A farewell to arms.
As the last Halo title that developer Bungie plans to develop for the foreseeable future, Halo Reach had a lot of hype to live up too. It not only lives up to that hype, but it exceeds what was expected. The game offers an absolute plethora of content, giving players something to do at all times. At the time of this writing, I am at the highest possible rank for now, but the allure of the daily challenges keeps pulling me back in for more, and the stellar gameplay keeps me playing long past the completion of said challenges.
The campaign is a fairly meaty 7 to 8 hour affair, about the norm for FPS campaigns these days. During the course of the campaign, you'll take out monstrously oversized mortar cannons, board a covenant cruiser, defend a space station, assist in the evacuation of citizens, and more. The reintroduction of health packs means combat is a more calculated machine, requiring players to strategize beyond "Shoot at the aliens, hide behind a rock until your healthy again, and then shoot more aliens.". Yes, shooting aliens is still the main focus, but what weapons you'll use, how aggressive you'll be in your attack, and so forth are all things you'll be considering a lot more than you did in Halo 3. You can't just run in guns blazing and hope for the best if you want to be victorious.
Of course, multiplayer is a different animal. Health packs are much more scarce, meaning map control has evolved past making sure you have control of the power weapons and now controlling both power weapons and health pack spawns. In addition, the armor abilities play a bigger role in multiplayer than they do in single player, because every ability can be used to benefit yourself or your team differently. Need to survive a grenade barrage? Armor Lock will let you walk away without a scratch. Lost your fire support and low on health? A drop shield will allow you to regenerate health on the spot, for yourself and your teammates. Everything ties in to each other to provide a LOT more ways to strategize than in earlier titles.
Everything you do earns you credits, as well. These credits accumulate to raise your rank, and you can spend them on new cosmetic pieces for your character. You can buy new helmets, chest pieces, shoulder pads, wrist pieces, utilities, knee pads, visor colors, and even special effects and voices. Want to increase how many credits your pulling in? Every day Bungie rolls out new daily challenges, giving players new things to focus on besides simply kicking ass, and completing a challenge gives you a healthy amount of credits. On top of the daily challenges are weekly challenges that usually offer much higher credit payouts for a more difficult task.
Matchmaking has expanded to cover co-op campaign, versus, and firefight, so you will always be able to find people to play with. And considering how much stuff there is to do in this game, the community will be around for quite a while. If you own an Xbox 360 and haven't bought this game yet, do yourself a favor and do so right now.