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Dog tags are identification tags worn by military personnel. They are often worn around the neck. Their primary purpose is the identification of the wounded or dead as a result of battle. They are usually worn in pairs so that, in the event that a casualty cannot be moved, one tag can be collected while the other remains with the body. They are named because their function is similar to that of the permit on a pet dog's collar. Dog tags are approximately 5cm in size and are often made of either aluminum or stainless steel. The identification includes the owner's full name, their date of birth, their gender, their blood type, the branch of the military they served under, their rank, their serial number, and their religion.
As part of the U.S. military, the wearing of dog tags was mandatory for members of FOXHOUND, the Next-Generation Special Forces, Green Berets, and U.S. Marines, operating in the field. U.S. Army operative Raiden threw away his dog tags shortly after the events of the Big Shell Incident, claiming to have never heard the name listed on them before.
Dog tags were also worn by various mercenary groups, such as the Gurlukovich Mercenaries. By 2014, Vamp of Outer Heaven carried five dog tags on his person. By 2018, dog tags were installed with ID chips, as a leftover from the then-long discontinued SOP system. The Desperado member Khamsin wore dog tags.
Behind the scenes
Dog tags briefly appear in the intro for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake alongside a combat knife.
The Premium Packages for both the Japanese and European versions of Metal Gear Solid include dog tags.
In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, almost all enemy soldiers carry collectable dog tags. For Sons of Liberty and Substance, if Solid Snake or Raiden holds up a guard, then threatens them by pointing a weapon at the guard's head or groin, he will give up an item. If that guard carries a dog tag, it will invariably be the first item. Some bosses also carry dog tags, either their own (such as Olga Gurlukovich) or that of another character (for example, Fatman carries Peter Stillman's dog tag). In the HD Edition, getting one dog tags will unlock the trophy Animal Control, while getting all dog tags will unlock the achievement/trophy Great Dane. Similarly, in keeping with the "dog" portion of the item's name, getting all of the items that are unlockable via a certain amount of dog tags will result in the trophies Yorkie (when getting the bandana), Beagle (for unlocking the brown wig), St. Bernard (for unlocking the Orange Wig), Poodle (for unlocking the Tanker Chapter stealth camouflage), and Shiba Inu (for unlocking the Plant Chapter stealth camouflage), all being types of dog breeds. The ending where Raiden throws away his dog tags was meant to be symbolic of him choosing his own path, due to the dog tags containing the information the player included early into the game.
- "Dog Tags
Select SPECIAL on title screen and enter Dog Tag Viewer mode to look at obtained dog tags."
- ―Dog Tags description in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Although dog tags do not appear in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, they are referenced by one of the GRU soldiers if interrogated, with the implication that they would not show their tags, even under duress.
In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, similar to Metal Gear Solid 3, dog tags don't actually appear in the main story, but they were briefly mentioned in a Codec conversation with Courtney Collins, regarding the definition of XIFF codes. The status of collecting them, however, returned in the form of collecting cyborg left hands from cyborg commanders. In addition, Khamsin in the Blade Wolf DLC possessed dog tags.
Both the 20th and 25th anniversaries for the Metal Gear series utilized dog tags as part of their logo (the former being the primary logo, and the latter reusing it for a secondary logo).
Acquisition and rewards
Whether or not an enemy soldier holds a dog tag can be realized in several ways. If there is indeed a dog tag on the guard's person, it will be indicated by a quick flash on their chest. It will also be clearly visible with Thermal Goggles. If a guard does not hold a dog tag, then none of these signs will appear, but this can be easily determined using the Scope or the Digital Camera: if the player presses the Punch button while looking at a guard through one of the aforementioned items, the guard's name will appear (provided Raiden/Snake has that dog tag).
If the player collects enough dog tags, they will be awarded a special item upon completion of the game, for use in their next playthrough on the same save file. This is only the case in Metal Gear Solid 2; although dog tags can be collected in The Twin Snakes, there is no reward for doing so.
The rewards for collected dog tags in Metal Gear Solid 2 are:
Tanker Chapter (cumulative of all difficulty levels)
Plant Chapter (cumulative of all difficulty levels)
- Infinity Wig (brown; infinite ammo) -- 73 dog tags (30%)
- Stealth (optic camouflage) -- 121 dog tags (50%)
- Wig B (orange; grip gauge will not diminish) -- 170 dog tags (70%)
- Wig A (blue; O2 gauge will not diminish) -- 218 dog tags (90%)
The names on all the regular dog tags are taken from Konami contest winners and the game's designers, and one dog tag in the Tanker chapter is named after J-Rock singer Gackt, who also did a Japanese television commercial for Metal Gear Solid 2. The player can find the Gackt dog tag on Easy mode at the Deck 2 Port in the Japanese and European versions. If viewed in the dog tag viewer, his blood type is AAA. Another one of the dog tag identities, Kaori Yae, referred to a character from the Konami-made dating sim Tokimeki Memorial 2.
As aforementioned, there are additional dog tags that can only be collected in unique circumstances. In addition to Olga and Fatman, Solid Snake, the dog tag of whom can only be collected by knocking him out and shaking him down after meeting him in Arsenal Gear, carries a different dog tag on each difficulty level: Iroquois Pliskin on Very Easy, Meryl Silverburgh on Easy, Solid Snake on Normal, Liquid Snake on Hard, and Hideo Kojima on Extreme/European Extreme. Each of these special dog tags can be obtained by shaking down the character's body after knocking them out (or, in Fatman's case, killing him). Specially required dog tags can also be procured in The Twin Snakes, with the bosses requiring them to be shaken up upon defeating them (i.e., Sniper Wolf and Psycho Mantis), present shortly after the battle (Vulcan Raven), or by knocking the boss off Metal Gear REX temporarily (Liquid Snake). In addition, similar to Iroquois Pliskin in Metal Gear Solid 2, the player can also acquire two dog tags from Meryl under specific circumstances: her own dog tag when tranquilizing her shortly before arriving at the door to the Commander's Room, and Johnny Sasaki's dog tag when tranquilizing her and shaking her up while she is still in her Genome Soldier disguise. Neither the dog tags carried by the bosses nor Meryl contain any information beyond their names, however.
Notes and references
- ^ Liquid Snake is seen wearing dog tags in his official artwork for Metal Gear Solid. He also wears them in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
- ^ Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (script), Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001)
Snake notices the ID tags around Raiden’s neck. // Solid Snake: By the way, what is that? // Raiden takes the dog tags off. // Raiden: Dog tags? // Raiden looks at the tags. They are marked with the name (max 12 letters), age, gender, and blood type that the user entered at the beginning of the game. Raiden looks to Snake for affirmation, but the latter, a smile on his face, shakes his head. Raiden looks at the tags once again. // Snake: Anyone you know? // Raiden closes his hand around the tags. // Raiden: No, never heard the name before. I’ll pick my own name -- -- and my own life. I’ll find something worth passing on. // He tosses the dog tags far away over the crowd. Snake smiles and nods. Raiden nods back, looking slightly abashed. Snake looks at Solidus’ body.
- ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
GRU soldier: "Even threatening... won't show their dog tags."
- ^ METAL GEAR SOLID2 -SONS OF LIBERTY-. Konami Digital Entertainment. Retrieved on 2013-08-18.