But the hour to hour gameplay was really all like: here's a location, there's a cutscene at the end, go for it.
Like I said, that was my biggest complaint as well and it definitely hurt the overall experience greatly (for most people it seems).
I honestly have no idea why Vanille and Sazh went to that Chocobo park for example.
Because they were already in Nautilus (where the Chocobo park is located) and Sazh was trying to cheer Vanille up, during which some important story elements are glimpsed at.
All those parts when the party got separated were like that. Each pair of characters landed in a different random location and went through a set of dungeons that didn't really do much for the plot, maybe aside from some very basic character development.
I don't know how they were random locations considering how they got to each were pretty well explained (both before they got there and after), but yeah I didn't like the splitting up much either. It tended to leave you with two or so characters which really waters down the battle system.
It felt pointless and I was bored almost all the time.
Even FFX, which is criticized for similar things as FFXIII, did it better for me.
Ironically, that is my least favorite FF game. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, just not as much as the others. Tidus makes me cringe. I did like FFX-2 a little better though (it is cheesy as hell but amusing).
I like Last story battle system only because...
Yes, Timmy! Let us build this wall of text together, for the future of RPGS!
Good to have you back, my friend!