Well, I got Final Fantasy XIII obviously and am several hours into the game. So here are my current impressions about the game, and I will try to limit spoilers so as not to ruin it for anyone.
I'm going to get the story out of the way, as this will have most of the spoilers, so if you don't want to have the little I will explain spoiled, skip to the next part. Basically your characters are marked for a great destiny, and due to that, the rest of the world hates you for it. So yes, you fight to defend a world that hates and fears you....you are the X-Men. The game also drops you into the action with little context to what's happening, and that's more explained in flash backs to give you the information you need, and it's done very well. I hope the story carries my interest all the way through.
I actually like this bunch of characters. They don't strike me as annoying as some characters in the past (Yuffie, Cait Sith, Selphie, Rinoa, Squall, Eiko, Tidus to name a few). Though the characters follow the standard types used in previous games, they're still done well. Lightning is basically a female Cloud. Vanille is the happy peppy type like Aerith, and so on. The most annoying character to me is Hope, and he's gotten a little better than when he first appeared, so there's that. Honestly, for now, the characters are good, but the game is far from over.
The gameplay is actually very surprising to me, and I mean that in a good way. You have roles called 'Paradigms' that you can switch between in battle to allow your characters to have access to different abilities. This is actually a snazzed up version of the Job Class system, which surprised me when I saw that, and I like it. While they have done away with MP (the story explains that the characters gained their magic from the fal'Cie as the source of magic) it doesn't take away from the gameplay. The battles are still pretty tough, and I am at a boss right now that's wiping the floor with me.
You also have a 'role development' system that lets you expand a character's paradigm and learn new abilities. This is sort of a 3D version of the sphere grid from Final Fantasy X. It works well here too. The main draw back to the game is, you'll still get tutorials later in the game on the combat system to explain the things. While these tutorials are not as bad as VIII's, they work here because they allow you to learn and get used to the combat system, which can be very fast and hectic if they threw it all at you at once.
While I dunno how they look on the 360, the PS3's version is a very beautiful game. While they have the futuristic setting in this game again, in some areas it's hard to notice, as you wander through a glowing forest, or through a lake that's been turned to crystal. The setting and visuals are just a sight to behold, and I am impressed thus far.
Well, basically I like XIII so far. I don't know how it'll rank overall in my FF games, but it's an above average game so far. It manages to once again be similar, yet different, to provide a new experience for me, like XII did. So those are my initial impressions of the game, thanks for reading!