I don't know if there is a gaming forum that OT hosts or not but I do remember a time when we were conversing about it so here it goes.
Halo Commercials are consistently awesome, they tell a story, they are engaging, they have good sound tracks. However the new Halo Reach commercial definitely conjures memories of both pearl harbor and 9/11, not that it's a bad thing, it just is an interesting phenomena. It even says 'Remember Reach', a 9/11, alamo, D-Day, Pearl Harbor homage. A good commercial with the right attitude but still something so impacting being used to promote a video game raises some interesting questions.
I will agree with you only on the soundtrack. The commercials are nice and slickly produced, but that's about it. Halo stories are dopey, run of the mill, generic as hell sci-fi videogame tales. It boggles my mind that so many people can be wrapped up in the fiction of Halo (extending to books and movies), or any part of it beyond the admittedly stellar multiplayer.
I actually just played Halo 3 for the first time about 4 months ago, just to see what all the fuss was about.
Admittedly, it is only one game in an entire series/saga, but I found the story-telling to be pretty much who cares, and being a person who will wander about in game spaces oohing and ahhing over pretty graphics, those on display in Halo 3 were nothing special and I didn't find myself a single time awe-struck by anything I was seeing.
I also tried Halo ODST for 4 or 5 hours and decided the Halo universe just wasn't one I was interested in.
However, in regards to the marketing, they do have some really well-produced and directed short films - but since I don't care, they just come off as fluff to me. In the current campaign I've only seen the one where the kid is recruited - which was actually sort of scary in a Full Metal Jacket/brain washing kind of way that didn't seem to be intended.
HALO REACH is what you would expect from a HALO game. The multiplayer is improved. Game play single player if you play on the harder levels makes you want to break your controller as the AI is smarter.
Yeah I don't know too much about the HALO fiction, but I did spend quite a while playing the first game in college, and the others are pretty solid from what I've seen, only played Halo 1, a little of 2 and Halo 3. I'm still a big fan of their commercials though.