Raiden is one of the lead characters from the Metal Gear franchise (particularly the Solid series and Rising) of stealth action games. He first appeared as the lead protagonist in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, which came as a surprise for most fans who expected to play the entire game as Solid Snake. The player assumes the role of Raiden at Big Shell. At the very beginning of the mission, Raiden’s codename was “Snake” but this was changed quickly, as the leader of the opposing terrorist group at the Big Shell was believed to be Solid Snake himself. Raiden’s character was very inquisitive and emotional during his mission especially when in communication with Rose, whom he was in a relationship with at the time. During save sequences they would reminisce about the day they met which is frequently referred to as being April 30th, 2007. Raiden was in fact a pawn in the S3 plan which was an attempt at recreating the events of Shadow Moses, devised by the Patriots.
When Raiden was introduced, he was a member of an American special forces unit known as FOXHOUND. As the story progresses, it is revealed that Raiden was trained primarily through virtual reality and has little, if any, actual combat experience prior to the Big Shell mission. Further into the game, it comes to light that after the death of his parents, Raiden fought in the Liberian Civil War as a child soldier in Solidus Snake’s “Army of the Devil”, where his outstanding kill record earned him the nicknames “Jack the Ripper” and “White Devil”. After the conclusion of that conflict, he disappeared from the relief camp and emerged years later working for FOXHOUND. During that time, it is suggested that his memory was erased using neural implants.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Raiden’s first appearance was in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the PlayStation 2. During this game, a tanker is sunk in the New York harbor. The incident is blamed on a terrorist attack led by Solid Snake, who was presumably killed in the attack. The public is told that the sinking tanker also introduced toxic chemicals into the water system. A massive, floating, off-shore clean-up facility, known as the Big Shell, was quickly constructed to mitigate this pollution. Soon after construction was complete, the President of the United States himself toured the facility and was taken hostage in a surprise attack by members of a rogue special force unit called Dead Cell. Being lead by a man calling himself Snake, Dead Cell threatened to blow up the Big Shell unless an astronomical ransom was paid. FOXHOUND, under the command of Colonel Campbell, dispatched a rookie agent codenamed “Snake.” After “Snake” successfully infiltrates the Big Shell, his codename is changed to “Raiden”, to avoid confusion with the enemy leader. He is given several mission objectives which include the rescue of the United States President. Despite his lack of real-world combat experience, Raiden is able to successfully dispatch key members of Dead Cell and save Big Shell from being demolished.
After Sons Of Liberty
After the Big Shell Incident, Raiden went to save Sunny Gurlurkovichy from the Patriots as he had vowed to her mother, Olga, that he would upon her death. In exchange for the location of Big Boss, Big Mama (EVA) agreed to give Raiden Sunny’s location. Raiden successfully rescues Sunny, from Area 51, with the help of Big Mama’s Paradise Lost army, but ends up leaving her to Snake and Otacon anonymously due to Roy Campbell and Rose’s relationship. He then spends time in Alaska learning various scouting and hunting techniques, but was captured shortly after looking for Big Boss’ remains for the Paradise Lost Army. He was kidnapped by the Patriots and underwent a similar ultimate soldier program to Gray Fox (Frank Jaeger).
The program was an intense torture program followed by the replacement of almost all limbs, organs as his head to his lower jaw was removed from the rest of his body, then implanted onto a synthetic, artificial body. He was rescued by the Paradise Lost Army, but not in time for him to want to live a normal life. Feeling like a monster, Raiden successfully helped the Paradise Lost Army retrieve the remains of Big Boss, and then disappeared out of everyone’s lives – including his ex-fiance Rosemary.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Guns of the Patriots takes place 5 years after the events of Sons of Liberty. Character designers and artists re-designed Raiden as the third person to bear the mantle of the Cyborg Ninja. Before the release of the game, one popular video showcased Raiden’s cinematic athleticism and sword-fighting skills as a he squares off against one of the series returning antagonists, Vamp.
Raiden had become estranged from Rose, who had married Colonel Campbell and borne him a son. Raiden was instrumental in saving the life of Old Snake more than once during the game. Fans took a new interest in Raiden’s redesign and the reaction was generally positive. Raiden is not playable, but two OctoCamo replicas of his head can be unlocked and worn during the game.
At the end of Guns of the Patriots, Rose introduced Raiden to her son, John who was in reality Raiden’s son, not Campbell’s. After the rescue of Sunny, all of Raiden’s loved ones were considered in danger, so Rose married Campbell to make it appear that she no longer cared for Raiden, and claimed that her pregnancy from Raiden had miscarried and that the baby was Campbell’s. Raiden vows to be a family man.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Raiden appears as the playable main character in Metal Gear Rising, set four years after the events of MGS4. Despite being considered a spinoff title and having been developed mostly by Platinum Games, Kojima did co-produce the game and offered consultation on the story, making it a part of Metal Gear canon unless otherwise noted.
The story begins with Raiden having taken on a job working as private security consultant and bodyguard for Maverick Security Consulting, Inc. to provide for his family. After helping a man named N’Mani secure the future of his country, Raiden’s assignment goes horribly wrong when multiple cyborg assassins appear with a copy of Metal Gear RAY and attack N’Mani’s convoy. Despite Raiden’s best efforts, N’Mani is killed and Raiden himself is left for dead while the main attackers manage to escape, forcing Doktor Voigt to create a new cyborg body and sword for Raiden.
