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18 Things Metal Gear Solid 2 Doesn’t Outright Tell You

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The player aims a gun at a guard's head in Metal Gear Solid 2.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and its follow-up expanded release, Substance, released on the PS2 all the way back in the early 2000s, dramatically expanding the gameplay systems of Metal Gear Solid and opening the narrative up to wild and unexpected twists and turns.

Read More: Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions: The Kotaku Review

Like the first Metal Gear Solid, Sons of Liberty has a number of unexplained game systems. Some are tucked into the game’s manual, while others might be mentioned during optional Codec calls. If you forgot about some of these non-obvious mechanics or are playing MGS2 for the first time, these techniques will help you remain sneaky and lethal.

Leaning and peeking

In Metal Gear Solid 2, you’ll enter first-person mode with R1/RB/R on PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch respectively. But by using R2/L2, R/L, or ZR/ZL on PlayStation, Xbox, or Switch respectively, you can lean to the side. If you press both at the same time, you’ll stand on your toes and can peer over objects.

This is very helpful for a quick peek around a corner or to get better angles, particularly during boss fights. Snake’s shootout with Olga is one such example. By using the trigger buttons you can easily get some better angles on her.

Note that you can easily be spotted while leaning or standing on your toes, so you’ll want to be quick when you’re taking a look around a corner.

Snag those dog tags!

If you run up to a guard and hold your weapon (pressing in the left thumbstick will see Snake or Raiden take aim), you’ll hold up a guard. If you then walk around to the front of them and point the gun at their head (or, um, crotch), they will do a little shake and will give up a dog tag.

Screenshot: Konami / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

You can spot whether or not a guard has a dog tag by either equipping thermal goggles or looking for a shimmery effect just below their neck.

Read More: The Original Metal Gear Solid Has A Fast Travel Mechanic You Probably Didn’t Know About

Some guards, however, won’t give up their loot so easily. If a guard says “are you going to shoot me?” make sure you have a lethal weapon equipped (be sure not to go unarmed when holding up a guard as they’ll immediately enter an alert status and will call for backup), aim away from their head and fire off a shot. This will scare them and they’ll give up their dog tag if they have one.

Also, you can get dog tags from select bosses by picking them up and putting them down after the fight.

At the end of the game, you can unlock the following equipment depending on how many dog tags you’ve gathered:

Snake’s chapter:

46 dog tags: Bandana (grants infinite ammo)
76 dog tags: Stealth camo (makes you invisible so long as you don’t bump into a guard).

Raiden’s chapter:

73 dog tags: Infinity wig (grants Raiden infinite ammo)
121 dog tags: Stealth camo
170 dog tags: Wig B (lets you hang without losing grip)
218 dog tags: Wig A (gives you infinite O2 when underwater)

You can loot knocked-out guards

Grab a knocked-out guard and put them down and you’ll likely earn an item such as ammo, bandages, or even a ration. You may have to do this once or twice for it to work.

Spotted? Shoot their radios

You may have come across this one accidentally by opening fire on a guard who spotted you. If you shoot a walkie talkie with a lethal weapon, you’ll disable it, preventing the guard from easily going into alert status.

Read More: 16 Things The First Metal Gear Solid Doesn’t Outright Tell You

But you don’t have to get spotted for a chance to disable their communications device. Guards keep their radios on their back, so fire off a shot directly at their radio and you’ll break it without them even realizing.

Explore how interactive the world is

Metal Gear Solid 2 was notable at the time of its original release in 2001 for its wildly interactive world. You can often break various objects to create noise for guards to react to. Some guards will even investigate if you’ve smashed bottles, glass, or other breakable objects.

Another great (and useful) example is that in Olga’s boss battle, you can even shoot out the tarp she likes to hide behind by shooting the cords holding it down.

Stash unconscious guards in lockers

Snake hides a sleeping guard in a locker.

Screenshot: Konami / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

If you want to put a guard to sleep for nearly forever without killing them, knock one out or put ‘em to sleep, then drag them to a locker, open it up, and hide them in there by pulling them into the locker. Once sealed away, they won’t wake up to resume their patrol.

You can run and gun

This is another detail that’s tucked in the manual but not expressly spelled out to you during the game. While you’re aiming your weapon, you can hold L1, LB, or L on PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch respectively to run while aiming and firing your weapon.

