This is what I think about it.
I really like the Halo story and, as I've recently realized, I've been playing the Halo series since 2002. I've picked up each new game as soon as humanly possible (except for Halo Wars which is what Halo was originally supposed to be in early development). I remember in high school being mesmerized for hours after class sniping Elites and figure-eighting Hunters in Halo: Combat Evolved. (Figure-eighting is when you strafe between a Hunter pair, putting a single pistol shot in the back of one Hunter then chaining the same motion killing the second Hunter with a second pistol shot). I spent many weekends having LAN parties (every Friday night in the 11th grade) making new friends and putting any new-comer in their place as I was usually the best player out of the 20 or so people that came out toward the end.
Halo: CE was more than just a good story it was basically the basis for my high school career. As much time as I put into just playing Halo: CE's multiplayer I put into playing Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST altogether; and I played Halo 2 A LOT.
So, was I excited about Halo: Reach? Yes I was.
Playing through the game was great. There is a multitude of weapons, new and old. Each one feeling very refined and well balanced. The same thing goes for the vehicles. The same old vehicles are still there with some new rides to play with. Even a new enemy shows up. This game has lots of new features and scenes but any Halo vet playing the game will pick up on the subtle and not so subtle similarities to the previous games.
Everything from weapons (the M6G obviously is similar to the M6D), locations (one campaign level actually has a section that is the exact layout of one of the Halo 2 multiplayer levels with a certain terrified character from Halo: CE making an appearance ;) ) and even characters (voices from the first game - which should have been expected due to the story time line).
The controls feel different and that's not to say that I ever really liked the new layouts. Personally I prefer the Halo: CE and Halo 2 layout MUCH more than the 360 layouts, but what I do like is that the new "equipment." I didn't like the Halo 3 equipment like the flare but the new stuff like Sprint and Jetpack work for me. I don't get the buttons as confused now.