Is Halo 4 the Best of Both Worlds?

Since I purchased an Xbox 360 in 2005 and started playing Halo 2 I have been a very devoted fan of the Bungie's Halo trilogy.  In fact, that game is the major reason I bought an Xbox 360 and stayed with it, as PS3 was soon asserting that they had the better system. For years Call of Duty (COD) was in the background, a game beloved by many, but almost always ignored by devout Halo players.  

In 2007, Halo 3 reaffirmed the magical online play and enjoyable story mode that had so popularized Halo 2.  However, in 2010, after claiming the game was only a trilogy, Bungie developed Halo: Reach.  The game didn't come anywhere close to Halo 3 in the opinions of most players I have talked to, in fact, many gamers switched to COD between 2007 and the present.  

Fast forward to late 2012, and Halo 4 was storming onto the videogame scene, except this time Bungie wasn't in charge.  They had handed the reins back to Microsoft in March 2012, after Microsoft had filed for the name 343 Industries back in 2007.  Bungie had separated from Microsoft and now Halo was going back to where it started, sort of. Let's not forget that Halo had become somewhat of a cultural icon, for gamers like me that mostly meant that I wanted them to hurry up and make a new game, but it also meant books, movies, and Halo content in other mediums. 

Having played Halo 4 for a couple of months now I can attest that it is a VERY different style game than the Halo games of Bungie.  Admittedly I was at first skeptical of the faster pace, diverse power-ups, and different style maps, but it very quickly won me over.  343 Industries succeeded where Bungie and Activision (Call of Duty) had not, they had brought the best of the realistic and militaristic Call of Duty and the out-of-this-world ideas of Halo together into an impressive game.  With more varied weapons, cut scenes, and power-ups, it is safe to say it isn't Bungie's pure Halo anymore.

But, I am a fan. My major complaint is the lack of ability to substantially progress in the game, it is more similar to COD's model of experience gaining than the leveling up of the previous Halo's.  In the past your level was a badge of your skill, hard earned with wins to level up and losses that leveled you down.  Now, with Halo 4, it only shows who has played the most, with little regard for how they really played. Quantity, not quality, rules the progression through online Halo 4, something many I have spoken to and played with disagree with.  

What do you think? Please respond in the comments, whether you prefer the Halo franchise to the COD franchise and any specific opinions on Halo 4, will be interested to read others' experiences with these two major game franchises that are now cultural icons.