I just started my third playthrough of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty yesterday (currently half way through the Plant Chapter). Some has lamented the inclusion of Raiden as the main playable character in the fourth Metal Gear game, but I never understood why. Many has dubbed him an annoying bugger and worse, a fag (in a derogatory sense).
Sure he has an androgynous appearance, but I think this probably highlights the cultural difference in gaming between the West and the East (well Japan and Otaku sub-culture). One has to look at Gears of Wars, Halo et. al, big budget American games with big burly grunts as heroes, to realise this. I like my video gaming characters to have a 'normal' body. And while Solid Snake is in no way like any id/Epic grunt, he does conform to the archtypical stereotyped male character of the West.
I understand why some are annoyed, because Kojima did (mis?)lead people to believe that Solid Snake would be the main character, due to the box art work (only the original Sons of Liberty Japanese cover that Raiden is featured on the cover before the Substance version is released two years later) as well as the Tanker Chapter. But I do not know why they have to get worked up with playing as Raiden. In a way, by introducing Raiden, Kojima and also introduced new moves that were only being capable of being replicated by someone more agile. In addition to that the gameplay is 99% similar to Metal Gear Solid with Solid Snake.
I like Raiden as a character. He fumbles, trips, and questions a lot, but this is the proper behaviour of an innocent rookie isn't it? Raiden is also a good playable video gaming character with a wider range of moves. In fact I look forward to him taking over from Snake from MGS4 and beyond.