I can really see both sides of the coin with XIII-2. I see why people hate it. I see why people love it. You can provide a justifiable (albeit subjective) argument in either position.
For me personally, on the topic of gameplay, I am torn. Once I got the hang of it, it proved really addicting. I will however say the camera left me not likiing it nearly as much as I could have. I identified the constant roaming motion of the camera during battle was the root cause of the terrible motion sickness I was experiencing. In application, it made it difficult for me to "see" what was actually happening and forced me more to watch and study what was happening with the stats on the bottom of the screen. In other words, too much happening on screen (visual freakin' chaos at points) to focus on. I did not have this problem with XIII.
Leveling while not confusing at all, is poorly explained. So poorly, until I came here and asked I had no grasp as to what I was really aiming to do.
The story I loved. I don't however feel it jived with the games method of progression. The writing and way things are expressed make it difficult enough to comprehend... couple that with the fact that you can see story bits out of order depending on what gates you open and go to first and you have a real tricky scenario of "connecting the dots" on your hands.
Last, and I believe this was mentioned by someone earlier in the thread or in another, it just simply doesn't feel like a JRPG to me. JRPGs scratch an itch for me XIII-2 did not. And this by NO MEANS qualifies it as BAD in my book. There are plenty of games that are great that are not JRPG's (they just are not for me) and ultimately this feels like something else to me. I actually give them lots of credit for creating something rather unconventional here, even if it doesn't quite "work" all the way around.
It is weird for me to say it, but between the nausea I get from battles and the fact that I am really concerned with seeing the narrative progression in a proper linear order, this may be the one game I truly enjoy watching instead of playing.
I did not finish it, and doubt I will. I feel like the 7 hour youtube movie would be a better prep for LR should I choose in a month to try that out.... unless I can't curb my OCD and vomit my way to the finish-LoL
And on the XIII-3/LR note... I sort of wish they made LR more of Zelda clone to be honest. I love the costumes idea, but am really wondering if I am going to enjoy the constant need to shuffle between them. Likewise, the idea of leveling via sidequests vs. battles is a major turn off for me. Without playing it is (obviously) too early to make assumptions as to what things will be like, but based on what I've seen thus far I'm feeling like it could be a real bitter sweet experience.