I have never played the original so I cannot compare this excellent remake version for the Gamecube to that but if you are looking for an introduction to the series, this game is probably the best you can get. Silicon Knights has done a good job with upgrading the classic even if Snake looks a little softer than he does in MGS2 and Ruyhei Kitamura's (a japanese film director friend of Kojima) interpretation of the cutscenes might even be superior to Kojima's own work in my opinion, but some see it as a bit too much over the top.
The reason that this remake of the first game in the Metal Gear Solid series is, in my opinion, the best introduction to the series is that the plot is not as hard to understand as MGS2 was.
The story is a more traditional action-movie type affair but has it's share of suprises and the philosophical message that is essential to all MGS games.
That alone is to be applauded because I can't think of many games outside of the MGS series trying to actually convey a message and that alone is a reason to get to know this series.