Having now finished the game, I can say an extra plus for it is that I still actually WANT to play after the main story. I have beaten FF13 from start to finish twice, and neither time did I continue playing after. There was no incentive for me to do it.
This game actually makes me want to keep playing after I have beat the main story. I WANT to go back and collect missed fragments and open missed gates.. I WANT to solve those pesky paradoxes and get the other endings. That is a huge plus for this game, because the story was not near as long as 13. This was $150 well spent.
Now that I have finished the main story, I can look back and put in some criticism.
I played on normal mode, but for most of the game it felt like I was on easy. The Relentless Assault Paradigm was in use 95%.
I didn't need to use a Sentinel for anymore than a few seconds to heal.
I NEVER used either SAB or SYN roles. Not once. They would have drawn out most battles longer had I used them. Only the last boss had enough HP to make using them worth it, but my deck used the space better and I didn't think to change it before fighting the last battle.
I am hoping that some of the side quest content will encourage me to use this roles now that I am done with the story, but I loved using paradigms like Tide Turner in 13. It made buffing important and useful. I have never really thought buffing in previous Final Fantasy games was worth the tick of the ATB to get them, so I was pleased to be able to use that mechanic in 13 to great result. Now it just feels unnecessary again.
I liked having a monster in my party, and the Feral attacks are a nice sort of call back to limit breaks of old.
That said, once I had my Cryosaur (I think thats what its called; little reptile thing with 4 legs and a tail) as a Ravager, I didn't even bother leveling any other monsters up. I have not yet used the merging of 2 monster function, but I will look at that tomorrow when I jump back in for some side quests.
I have to come back again to difficulty.. this is really the only thing I was DISSAPOINTED in about this game. I am not some uber gamer eiher. I am average at best and this was just TOO easy. The game even rewards you with trophies for ploughing through certain fights, if you get a 5 star rating you get GS points or a trophy. I figured that with the ability to "reset" timelines, you could go back and refight certain bosses when you are more powerful to unlock those, but I got them first round.
I remember the Proudclad from 13. That boss game me HELL. I just could not keep lightning up if she got that barrage of missles focused on her. I only passed it through sheer luck of retrying over and over till I got lucky and the boss didnt fire it at her. Now I know that there is an easy way of killing that boss, or I could have back tracked and developed a bit more, but that is not really my play style and I plowed on through till I won. I like that sort of challenge, and while I also got a fair share of nerd rage and some cheap shot deaths by random mobs in the game, there is really no punishment for death so it encourages you to play on.
This game, I saw the game over screen twice, both times I was fighting Omega early in the game while way too weak to have a chance.
I have had my rant now. This is a GREAT game, its emersive, the story is much easier to follow than the previous one, and most important of all, its FUN.