Be gentle, it has been a terribly long time since I've posted here. Like others, I agree it's a big step up from Halo 3. I enjoy that they have brought back a pistol that is useful and sort of gotten into load-outs. I feel like it has that classic Halo gameplay I loved so much in the first 2 games, but I feel like this game has an identity crisis between the old and the new.
In some ways Reach is trying to be like modern shooters such as Modern Warfare 2, but also trying to stick with it's classic gameplay model. Additions like load-outs is a nice touch, but then just like every other Halo, you still find maps littered with weapons. Bungie can you please just choose already? What kind of a game do you want to be? Either go with full out load-outs with unlockable weapons, items, etc, or just stick with what you know.
This really creates balancing issues with the game and hopefully they will tweak the balancing a lot before the full version comes out. I feel like the new "armament-abilities" are very unbalanced and a bit of a gimmick just like equipment was in Halo 3. They aren't necessary for a fun Halo experience. Certain items such as the rocket pack don't seem very helpful compared with being invisible. Going back to Halo Reach's identity crisis for a minute, the control scheme for aiming and everything feels outdated as well, and running should be a standard ability not some tacked-on armament.
Overall, the updated engine and new weapons are really fun, and their matchmaking system is top notch as always. Bungie is at odds with this title. If they fully embrace the modern era of the fps, then they might have a shot at something fresh and amazing. If they decide to stick with their classic Halo experience, dedicated fans with certainly be happy, but I think it will alienate newcomers to the franchise. It's a tall order, but if they can do all of that, we will see something of true greatness from Bungie yet.