You can access the Master Collection’s menu options by entering the pause screen first

The Master Collection has a wildly limited set of options but some, like toggling between windowed mode and full-screen on PC, are very handy. To access this, pause the game and press L1+R1/LB+RB/L+R on PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch respectively.

Wake guards up with coolant or by picking them up and putting them down

Sometimes you want to wake a guard you just knocked out (often to get their dog tags, but sometimes it’s fun to mess with them). If you’re far enough in Raiden’s chapter that you’ve acquired the coolant spray, just use that on an unconscious guard’s face to wake ‘em up. If you don’t have it (or you’re playing Snake’s chapter), pick guards up and put them down repeatedly and you’ll wake them up faster.

Quickly unequip and re-equip a weapon to tactically reload it

Just like in the first Metal Gear Solid, if you quickly unequip and re-equip a weapon with the shoulder buttons, you’ll refill your magazine even if you haven’t spent all of your bullets.

Keeping rations equipped can save you from a game over screen

This is particularly useful during boss fights: Just like in MGS1, keeping rations equipped will see them automatically used when your health drops to zero. There are pros and cons to this technique, but it can help when you’re fighting a tricky boss who demands all of your attention.

Master Collection: The left thumbstick toggles aiming

Time for a history lesson! The PS2 (and PS3) each had analog face buttons, meaning that the console could detect how hard you were pressing a button like square or triangle. MGS2 used this hardware quirk to allow you to easily raise your weapon with or without firing.

Read More: Here’s How To Play Metal Gear Solid 3 The Right Way

Since the PS4, gaming hardware has chosen to become super boring, and we now have rigid, binary digital buttons. Konami has made up for this difference by allowing you to raise and aim your weapon by pressing in the left thumbstick. If you aim your weapon by holding down a face button and don’t wish to fire, you can also press the left thumbstick to lower your aim.

You can do pull-ups to increase your grip strength

While hanging on a ledge as either Snake or Raiden, you can press R1+L1/RB+LB/R+L to do a pull-up. If you do 100 of these, your grip strength will go up in level, allowing you to hang for longer. Grip level maxes out at Level 3.

You can fast-forward Codec calls

While you probably don’t want to skip Codec calls and cutscenes on your first playthrough of MGS2, you can breeze past them by first hitting X, A, or B on PS5, Xbox, or Switch respectively and then pressing the right-most face button (square, X, or Y for each platform) to fast-forward through a conversation.

Toggle inverted camera in the options before playing

If you want to invert your look controls for first-person, navigate to Options > Own View before launching the game. You can toggle this option during Raiden’s chapter, but Snake’s chapter will lock you into whatever this setting is when you start the game.

There are different radar options too

In the same Options screen as the “View” options, you can also toggle between “Off,” “Type 1,” and “Type 2.” Off is self-explanatory, but in Type 1, you’ll still have your radar during “Intrusion,” which is when guards are keeping an eye out but are no longer in Alert or Evasion mode. Type 2 disables the radar during Intrusion mode for a greater challenge.

Stinger missile hack: You can lock onto targets after firing a missile

Gif: Konami / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

This is a fun one, and very useful for Raiden’s battle against the Harrier jet. After firing a rocket from the stinger missile launcher, you can move the cursor to target an enemy. The missile will then break from its current course to hit whatever it’s locked onto. This is very helpful for shooting around corners.

Don’t forget the VR missions and Snake Tales in the Master Collection!

MGS2 as it appears in the 2023 Master Collection is actually an HD version of MGS2’s expanded release, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. As such, you’ll spot two options in the main menu: “Missions” and “Snake Tales.” The former features a vast amount of challenges for both Snake and Raiden (including some exclusive modes like an FPS take on MGS2’s gameplay). Snake Tales are short vignettes set on either the Big Shell or Tanker that see Snake take on different narrative sneaking challenges.

Snake sneaks through the Big Shell while disguising himself as Pliskin.

Screenshot: Konami / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

One mission even lets you play as Snake dressed as Iriqouis Pliskin.


That wraps our list of easily missed MGS2 mechanics. Learning some of these techniques is essential for mastering this classic stealth game, especially on the harder difficulties.

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