I'm always late to the party on great games - I just beat Bioshock for the first time a month ago, I got a 360 two and a half years after it came out, and the entire Clover library was totally lost on me until they were, unfortunately, already defunct. In keeping with this tradition, I played Metal Gear Solid 1 and 3 over the summer for the first time each, and I recently finished Braid for the first time (without using a walkthrough once! Awesome!) I have heard that 2 and 4 are very similar to 1 and 3 in terms of gameplay, and I have seen the storylines of each through alternate methods such as Wikipedia and YouTube.
Metal Gear Solid 1 and 3 are some of the worst games I have ever played. Braid is one of the best.
Here is why.
1. Braid's storyline is completely optional.
Braid's storyline is told in the forms of books in each level that can easily be walked past, paintings that you don't have to look at, and challenges that don't have to be completed. While the game is tons more rewarding if you do follow the story, and learn what drives Tim to save this "princess", revealing an absolutely heartbreaking and truly disturbing ending, you can simply focus on the nice visuals and tricky puzzles if you choose.
Metal Gear Solid's storyline is Hideo Kojima shouting "OPEN UP YA, OPEN UP YA, OPEN UP YA THROAT" and then shoving a ton of nonsense down your esophagus through cutscenes that can take up to a whole hour. These cutscenes are also "skippable", yes, but they still bring in long loading times (long and retarded INSTALL times in the case of MGS4 on TOP of the fucking ridiculous load times), and the requirement of stopping all immersion to jump over a hurdle that just plain isn't necessary and completely kills flow, by having you either A) sit still for a while watching a completely fucking HORRENDOUS storyline explain itself to you or B) wait for something to load, press a button to skip that loading time's reward, and then sit through another loading screen.
2. Braid is natural and free-flowing.
Braid has no unskippable sections of the game, and, in fact, no cutscenes. If you want to find out the story, then you have to solve all of the puzzles, but if you do not you can pick and choose which puzzles you want to solve. Everything in Braid has a logical conclusion, one which can be reached using the logic presented to you.
Metal Gear Solid relies on cheap, retarded gimmicks that make the experience even more shallow than it already is, ones that are incredibly difficult to figure out yourself even if you keep trying. How many people out there can honestly say they've beaten Metal Gear Solid 1 without looking up the answers to some of the ridiculous puzzles (I have to put my controller in another slot and then somehow he can't read my mind!? THAT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE!
). The puzzles in Metal Gear Solid have answers that are completely beyond the realms of logic and often have no explanation of why they work in the first place.
3. Braid is simple.
Braid's controls consist of A to jump, X to rewind time, B to open doors and turn cranks, and the Control Stick to move. Y is used in another level, but only one. Left and Right bumpers can be totally ignored throughout the entire game. These controls are exactly what you'd expect, something familiar and natural to explore a bizarre, unfamiliar, but still clever world.
Metal Gear Solid's controls are ham-handed and awkward. (L and R to access my fucking inventory?) Metal Gear Solid's controls are built for what the games are supposed to be about - sneaking and stealth - when fucking 80% of the game is dedicated to one-on-one boss battles, in which you have to press three buttons to fire a gun at somebody. Flimsy, fumbling messes of controls are not - absolutely NOT - an acceptable substitute for shitty-ass level design consisting entirely of hallways, doors, and completely square areas. If you have no controls, you have no game. This could perhaps be acceptable in Silent Hill, where one would be excepted to be fumbling and awkward with a weapon, as any normal person in real life would. But Solid Snake is a trained fucking government agent. There's no excuse for this shit.
To excuse the fact that the controls are atrocious, a lot of the bosses in Metal Gear Solid bosses (which, again, make up 80% of the game) are scaled down to piss-poor easiness. But to keep the bosses from being too easy, they rely on horrendous gimmicks that, again, are totally without logic. Horror stories abound of those who spent 45 minutes fighting The End in Metal Gear Solid 3, 45 minutes of boring "Snipe. Move. Snipe. Move. Snipe. Move." You can skip this by exiting the game, entering your Playstation's Main fucking Menu and setting the time ahead a week, but how the fuck are we supposed to think this is clever? Shouldn't we be outraged at such a horrible design decision? Psycho Mantis is one of the easiest bosses of all time, however, this is remedied by the fact that you have to get up and unplug your controller and replug it into a different slot or else he is literally invincible, and he can completely blank out the whole screen and give you hallucinations for him to get in some free hits. This isn't a challenge. This is frustrating. This is just utter fucking bullshit.
Many people accuse the newest Prince of Persia as having an instant respawn gimmick to cover bad level design. So why do they excuse Metal Gear Solid of having painfully awful game design decisions to try and cover up horrible controls? Like Prince of Persia, Metal Gear Solid dedicates quite a bit of the game to one-on-one boss fights - although MGS TONS more so - but PoP completely alters its gameplay style to allow for these situations, stringing together fantastic and impressive combos in a beautiful art style, and the one-on-one confrontations are made such so that fighting enemies makes them seem like a real threat, not just Henchman #1426723. In MGS, the controls are totally unaltered, leaving a horrible experience of fumbling and fighting with your own controller in an attempt to maybe get off one shot at your opponent, and the constant upon constant boss fights are a result of awful and atrocious game design instead of a conscious decision.
Braid is a game of logic that requires you to think, and feel good about yourself when you solve the puzzle. MGS is a game that requires you to look up the solution on GameFAQs so you can just fucking get on with it already.