I would also like to say though, and I feel I've experienced enough of the franchise to say it, I REALLY don't get the extraordinary amount of hate this series has generated.
That's kind of a long story that is not worth telling at this point to be honest. The short version however if you must know would be that between expectations, some misunderstanding and what SQEX as a company feels should do to stay alive has generated a lot of conflict with chunk of their audience that has lasted for years.
There was also this thing going on with JRPGs in the late 2000s of being no longer relevant anymore and WRPGs were taking their place. I remember that being a thing.
Oh and also I almost forgot, a few years ago a dude from BioWare said this... *shrug*
I suppose I should be more accurate.I know how the hate evolved, I just strongly disagree with it.
FF6 was my first RPG ever. It is my favorite, and I have played most of the franchise. It is just as uncomfortable for me as anyone else to see what FF has become. It certainly IS NOT what it was, but it doesn't pretend to be... the part I don't get is how people can deny the quality or integrity of XIII as a whole based on the fact that it isn't what they like or are comfortable with.
XIII in my mind is no different then a slew of stellar triple AAA shooters, fighting and sports titles for me. I recognize that some of these games may be amongst the best of the generation, or ever made (some may argue). I won't dispute that fact. But I have specific tastes and those games don't suit me. The difference with XIII for me personally is as you pointed out, is expectations. I don't expect to like any of those shooters or sports titles while I fully expected to, and wanted to, love the hell out of XIII. Still doesn't change the fact that by most objective gaming measures I can see that XIII is great title even if not anywhere in the realm of my subjective and idealistic hopes.
It is sort of like star trek to me. I know its good. I know people love it. I recognize its greatness but don't want to go near it myself.... Although in Final Fantasy's case it seems more like The Wizard of Oz going on to become Star Trek or something like that-LoL
On a final note.... To be honest, the evolution of Final Fantasy to this point has been gradual and natural. They didn't suddenly jump into what is XIII. It has been evolving into XIII since VII. In all honesty I feel foolish for my expectations as I really shouldn't have expected anything different.
Now getting back on topic and more specific to XIII-3.... What I had hoped for, and what got me excited for XIII-3 in the first place back when it was announced, was the idea of a Zelda style FF featuring Lightning in which I could change her outfits (still quite the novelty in JRPG's for me). Once again, I had unreasonable expectations. What we ended up with is an appropriately evolved XIII-3 and NOT "The Legend of Lightning: Twilight Fantasy".
So I guess to summarize, I gotta agree with you entirely when you bring up expectations being the root cause of the turmoil.
And for the record, while clearly and strictly an opinion, I agree with Bioware dude... thanks for the link. :)