PS2 Modding Guide for 2020

PS2 MODDING GUIDE

In this guide PS2 modding guide, I will take you through the steps needed to soft mod your PS2. I will show you how to use a DVD to launch Homebrew and install Free McBoot to your memory card, how to back up your Games and how to run PS2 game backups on your PS2.

This should work on all models of the PS2 and PS2 Slim besides any that are model number 9xxxx, you can spot these easily as they have a glossy top half on the console. Slim consoles with a gloss band running up the middle are fine.

Please check what version of DVD firmware you have, if you have an incompatible DVD firmware you will need to install Free Mc Boot to your memory card another way or buy one preinstalled from Amazon

You can find out what version firmware your PS2 has below.

Why Mod Your PS2?

Soft modding your PS2 has several benefits including the ability to play backups and emulators. You will be able to load your games from USB, internal HDD (Fat model only) and over the network.

This will help save your PS2’s laser as well as wear on your game discs.

Preparation

These are the things you will need to hack your PS2: –

PS2 (I will be using a PS2 slim for this guide)

PS2 Memory Card

1 x DVD-R

PC or Mac (to burn our DVD-R)

USB Storage drive

Optional – Raspberry Pi and Micro SD card

How to Mod Your PS2 - Method

The first thing we need to when modding our PS2 is to determine what firmware our PS2’s DVD Player has. To do this we need to boot up our PS2 with no disc inserted. Once at the screen with options for ‘Browser and System Configuration’ press the triangle button to be taken to the version information screen. We are interested in our version of DVD player: –

ps2 hacking guide firmware

As we can see, my version is 3.11E. Take note of that as we will need to make sure we download the correct files for our version. Head over to CTurt’s Github to download the latest version of FreeDVDBoot, we will be using this an entry point which will allow us to install Free Mcboot on our memory card.

Over at the FreeDVDBoot GitHub, navigate to PREBUILT ISOs and select the appropriate version for your PS2. As mine is 3.11E, I click on 3.11 to download the ISO. If your version is not yet listed, I am afraid you will have to wait until it is supported or seek out another method as I mentioned above.

Now we have our ISO image downloaded, move it into a folder to keep it safe. We will now be burning this ISO file to a DVD-R. I recommend using Verbatim, they are reliable disc’s that I have been using for years.

You can burn your ISO to disk with any program you like, I prefer to use ImgBurn which you can download from one of the mirrors here.

Once installed, insert your blank DVD-r into your PC’s drive and open up ImgBurn. From here choose ‘Write Image file to disc’ and then click the yellow folder icon to select our ISO file. PS2 drives like low speeds for discs, so with our ISO file selected, change the write speed in the bottom right corner to the lowest your drive can go.

Make sure the ‘Verify’ box is ticked and click the image below to start burning FreeDVDBoot to our DVD. This may take a few minutes, leave the disc in until the file contents have been verified, you will know when this is completed as a jingle will sound on your PC. Eject your burnt DVD from your PC and insert it into your PS2.

ps2 hacking guide freedvdboot

Our disc will appear as a DVD in the browser, select it to load up FreeDVDBoot. This may take 30 seconds or so to load, so please be patient.  If all goes well, we will be booted into LaunchELF, from here we can install Free McBoot, but first, we need to head back over to our PC to grab a few files and put them onto a USB Thumb drive.

ps2 hack launch elf

Installing Free McBoot to Your Memory Card

We will be installing the latest version of Free McBoot to your memory card. Download the latest version of Free McBoot from here and move this over to a folder on your PC.

Insert your USB drive and format it to be FAT32, to do this right-click on the drive in windows explorer and click ‘Format’. Make sure FAT32 is selected under the file system and click start.

Extract the contents of the FMCB-xxxxx.7z using a program like WinRAR OR 7-Zip. Drag or copy of the folder over to your USB drive. It should look something like this: –

Eject your USB drive and insert it into the USB port on your PS2.

Load up LaunchELF using your FreeDVDBoot, press circle to enter the file browser and navigate to ‘mass:/’ (for USB mass storage) and press circle once again. Inside the FMCB folder, we will find a file named ‘FMCBInstaller.elf’, press circle one last time to launch it.

We will then be inside the installer for Free Mc Boot. This time, pressing X, choose Install. Choose what memory card slot you want to install Free Mc Boot to and press X once again.

