In this new series of opinion pieces, some of Eurogamer's favourite writers reveal how they really feel about some of the world's most renowned, or most reviled, videogames.
To kick us off, Will Porter explains why he hates Bungie's blockbuster shooters - and why he can't stop playing them. (NB: If you're still working your way through the series, beware of spoilers.)
Hate is a strong word. I can't hate a series when I've played all of its games and, moment to moment, enjoyed myself. I love that tank level they always do. The bit where you're going around in a Warthog or stealing those purple Ghost things is amazing on grass, snow or even in an oddly sterile futuro-city.
The guns are great. The engine gets ever more impressive. The character design is top-notch. The alien worlds are utterly beautiful. The wonky gravity is oddly appealing. I can see the multiplayer appeal. I also really like the way Cortana is simultaneously purple, see-through AND sexy.
So why does Halo make me so angry? Why do I bang on pub tables and shout at bemused Wetherspoons patrons about it?
Well, because I never know what the hell is going on. What's more, this otherwise remarkable game never tries hard to enough to make me care about what the hell is going on.
I've completed every single Halo game but I couldn't really tell you what the Covenant's beef is, apart from being holier than thou. I have no idea why the Arbiter turns goodie or what a Halo is really for.
At no stage of playing Reach did I understand what was going on, apart from the fact my increasingly meagre squad had been given a magic doofer by a bit-part scientist and had to carry it somewhere iconic.
Remember Reach? Well Bungie, you'll have to explain to me just what Reach is beyond a couple of casual cut-scene mentions a couple of games back. Perhaps over an intimate Powerpoint presentation. Then we can talk.
And no, I won't read the bloody books.
I think the problem with Halo's story emerges after the first game. For those who don't dedicate themselves to a lifetime of Halo-related pursuits, and who might forget plot details from game to game, there's no discernible beginning, middle or end to the story proper.
Throughout Halos 2 and 3, and to an extent ODST and Reach, a splurge of linear events unfold in a game with level patterns hugely reminiscent of earlier warthog forays, Scorpion battles, Banshee flights, descents into alien installations and surprise appearances from the one-trick pony that is the Flood.
Sure, sometimes there are two Scarabs (!) or there's a neat-o bit in space - but everything else feels like slipping into a nice warm gameplay bath before donning a pair of comfortable slippers.
The old Bungie adage of Halo gameplay being the same 30 seconds of brilliant action continued ad infinitum is fine and everything, but that rinse and repeat cycle plays havoc with the brain. Halo is built on familiarity, and familiarity is not conducive to memorable moments or intriguing plot points.
Halo is vast, confusing and messy. For some reason, exposition goes out the window when each game gets up to speed - unless that exposition is to do with taking down shields, blowing stuff up, fetching something or moving something from geometrically designed alien outpost A to exploded spaceship B.
The minutiae get attention, sure. But no-one ever thinks to slow stuff down and explain the current state of the Halo Universe to newcomers, or to people who completed the last game while drunk.
Perhaps 'Last time! On Halo!' introductions would be a little extreme. I wouldn't have enjoyed Halo 3 explaining its conclusion six times over, showing us Master Chief's final scenes from two different viewpoints and furiously underlining all the above in red felt-tip, in the manner of Black Ops.
I just think that if Halo's overall story was told outside of ponderous, lengthy cut-scenes... If it featured arch-enemies who gave off a real sense of threat and didn't look like pension-age ETs in hovering wheelchairs... And if the games explained the basics of the universe via the machinations of gameplay... Then people like me would pay more attention.
As it is, they seem to take an immersion in Halo lore and a perfect recall of former games as a given. What's more, everything is high concept - the story is one epic event after another. As a result, all the gigantic space explosions merge into one purple-tinged morass.
Try reading a plot synopsis of Halo 3. It sounds remarkable - an epic that could genuinely rival, or better, the classic sci-fi novels which inspired it.
However, the story I remember from actually playing the game went, 'Kill all the aliens! Kill all the aliens! Save Cortana, she's sexy and purple and transparent! Now: a bit with the Flood! Kill ALL the aliens! ALL THE ALIENS! Master Chief dies, or something like that! All the aliens are dead.'
ODST and Reach made some progress in this department but they wind me up too. As engaging as the characters of Master Chief and Cortana are, if Reach's Spartan squad can be considered interesting and sympathetic heroes the writers of In the Night Garden are up there with Shakespeare.
As for that Radio 4 Play for Today audio account of the attack on New Mombasa (or wherever), the one you could collate as you stalked the padded corridors which broke up the action in ODST - is there anything more perverse than starting a story you know only a fraction of players will hear the end of?
Do as BioShock does and give everyone the full story, but reward the keener types for digging deeper by giving them the bigger picture. Or don't do it at all.
My message to the developers picking up the Master Chief mantle is simple: I am your lowest common denominator. Spoon-feed me as you would a sickly child. In every new game tell me everything again, no matter how obvious or basic. Just find different, smarter ways to do it so the rest of class doesn't have to wait for me, the thick kid at the back, to get to the end of the chapter.
Also: when you bring back that Guilty Spark hover-droid thing, be aware I won't know who the hell he is - only that halfway through the level he's likely to turn his laser-bots on me.
Never, ever bring that giant venus fly trap from Halo 2 back. What the hell was all that about? As for Nathan Fillion, he was awesome in ODST. I can't remember if he died or not so I clearly didn't care too much, but feel free to let him make a comeback. And make Cortana even sexier, purpler and more see-through.
I will buy each and every future instalment in your brilliant Halo game series, Microsoft and/or 343 Industries. I will enjoy them and occasionally make hilarious 8/10 gags about them.
Until you acquiesce to my demands, however, I will bitch and whine. I will annoy patrons of both Wetherspoons and the internet with my blinding ignorance and disregard for your precious 'lore' and 'extended universe'.
You'll get my money, oh yes, but also the full force of my impotent rage. Treat Halo 4 as a reboot, whisper, "Are you sitting comfortably?" and tell a proper story, if you want to build bridges. Otherwise, consider yourself warned.