I originally said that I wouldn't complete this game based on the agonizing grind and slow pace of the first three chapters. Nothing happens, people have scenes but they don't talk to each other, and it seems like 10-12 hours real time invested in what amounts to countless battle after battle. The graphics are very good but that alone can't carry a game.
But then it starts to get interesting in chapter 4, and although it is still linear gameplay there is at least some gratification and reward for your efforts thus far. By this time you should have started upgrading your own abilities and your weapons because it will definitely be required from this point on. The characters start rooting out their problems and growing up. The story is starting to mean something.
However, one glaring problem is that this battle system is not really turn-based, but rather it keeps the clock running, so it depends on your ability to use menus very quickly... While you're fumbling for a potion you will still be taking hits from the enemies and then it would be too late. You do not even have any defence or evasion. You just stand there and take it. This system reeks of old-school game design where controllers only had a d-pad and two buttons. It's a disservice to modern players to not use gaming hardware the way it was meant to be used. That is, these battles should be more direct action like those in Tales Of Vesperia or Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Even Ni No Kuni has time-dependent menu-naviigation but at least your player can move out of the line of fire. No, Final Fantasy XIII's battle system is encumbering to the player and the developers really need to take this into account. Because it makes for an unfair game and who wants to play an unfair game?