i mainly use maya for ghetto ut2004 mods. i dont think the animation is as good as studio max. its very professional to say the least you will have to do a lot of work to learn it. i just have the free edition dont think that the other versions are worth the 600 or so dollars
i think 3d studio max is a little less feature rich but it much simpler. i really wouldn't recommend it to newbies but if you think that 3D studio is semi easy then maya should give you a run for your money.
BTW my skins SUCK lol all i can really make is the tin can. i did make a pretty sweet pac man with the animatation as he walked too
the skin looks horrible though