It was one heck of a bait and switch. Almost exactly 15 years ago, the then-new PlayStation 2 was finally seeing the launch of its most hotly anticipated game. It was heralded by a spectacular demo shown at E3 2000 that showed off everything a Metal Gear Solid fan could hope for: Solid Snake infiltrating a storm-lashed tanker under assault by Russian troops; incredible next-generation 3D and lighting effects; bullets that would realistically shatter glass and send objects flying; and a vast new Metal Gear robot.
That was all in there when Metal Gear Solid 2 released on November 12, 2001, but it was just the prologue to the biggest bait and switch in gaming history. Rather than a tanker by night, you'd be playing on an oil platform on a sunny day, and not as gritty old Metal Gear star Solid Snake, but as some long-haired fop called Raiden.
Metal Gear Solid 2 was incendiary. It caused outrage and confusion. The series was already famous for the kind of trickiness that would print answers to riddles on the CD jewel case and ask you to switch controller ports to defeat enemies. So where was game director Hideo Kojima going with this one? It was all part of Metal Gear Solid 2's grand theme of truth and identity, a story that made it the most narratively ambitious console game of its time.