Here's a thing: I spent a chunk of the evening earlier writing out an entry on Final Fantasy XIII, which I recently completed. As it went on, the points about it I wanted to make just got mired deeper and deeper into defending it against it's many vociferous detractors, and I couldn't be bothered any more. My intention to write positively about the game had been poisoned by the need to win hearts and minds.
So, here's my potted version:
Final Fantasy XIII is one of the best JRPGs I've ever played. At this moment I'm quite happy to say it's my favourite in the series after XII. It was a streamlined, action-packed, eye-popping experience that was more purely fun to play than almost any RPG I've tried. I loved the world, liked the characters, found the pacing to be perfect (I literally never tired of it or felt it dragged), and revelled in the gloriously entertaining combat system. It was a bold experiment that - for me - completely paid off.
Check it out. You might like it, you might hate it. I only ask that you go in without preconceptions or expectations of what you think a Final Fantasy should be.