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Like the above said, online is scarce but it can be arranged via boards and forums. Gameplay is fun but I don't play a lot of FPS so I can't compare it to anything else. Story is near brilliant following the first and the second is easily my favorite story wise. Concerning 3, it had a lot of potential but fails in a few essential areas. I honestly can't speak for it's online play but the gameplay is incredibly easy compared to the others. It doesn't help that the bow is broken. 3's story is the perfect closure to the series IMO but suffers greatly from a gap of 4 years that should've been fleshed out. There was a lot of story details touched upon in narrative, very lightly, and only really explored in collectible content and even that doesn't do it justice. The length of the game is about 3 or 4 times shorter than the first two and therefore had plenty of room to add that missing gap that wouldn't fixed the games campaign. I recommend the game for plot regardless, as it is a good ending to the series. Just make sure you find all the data so you aren't as lost as to what happened in between 2 and 3.
Just noticed your emphasis on TIME. 2 has decent length but I don't think you'll feel like it's wasted. 3 only took me 5 hours so even if you found it meh, it was only 5 hours. Obtain 1 if you can. It's the best gameplay wise.
Also, since you're looking to beat it quickly I'm sure you'll miss some of the data. If you end up with any plot questions just ask them and I'll answer them for you. Some stuff about 1 gets brought back up so if you haven't played 1 that'll make those parts possibly fuzzy.