I heard lots of bad things about this game. It's incredibly linear. The start of the game is a 20 hour tutorial. The story is rubbish. I also think Square Enix are incapable of making a great RPG anymore.
Well I decided to play it out of morbid curiosity and I've gotten close to the end of chapter 4 (a little bit after getting Odin). I have to say I'm really enjoying it. The battle system is superb, like really good. I usually hate the ATB system and felt it's never worked properly with turn based systems being so much better but I think they nailed it this time and the complete overhaul makes a frantic and yet tactical battle system. The harder fights feel like the boss fights of FF12 which in my opinion was the only time the battle system actually worked in that game. It seems to work for every battle in this game.
The 20 hour tutorial is kind of hyperbole but I admit it did take a while before pressing just X got you through every battle. At the point I'm at the battle system has been excellent since I gained access to the paradigm shifts.
The linearity thing is not a problem for me. People foget that FFX, one of the best FF games was just as linear. Also people don't realise that previous FF games from FF4 onwards, with the exception of FF6 and FF12 were totally linear affairs. They only gave the illusion of freedom but you were always being ferried from point A to B to C. The omission of towns is a little more jarring. Although in FF games they were rarely functional gameplay-wise but they did add a lot to the world and by giving you an insight into how normal people of the world felt.
I'm finding the story interesting enough. The world of Cocoon and Pulse is fascinating, I'm reallty enjoying the setting and the amount of work put into the mythos of this universe. The quite frankly stunning graphics and art really help as well. Characters aren't too bad, Sazh is a real stand out while Vanille at the moment is hateful but she's the only weak one so far in a good cast.
I might change my mind but this is definitely not the disaster it's been made out to be. In fact it'sone of the most enjoyable games of the year for me.