First, to get it out of the way: "Snake? SNAKE! SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!!" It's obligatory and would be impolite to not say, honestly.
I guess that's the power of Metal Gear Solid. It's truly a gaming enthusiast's series made with the cinematic enthusiasm of a Tarrantino, somebody who really wants to make art for art's sake. Ok, that last sentence might have been about as pretentious as the average MGS game, but where else does that happen regularly in gaming? Nintendo has its child-like innocence, and a other gaming series have their own trademarks, but nobody else does art like Hideo Kojima.
That said, I would call Metal Gear Solid 3 the best in the series. The first PlayStation MGS is groundbreaking, both in storytelling and in terms of its gameplay; the sneaking, the gadgets, the cardboard boxes were all unthought of before the game dropped. As well, the game's storytelling - the twists, the tricks (see the Psycho Mantis boss battle), the psychological drama - is unheard of compared to other games. Metal Gear Solid 2 was bizarre, with even more (and weirder) twists and turns in the story; MGS3 was a much-needed simplification.
Plus, MGS3 brought in some meaningful gameplay changes. Sure, the food and healing mechanics were kinda gimmicky, but certainly more interactive than just picking up a white box with a red cross on it and magically gaining health back. More importantly, though, the Subsistence version of the game implemented a much-needed overhead 3D camera, a necessity brought up by games like the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series. Also, the boss fights - specifically the dramatic sniper hide-and-go-seek with The End and the emotional finish against The Boss - were amazing. The story even made sense!
I was stuck at The Boss - my save was from last summer. It took five freaking tries to finally get her down and escape into the land of cut scenes to end the game. Well worth the time to finish off this amazing action game.
Especially as Grand Theft Auto IV is dropping tomorrow and could take my life away shortly...