I am looking forward to Final Fantasy XIII-2, and a solid predecessor is a large reason why...

Final Fantasy XIII, much like, at least IMHO, Final Fantasy X-2, is not a Final Fantasy for everyone.

In fact, it's probably an attempt to introduce the Final Fantasy paradigm to a whole new legion of fans.

Unlike X-2, where you could see they were trying to introduce the game to not only females but fan-service fanatics, XIII appears to try to introduce the franchise to a mainstream entertainment audience.

The thing is, the learning curve is a bit steep, especially once the Crystarium comes into play (and for those who don't like the Crystarium, you probably didn't like the License Board in XII or the Sphere Grid in X).

I can definitely see the problems people have with the game:

1) The fights can be balls-hard.  Yes, they can be.  Most meaningful monsters (and all bosses) MUST be Staggered to defeat them.  That's frustrating for a player who is having a lot of trouble.  (Hell, I had so much trouble keeping the Oerba Barthandelus fight in check that they actually hit the hard time limit on the fight and I was Doomed, being given only three more minutes to win -- and I did, JUST....  BARELY.

2) The linear nature of the game.  The entire first 15 hours, before you hit the only real open area of the game, are essentially a tunnel (and a tutorial!) you walk the various parties through.  I am a grinder, and I love to grind and over-level my characters to make boss fights easier.

That said, you pick your spots here.  Most of the time, you're actually grinding your WEAPONS more than your characters, and that usually takes gil -- and THAT usually takes a certain type of mob.

The thing is that the linear nature of the game until near the end of the main gameplay is one manifestation of the belief I have that they try to take Final Fantasy and bring it to yet another new generation of players.  Whether it works or not, Your Mileage May Vary...

3) Vanille.  Basically everything about her.

Look, I like a leggy babe -- even a character -- quite a bit.

Hence, I took after her and basically crowned myself the President and Charter Member of the Leggy Vanille Fan Club.

I liked Vanille.  I felt the orgasm while she was activating the Final Gestalt move on her Eidolon was more than a little cheesy, but she was Little Miss Fan Service.  No more or less.

It was _Sazh_ I couldn't stand.  Never got his vibe, and then there's one point in the story which makes zero sense at all (hint:  it's right about at the time he truly realizes Vanille's role in all this...).

4) Hope.  Hope was a great storyline advancement -- he is a large degree of what ties the story together, at least early on.  First loss, then pain, then revenge, then dedication.  It makes sense, even if a lot of flamers get a bit of Shinji Ikari about it all.

5) The battle system itself.  Basically stack commands, and the AI effectively "learns" weaknesses for you if you don't Libra the monster.  The thing is, you're almost trying to keep up, in most cases, with the Paradigms you need, especially on harder monsters and on bosses. 

He hits a big move to down most everybody?  Switch to your healing paradigm.

Just Staggered?  Go all out with offense...

So why doesn't this get a 10?

1) Sazh is annoying.

2) Maxing everything out post-game gets even more of a grind than usual, with fewer and fewer options as you go.

3) Gil is very hard to come by, making weapon advancement terribly difficult.  (Though largely unnecessary, minus completionists.)

4) The learning curve can be a bit steep.  Trying to win this game without a Retry or a Game Over is almost impossible.

Why does it get a 9??

1) Very aesthetically beautiful.

2) A decent take on the FFXI idea of choosing when and under what conditions you would do battle in.  It's even more important, when you finally get in the open, to pick and choose your battles.  Some will help you advance, and some will stomp you into the ground.

3) Storyline is strong here.

4) Don't like how a battle is going?  Retry it!

PS:  My favorite team?  Three leggy babes.  Vanille (Fan Service Leggy), Lightning (Tough Leggy), and Fang ("Hard" Leggy).  The Rockette Offense.