As far as Single player goes Halo: Combat Evolved is the best in the series. None of the other games have captured that same feeling Combat Evolved had. My guess is that even though there were other soldiers around, in Combat Evolved you felt alone. You were the last Spartan, and on a journey of redemption. But once Xbox Live came into the mix Halo went from being all about single player with an emphasis in online, to all out online. The story took a seat on the back burner, and multiplayer fanatics took over.
Fast forward to today, and you have Halo Reach, the first game in the series since the original to correct things. Don't get me wrong Halo Reach is all about multiplayer like the previous numbered series, as well as the spin off ODST. But for once the story is good.
Halo Reach is a prequel that takes place before any of the other games in the series. The Spartans are all alive and inhabiting Planet Reach, but unknown to them the Covenant is planning a massive attack on the Planet Reach in order to eliminate the Spartan's. Over the game there are a couple of emotional and dire scenes and scenarios. These scenes are what put Halo Reach over all of the other Halo titles. For once the single player has feeling. Halo finally stepped into the 21st century and obtained movie like presentation, to help the story and characters along. Some characters make cameos, or rather first appearances since it does take placer before the other games, and it's nice to see how your actions lead up to Halo Combat Evolved.
Gameplay. Halo has always had great controls, and Reach is no different. The controls are precise, responsive, and take not time getting use to. However, I was never a huge fan of how Halo moves. It's too slow for me, and the floaty jump annoyed me, but for some reason none of these things bother me in Halo Reach. That's because of the loadouts. The loadouts allow your Spartan to sprint, fly via jetpacks, drop shields, and more and really bring so much needed diversity to the Halo franchise. The weapons are all fun to use, and the vehicles control and handle well most of the time.
Graphically Halo Reach is the first game to step it up since the original Xbox days. Halo 3 looked fine, but was honestly a disappointment for what many consider to be Microsoft's flagship title, and ODST wasn't any better. But Reach is on another level. Armor's look great, character models look great, and the world itself looks great especially considering how large each level is.
Halo has always had great audio as well. The orchestral music makes a thankful return after the Jazz from ODST. The weapons sound great, and the voice actors for almost everyone are great as well.
Now for the online. There's no way to write about Halo's online without writing a book over it. There's just so many options and so many things to do, that it's nearly overwhelming. You have Generator Defense, Invasion, Head Hunter, Stockpile, Slayer, Capture the Flag, Firefight, 4 player co-op single player campaign, and each mode is a blast to play. Then you have Forge which allows you to tweak and edit stages, and some amazing things have been done with Forge already such as Mongoose racing maps, and first person mazes (I wonder has someone made a map of plasma swords and shotguns in a maze, hummm, I might have to do that). Back on topic I was completely shocked that I spent more time in Halo Reach's multiplayer and enjoyed it more than I did the single player. The multiplayer is truly amazing and Forge mode is Halo's own version of Little Big Planet lite.
Overall I have mixed feelings about Halo Reach. I thought the single player was good, but again nothing special, but I felt that the multiplayer was phenomenal. Generally I review a game based on it's single player, but in all honestly I feel Halo is now a multiplayer game with a single player added as a bonus, and looking at it from that perspective I think Halo Reach is the best game in the franchise, and also the best first person shooter on the Xbox 360.