... just a couple of observations
Before Halo I was a PC FPS player and spent a stupid amount of time in Half Life and community mods. Then I downloaded the 'Silent Cartographer' demo level and was instantly converted. I went on to buy a second hand XBox to play Halo 2 and have continued to follow the Halo franchise ever since. I've also converted to console gaming.
It is absolutely true that an XBox 360 is nothing in graphics or processing power that a PC or a Mac can offer. But fwiw I simply can't be arsed fiddling around with graphics card settings, drivers, upgrades and all of that other stuff that is part of the PC gaming experience. I don't have much time to game - even less now my children camp out on Live in forge world or the minecraft clone they're playing - and the thought of spending any percentage of that time fiddling with PCs instead of having fun doesn't cut it with me. Both ODST and Reach graphics are more than sufficient to have a good time.
As to the sandbox criticism, I understand the comment having spent some time in Oblivion and Fallout (and Baldur's Gate, Morrowind, Neverwinter nights ...), and while it is true that the transition between battlefield set pieces is linear and ordered, once inside a battlefield the AI and weapon variations make for huge amounts of non-linearity. And when people refer to the 'Halo sandbox' they usually mean the overall game engine as a setting for custom map design. Slayer, CTF, Invasion, Zombies, Grifball, as solo, teams of 2, 4, 6, 8, or do you want to just race.
Each to their own as far as =getting= halo is concerned. Personally I adore all the nods to classic 70s space opera: the obvious links to Ringworld, Protector, Starship Troopers and even occasionally Forever War is just fantastic. I would have killed for this stuff when I was in my teens and I'm loving it now... each to their own.
Hopefully I'll get to return to installation 04 tonight when my son goes to bed. Mine's the ridiculously overcharged scoped magnum - I'm going to need it!