After recovering from his injuries, Raiden decides to get revenge on “Jetstream” Sam and all of his comrades in the “Winds of Destruction,” cutting a path through cities around the world like Abkhazia, Guadalajara, and Denver. However, as he seeks vengeance, he discovers that he does not use his sword to “defend the weak” as he repeatedly claims throughout the story, but simply for the thrill of killing his enemies as his “Jack the Ripper” persona re-emerges. After this revelation, he quits his job and finishes destroying the Winds of Destruction, then zips over to an Air Force base in Pakistan to take down their leader. After arriving at the nearly abandoned base, he destroys the latest Metal Gear model and then kills the architect of “Operation Tecumseh” in a one-on-one showdown, preserving an uneasy peace in the world.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Raiden returns in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes as a playable character only in the “Jamais Vu” extra mission, where he battles Snatchers at Camp Omega in Cuba. His presence is explained only as a mysterious time-traveller from the future. Upon successful completion, a voice clip of one of his comrades from Rising can be heard cheering him on before he boards the chopper. Despite appearing in his cyborg ninja outfit, Raiden does not carry his sword with him, instead using the same equipment as Big Boss.
Early footage of Sons of Liberty shown at video game trade shows exclusively featured Solid Snake, the protagonist of the first game. After the first chapter of the game concludes, players were surprised that the chapter ends with the supposed death of Solid Snake, with the player then finding themselves in control of Raiden, rather than Snake. Raiden was never shown in trailer videos. Many fans reacted negatively to the introduction of this new character, or, in truth, any player character at all who wasn’t Snake. Additionally, Raiden was ridiculed among gaming forums and magazines for his effeminate looks, naiveté, high-pitched voice and occasional arguments with his girlfriend, Rose, during the mission.
The series creator and director, Hideo Kojima, addressed fan concerns about Raiden with a parody video announcing Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. In the machinima-style video, Raiden and Solid Snake vie for the lead spot in the upcoming game. Furthermore, a joke character (Ivan Raidenovitch Raikov) based on Raiden is featured in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, as the homosexual love interest of antagonist Colonel Volgin.
- The word “Raiden” (雷電) literally means “thunder and lightning” in Japanese. In the later half of Metal Gear Solid 4, there are various references to this, notably his dialogue referencing lightning when he makes his appearance right before Snake enters the microwave corridor. He also mentions that he was born on a rainy day, believing that gave him bad luck from the very beginning of his life, with Snake replying that Raiden had it all wrong and that he was “the lightning in that rain”.
- Raiden coincidentally shares both his names with the Mitsubishi J2M Raiden, an Imperial Japanese WWII fighter aircraft. The Allied codename for the plane was “Jack”.
- Raiden is the only Cyborg Ninja out of the entire series to have survived the game they appeared in, and also the only one to not fight Solid Snake.
- Raiden’s white hair represents “purity,” representing his role as the then-new main character and his apparent stance as a rookie at Metal Gear Solid 2’s start.
- Raiden’s never-used sidearm in MGS4 is the classic SOCOM. It is visible on the Medicom Action Figure based on the designs by Yoji Shinkawa, and usable when playing as Raiden in Metal Gear Online. Raiden was given a SOCOM by Snake during the Big Shell Incident, but whether or not this is that same SOCOM is unknown.
- In Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus, Raiden (as he was in MGS2) appears as a playable character, equipped with the SOCOM (dubbed Mk.23). He is also playable in Metal Gear Online, in his Cyborg Ninja look.
- Konami kept Raiden’s starring role in Metal Gear Solid 2 a secret right up until the game’s release in North America, even going so far as to replace Raiden with Snake in teaser trailers and other preview materials (although Raiden did appear in a few preview trailers in his scuba gear, his presence was not as emphasized as the other characters). The presence of Raiden in the game was only openly admitted to the Japanese press on the same day as the game’s release in North America.
- At the time of Metal Gear Solid 2‘s release, Raiden was disliked by many fans of the series due largely to his apparently “whiny” personality and effeminate appearance, as well as acting as the protagonist over Snake. However, Hideo Kojima has stated in interviews that he was mainly put in for new fans of the series so that he could ask questions that a veteran like Solid Snake wouldn’t ask, and to make Snake seem more impressive as a character. Kojima has also explicitly stated that Raiden is his favorite character in Metal Gear Solid 2.
- Metal Gear Solid 3 makes use of Raiden’s character as well as his appearance. Selecting the option “I like MGS2!” before starting a new game, triggers a change in the opening, in which Naked Snake is wearing a mask that looks identical to Raiden’s face.
- In the Metal Gear Solid 4 Director’s trailer, Raiden makes a parody appearance along with Snake, who is dressed to look like Sam Fisher, the main character in Splinter Cell. The trailer depicts them fighting over who will be the main character of MGS4. Snake wins the fight easily, sitting in the “main character” chair, signalling a chime. But just as Snake leaves and before the credits roll, Raiden is seen eyeing up the chair, and as the screen fades to black, the same chime is heard.
- Raiden also appears in one of the Secret Theater shorts made by Kojima Productions for their website. Entitled “Metal Gear Raiden: Snake Eraser”, the short depicts Raiden’s attempts to “erase” Solid Snake by traveling back in time in a Terminator-like fashion and attempting to assassinate Naked Snake, all ending in a humorous failure. Even once, after realizing he wasn’t going to kill Naked Snake, he went back to the events of the Zanzibar Land Uprising (complete with MSX2 graphics) to kill Solid Snake himself, ending in similar failure.
- A costume available to download for LittleBigPlanet allows the Sackboys to dress up as Cyborg Raiden.
- Raiden is a secret character in Evolution Skateboarding. To play as Raiden, the player must beat the game 100%, collecting all coins with character Mark Appleyard.
- Game Informer magazine ranked Raiden #2 in their list of the top 10 heroes of 2008.
- In Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood there is an unlockable MGS4 Raiden “skin” for Ezio.