I don't understand how you can say 2 is equal to 3. I my opinion, 2 was the pinnacle of competitve gaming and what it meant to have skill in a video game. --- HC HQ all day! Forget the explosives, use a real gun.
Don't get me wrong, CE is classic and I love it, but since there was never any big online multiplayer (except for on the PC), I gotta give it to 2,3, and 4 first. I didn't get to play a ton of Halo 2 multiplayer, but it's my favorite campaign. Halo 3 is my favorite multiplayer just because I played it so much and it's really the last Halo game to keep it classic.
Not saying that innovation and new steps are bad or anything, but yeah.