Operation Snake Eater
The gameplay in Snake Eater is reflective of its predecessors. Controls are basically the same as before, albeit the additions of CQC and throat-slitting. The control scheme might be quite daunting for beginners, but given the multiplicity of actions one might take, it's organized well enough, but just takes a bit of getting used to.
The other major difference from previous Metal Gear games is the jungle setting of MGS3 - the levels are much more expansive, and you no longer have your trusty radar to you locate your threats. The feeling of stalking guards by crawling through the brush in camouflage gives the gameplay a very visceral, primal feeling, much like a hunter and his prey.
As for detractors, the camera is quite annoying, and does seem anachronistic in the age of 3-D cameras. You will frequently become disoriented switching between first-person and third-person, and that aspect can be annoying in a boss fight.
Annoyances aside, I did not expect there to be so much action in this game. The last 10 hours are a non-stop rollercoaster thrillride - I literally did not put my controller down, and finished the last part in one sitting. The boss fights are superb, save for the first boss. They're well designed, creative, and definitely memorable.
The graphics in this game are superb -- some of the best in a Playstation 2 game. Zoom up on a character model's face, and you will see (despite those who claim otherwise) that they look just as good as the cutscenes.
Sound is also very good, especially the voice acting and the cutscene sounds. However, some of the guns sound a bit fake, and I think Kojima could have improved upon this aspect. Some of the menu sounds also give off a tone of goofiness, and seems out of place in the setting.
This is a meaty game; about 2-3 times as long as MGS2. The beautifully-told story also adds tremendous value to the overall experience. Kojima's storytelling ability and his cinematographic skill enable him to utilize the best aspects of the film medium to tell a powerful and memorable story.
If you have a PS2, you must experience Metal Gear Solid 3. You'll probably want to purchase MGS3: Subsistence, though, since it impliments a 3-D camera and adds a ton of other features. Regardless, the bottom line remains: MGS3's single-player mission is a masterpiece in videogame design.