You will be prompted for what type of installation you want, Normal, Cross-regional or Cross-model. Unless you intended to use this Free Mc Boot installation on another console, choose Normal.

Free Mc Boot will begin to install to your memory card. Once completed press X to select OK and head down to exit. This will take you back to the PS2’s browser and we can take out our DVD now.

Tap the power button to reset the console and Free Mc Boot should now automatically launch from the memory card. We no longer need the disc anymore!

The good thing about Free Mc Boot & FreeDVDBoot is neither program makes permanent modifications to your system. If you want your PS2 to launch stock simply take out the Memory Card.

How to Load PS2 Backups

Now that we have FMCB stored on our memory card it is a lot easier to load homebrew, in fact, you already have loaded LaunchELF using FreeDVDBoot which, in turn, you used to install FMCB to your memory card.

To launch PS2 game backups we will need to install another homebrew called OPL. To do this we need to download and extract the files just like we did with the FMCB installer. You can download OPL from here

Once downloaded, extract the folder and look for the ‘OPL 0.9.3’ folder inside (or whatever the latest release is) and copy this over to your USB drive.

PS2 Hacking Guide OPL install

Insert your USB drive back into your PS2, let FMCB launch and head down to ‘LaucnhELF’ and press X to Launch it. once loaded press O to enter the file browser, from here navigate to Mass:/ and into our folder ‘OPL 0.9.3’.  Inside head down to the .ELF file, while over it press R1 to open the menu, select ‘copy’ and press O.

Press Triangle a few times to return to the main part of the file explorer, from here head into ‘mc0:/’ and head into the ‘Boot’ folder. In here press ‘R1’ but this time select Paste. This will take a few seconds to copy across from your USB card to your memory card.

ps2 hacking guide paste

Now that we have OPL on our memory card we will configure FMCB to have a shortcut from its menu. Press reset on your PS2 to load up FMCB and head down to ‘Free MCBoot Configurator’

Press X to open this menu, you’ll be prompted to select your button layout, simply press X. After that head down to the option ‘Configure OSDSYS options…’ and press X.

Chose ‘configure Item’ and press right until you find a blank space, mine here is number 6.

Press X once again and in the next page, we want to set a name and also set the path of where we put our OPL file.

Press X with Name selected and input whatever you want to call the shortcut. I’ve gone with OPL.

Under path, we want to navigate to mc0:/BOOT/OPL 0.9.3.ELF and press X.

Press triangle twice and head down and select ‘Save CNF to MC0’, some red text will appear at the top of the screen if the configuration is saved successfully.

Head down to exit and press X. This will take you back to the PS2’s browser. Press O to go back, scroll down and you will now notice we have successfully installed OPL to our memory card.

Now we have OPL installed we can get some games running, but first we are going to need an ISO file of the game we want to load. For the sake of this tutorial, I will be making a backup of the second-best Silent Hill game, Silent Hill 2.

How to Back up a PS2 Game

To back up a PS2 game I recommend using ImgBurn. Open ImgBurn as we did before, but this time select ‘Create Image File from disc’.

Make sure your PS2 game is in your PC’s drive and it should be auto-detected. Click the icon in the bottom left corner to begin copying the game.

The amount of time this will take varies on the speed of your drive. For Silent Hill 2, this took my machine about 8 minutes.

Once your ISO is ready you may want to rename it, I went with ‘Silent Hill 2.iso’. Try not to make the name too long or use any special characters as OPL may not like this!

** As we are formatted in FAT32, there is a file size limit of 4GB. Any ISO’s that are bigger will need to be split with a program such as USBUtil which can be found here. **

Now we have out ISO file, copy it to your USB drive and you’ll be able to load it in OPL. With your ISO copied over, head into OPL. We need to quickly change a couple of settings. 

OPL should have automatically created the following folders on your USB drive. If they are not there then create them manually. Silent Hill 2 is a DVD I put the ISO into the DVD folder. Any game that has a blue-ish / purple bottom is a CD, the first Timesplitters for example would be put into the CD folder.

Head into OPL’s settings and change USB device start mode to Manual and change Default Menu to USB Games.

Press OK and then head down to Save changes which will save your config file. Press O to take you to the USB Games folder, then press X to Start your USB device. From here OPL should see your game.