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.