But...Jacob....WHAT. The campaign in Reach is just.....so poor compared to the other Halos. They tried to concentrate on the characters which is admirable but frankly they failed in my eyes. Halo has always been about the universe, and Reach didn't have many epic defining moments that I could list from the other games. Plus there was virtually no story development. We found out a couple of new things at the end but nothing to really get too excited about.
I think this is also indicative of where you and I differ overall on the Halo series. You're very passionate about the series mythology, whereas I just don't care.
The first few Halo campaigns felt like you were just doing the same thing over and over again. And over again. I thought Reach's gameplay though was phenomenally diverse. Mission variety was solid all the way throughout, and even those times where you were just corridor shooting, the armor abilities kept things interesting.
Oh yeah. And I got to fly a spaceship like freaking Rogue Squadron.
The level design for me is the biggest improvement -- even those times you're just mowing down guys in a corridor, they still manage to give you tactical options. Flank to the right, armor lock and charge through the middle, or sprint to different cover points etc. The Reach campaign has a strong level of variety and choice that the other Halo campaigns lack. Some may dispute this, saying that the other campaigns offered just as much choice in your movements, but the new armor abilities really allow you to exploit them much better.
I can understand your disappointment with the story. I enjoyed it personally -- liked how they chose to focus the story on a smaller group. Sorta like Band of Brothers in space (ha). I'll agree with you that character development was weak though. I grew to like all the characters, but it was hard to get too emotionally attached with any of them. In the realm of shooters, the story is more than adequate, but its not going to win any awards.
This post ended up much longer than I intended.