Semi-professional menu designer here. The time it takes to a.) pause and b.) get through each menu is horrible, relative to the frequency at which you use them.
Imagine if pausing the game was instantaneous. If you pressed START and that menu popped up immediately, and there was no loading between submenus, the game would objectively be a better experience. I haven't played MGS3 in a few months but in my memory of playing the HD version on Xbox 360:
- Just pausing the game takes about 1-1.5 seconds
- Moving your cursor down to the "CAMO" menu takes about 1-1.5 seconds
- Changing to the "CAMO" screen is more or less instantaneous
- Moving your cursor to one of the two sub-options takes about 0.5-1.5 seconds
- Choosing the correct camouflage pattern for the situation takes anywhere from 1 to maybe like 5 seconds, depending on how full your camo list is
- Then you have to press the "CANCEL" button on your gamepad a few times to back out of all of these menus (1-2 seconds)
These times are estimates and, like I said, I haven't played MGS3 in a few months. But this sort of thing is incredibly frustrating from a user experience perspective. Imagine if, instead, you could press a dedicated button on the controller to change your camo, and from there, a series of radial menus let you choose the best camo for the situation. It would be literally the same exact mechanics, but reduce a maybe 10-20 second operation to a five-second one.
I guess it depends on how you play the game, but I changed camo a lot, and I always tended to my wounds when I got them. This made the game more tedious than anything.
Also, changing your backpack items could be so much better. As far as "menu design" goes, the MGS1/MGS2 system of "hold a damn trigger down and pick the thing you want" is pretty alright. Again, with perhaps a radial menu or something, it could be slightly improved, but when you only have sixteen or so items on each trigger, and you can change between them by holding the trigger down (which pauses the game [crucial!]) at any time, it lets the player do what they want to do in the game that much easier and efficient.
Visually, I love the look of the menus. The desaturated amber color scheme that MGS3 uses is super cool. Also, the Metal Gear games pretty much all have great menu sound effects, and MGS3 is no exception.