I'm going to be honest here, I gave the original Splinter Cell a fair chance across ALL the major consoles. In fact, I couldn't wait to play SC when it was first announced and it almost made me want to buy an Xbox (this is before the other versions). Long story short, when it came out on Xbox I played it for maybe about an hour and I just couldn't get into it. Then I snagged a demo from KB Toys for the PS2 version (with the intention of maybe buying it later) and I didn't like that version either. I finally played the Gamecube version, which looked and controller better then the PS2 port, but I still didn't get into it.
Basically, I absolutely hate the controls, not to mention the typical "floaty jumps" of most third person action games. I also didn't like the "trial and error" gameplay. When you get caught by someone, that is basically it. I would try and try to hide and they would always get me (must have something to do with Sam's dorky green goggles). So once you get snagged, you might as well just get yourself killed.
I had no problems with SC's story and presentation, and any game with Michael Ironside as the hero is okay in my books. However I couldn't get past the controls, they just killed me. Maybe my love for MGS did wreck the SC series for me. But I can't help it, in contrast I love just playing MGS. In my eyes, its just a way more rewarding game. I played the demo of both MGS2 and 3 for hours, just goofing around and trying out every single crazy thing Snake can do. In SC, I would just sit there and become frustrated with it.
MGS does have a complicated control scheme, but once you wrap your mind around all those buttons, it plays fabulous. Snake's analog movement alone eclipses Sam's in every way. Hand a controller to someone who has never played a game before and they could probably move Snake across a room and into another one. Let the same person play SC and they would probably run into a bunch of walls first, get stuck behind a box, and then the camera would probably swing around and they would go out the same door they came out, thinking they went into the other room.
As for buying the game for Sith and him never playing it, don't worry, he never plays or watches anything people get him, it's not just you. Hahaha.