing Snake with only the strength of his body behind him (not to mentioned dislocating and cutting off his right arm to free himself from a pile of debris atop of him to get to Snake in the first place), only to be outweighed and being crushed under the weight of the thing after saving the old hero.  

But where was his other arm in all of this? Only the right arm was removed, wasn’t it, and so surely he could have used his left arm to wield the blade as opposed to placing it between his teeth in an attempt to look cool?

While it’s never fully explained, the popular opinion is that his left arm was left so mangled and messed up from being squished underneath Outer Haven that, upon being recovered by the USS Missouri’s medical team, the arm was amputated and Raiden was left completely armless until the end of the game where his body undergoes intensive surgery to remove the exoskeleton from him and, instead, fit him with a new cybernetic body that appears more human.

 

A possible exception, of course…

 

So, what is honestly wrong with him outside of the effeminate look and the fact that he isn’t the legendary Solid Snake? Nothing at all. Zilch! If you’ve not realised or understood exactly why Raiden is in the game, then I highly recommend playing through the game again and paying attention to the poor guy, but if you’re going to diss him based on appearances alone, then I’d be very interested in what you all think of some (if not all) of Bayonetta’s bosses.

And any reservations people may have had about Raiden back when he was picked as an easy target should have been (or, more likely, were) well and truly wiped out by Raiden’s immense performance in MGS4, though, in reality, any bad taste caused by the guy should never have even existed in the first place. The guy had his jaw and spine torn out and was fitted with a crippling exoskeleton. That is the sign of a true hardman. 

To cut a long rant short: I voted yes on Raiden.

 

If you would like to read more by Gary, you can always visit his blog Gamesoup or check out his Twitter feed at @GaryGamesoup.

Author: G H

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