I admit, I had gotten Halo 3 on it's midnight release... I was lured in by everyone saying how it'd be the best of the series, how there were so many new guns, the ability to customize your character, and this 'Forge' system which allowed people to make levels to play in. The ability to customize character wasn't bad, but the new guns weren't all that good, several of the small ones being duplicates/alternates of other guns. They came up with the original 'Forge' system which was touted to be something you could make new levels with, but was really something to edit existing levels... It sucked, basically.
I had heard some things about Halo: Reach and I just felt kinda disgusted that people were getting so hyped up about another Halo game... For one thing, changing things on existing weapons like appearances and sounds for a PREQUEL should NOT be done, as the weaponry is NOT being upgraded but DOWNGRADED as they're early in the time-line. They DO fix this a bit by having the battle rifle switched with a semi-auto 'DMR' in it's place, as one weapon that's used before Halo and beyond.
One thing that changed my mind about Halo: Reach was seeing the video of 'Forge World' which looks even more complex than TimeSplitters series 'Map Maker' system. It's something that actually allows you to make whole levels based off base terrains, instead of trying to manipulate levels made by the programmers, and unlike the 'Map Maker' system you're focused not on hallways and rooms but instead on massive or tiny outdoor areas. You get to place parts, items, and vehicles wherever you want, however you want, even being able to shift gravity as you see fit.
When I saw the map creation system, I started getting interested in Halo: Reach, though I knew that I had had bad experience with the series very early on, and hadn't really given it a chance... Another problem was that I didn't know anything about the story, finding the third game quite confusing. My clan leader Red asked if I wanted to play through the series before I get Halo: Reach, and I realized that I had never really given the series any chance after my difficulties with the first game, especially with friends beating me down in multiplayer. I still believe TimeSplitters to be a better series, but I figured that I may as well try out the whole series from first to last so I get used to the controls/physics and weaponry, as well as learn the story from the very beginning.
So, started with Halo, going through it on Normal difficulty, and watching Red drive the Warthog many places it was not designed to go, and giving each other therapeutic back massages, aka assassinations when one or the other was badly hurt without enemies around... Admittedly, the story was decent, but I had seen better in other FPSes, though it still had a clearer plot than CoD: MW2!
After playing through that, I went through Halo 2 in a day, Red helping again, and this one on Heroic difficulty. It was definitely a pain in the ass at parts, especially with the Flood being immune to just about everything you throw at them, though the story was certainly decent, and a bit better than the previous game. The variety of guns was alright, probably about as good as you could get without having weapons overlapping. The graphics were pretty good, definitely holding up to the test of time for now...
And finally, I played Halo 3, this one on Legendary, with Red and the help of some others, though everyone we'd recruit would leave after a couple levels. I thought that the game was designed specifically for two or more players, especially with the annoying GROUPS of Brutes that eat rounds even AFTER their shields are depleted. Beyond Brute grouping, they finally got everything quite balanced out, I think, with enough weapons and vehicles to fit a wide variety of different scenarios. The story worked to bring everything to a close, and Master Chief once again showed that he is a character without character. I admit, I don't think that they should have added so many extra weapons, though, with many of the brute weapons besides the gravity hammer being useless or one-handed doubles of some other already-existing weapons. I DO enjoy the concept of customizing armor colors AND parts as was first introduced in Halo 3, and I'm glad they're continuing with Halo: Reach a more complex system of customization.
One thing regarding Halo 3 that I wasn't a fan of, wasn't actually because of the game itself; I had bought a strategy guide made by Piggyback as the official guide for the game, and found quite a few bits of information missing from the guide because the company making the guide were pussies that took Bungie's suggestions/orders to keep information away from the players, like how to unlock most of the armor parts, where to find the game-changing Skulls hidden in the levels, and other bits of info.
After speaking of that, looking through the Legendary edition of the Halo: Reach guide that I just got shipped, I can tell that they are not leaving out ANY kind of information, letting people know about how to unlock parts, what they're worth, the different vehicles and weapons, level strategies, locations of 'data pads', and more. Obviously Brady Games isn't run by pussies who bend to Bungie's will of making gamers clueless about parts of their game, and they give ALL the information they can.
After all that, I decided to try my hand at playing online with Halo 3, and I found the experience... surprising. The weapons and combat system are actually very balanced, and it's far easier to get into the game and play online than I thought it would be. I found that I was actually quite good at playing online, able to hold my own against other people. The game is FAR less annoying than I remember Halo being in the first place, probably because I'm not playing with Blue and having him being a dick...
The only problems I have with the Halo series at this point, is that Master Chief has little character, the in-game story could be a bit better (though the extra stuff made for the series like books, comics, Halo: Legends and the like give the whole Halo Universe a LOT of good, interesting back-story), and that the shotgun has never been anything more than a longer-range melee weapon... Honestly, if you're going to make a shotgun that inaccurate, you should at least make it fully-automatic; ALL ranged weapons, even close range, should have an effective range FARTHER than that of butt-fucking distance.
Well, Halo: Reach is coming next week, and I can't wait. The combat system works, they're removing several crappy brute weapons for useful covenant-type weapons and a few human guns, and they're putting in a proper level-creation system and a beautifully-complex character customization system. All in all, I can't wait to get my hands on Halo: Reach and fight alongside my friends to stop the destruction of Reach.