Catching up to Metal Gear Rising: Raiden's story so far
For a huge amount of Kojima fans, Raiden is the androgynous blonde guy whose surprise role as the main playable character in the game ruined Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and you know, that’s totally understandable. Every single piece of marketing material, as well as the playable demo of the game packed in with Zone of the Enders, arguably one of the reasons ZoE became a best-seller in the first place, all seemed to imply that we were going to see the return of Solid Snake as the main character, and when we finished the tanker section, and Raiden first takes off his mask in the elevator up to Big Shell, betrayed is a good word to describe how many of us felt. Shoot, Kojima himself even acknowledged and poked fun at how much everyone hated Raiden. When Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater came out, the character Ivan Raidenovitch Raikov was the spitting image of Raiden; he said almost nothing the whole game, and he was Colonel Volgin’s effeminate love slave, who Snake proceeds to knock unconscious and hide in a locker.
However, in recent years, with the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Kojima heavily redesigned the character of Raiden, eliminating much of the androgyny of his appearance, and making him much more of a tough customer, with the hope that everyone would like him by the end of the game. Whether or not this was totally successful, it seems to have been enough to garner the release of the upcoming action game from Kojima Productions and Platinum Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. And say what you will about Raiden, this game looks great and is extremely fun to play. Check out the demo on Xbox Live and PSN for free right now, and just in case you aren’t up to date on Raiden’s life story, here’s a brief “story-so-far” to prepare you for when the full game drops on February 19th.
In 1985, in Liberia, Raiden wasn’t Raiden yet. He was a six-year-old boy named Jack, who was taken from his parents and forced to fight in the Liberian Civil War. Demonstrating his proficiency for killing with guns at such a young age, he was sometimes known as “White Devil” or “Jack the Ripper”, and eventually, in 1989, at the age of ten, he became captain of the Small Boys Unit in the Liberian army, under their evil commander Solidus Snake, the third clone of cold war super-soldier Big Boss, who unlike Solid Snake and Liquid Snake, was a perfect DNA match. After Liberia, Jack left Solidus behind, made his way to the United States, and buried his past for a long time, never intending for it to resurface.
As the years went on, Jack was unable to shake the soldier’s life, and worked his way up through the US Army, eventually becoming a member of the experimental Task Force 21 Unit in New York City, which provided him heavy . While there, he met a military data analyst named Rosemary on the steps of Federal Hall, and after a conversation about whether King Kong had climbed the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building, the two became romantically involved. Both Jack and Rose, as he affectionately called her, were recruited into the newly reformed FOXHOUND unit when Solidus Snake resurfaced, and took all of Manhattan hostage from the offshore drilling station known as Big Shell.
At the time, Jack had been given the codename Snake, and was the sole field operative on the mission, with Rose and Colonel Roy Campbell providing support via radio codec. To avoid confusion with Solidus Snake, Jack was quickly given a new codename, Raiden, which he has used continuously since then. Additional assistance on the mission was given by Solid Snake and his partner Otacon, as well as by a mysterious cyborg ninja called Deepthroat and then Mr. X, who seemed to imply that things were not as they seemed before being shot in the head by Solidus Snake.
Indeed, this quickly proved to be the case, as the entire Big Shell incident was eventually revealed by Solidus Snake to be a cover for a new giant Metal Gear called Arsenal Gear. It contained a super-intelligent AI known as GW, which, Solidus Snake explained, was manipulating Raiden as part of what was known as the S3 Project, or the “Solid Snake Simulation”, which was intended to make Raiden into a soldier as good as Solid Snake, by creating a situation with many similarities to the Shadow Moses Incident, which Solid Snake went through during the events of the original Metal Gear Solid.