Jaw dropping graphics, great voice acting and a fantastic memorable story. How can you go wrong with this latest FF?
I think Sqaure Enix did right by going into their roots from FF 10, it makes the game more accessible and immensely more fun, the thing with players today is that there are less and less people who appreciate long winded JRPG's anymore and I'm sure those who gripe about linearity are just the few "hardcore" JRPG gamers. Most people hate to spend long hours exploring all the nick and cranny in a game, finishing all nonsense side-quests and spend hours upon hours just to get one special item for one out of six characters.
Personally, I think linearity in this genre is godsend. I love the flow of the story, I've played it for about 3 hours already I think and judging from the quality of the presentation, the great voice acting, the well thought of menus and tutorials and the seamless transition from cut scene to actual gameplay makes this game a winner.
Seriously folks, don't let any naysayers dissuade you from getting this gem of a game. It is very accessible, and if you have only so little time to spend on playing a game the save points are spread about sporadically for you to just invest about 30 mintues to 1 hour and continue at a later point.
The cut scenes are also very long (I'm just about 3 hours into the game and the cut scenes composed of about half of that I think), making it feel like I'm in an anime movie, they should have put Advent Children into this time of game instead of making it into a full length movie.
Aside from cut scenes the character advancement menu is simple enough so you don't get convoluted unlike FF12 with so many options but all characters can get the same powers, here its quite different and since you only have 7 characters to go around with you need to diversify them so that you'll get a well rounded team.
In conclusion, this game is one of the greatest releases I've ever seen in a game and believe me I've seen plenty. Its up there with Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age Origins and Metal Gear Solid 4. 8.5 is too low a score for this game.