Final Fantasy 10 isn't horrible, but it is where the series started to get a lot worse(technically FF8 is where the series got worse, but FF9 was such a great game the series was good again, and FF10 is worse as a game than FF8 to me.) The storyline was pretty much collect the summon spells and kill Sin. There are a few underlying issues within that, but the story is basically given to you right at the beginning.
Gameplay, which you see a lot of praise is nothing but change characters and attack. You'll usually come across a variation of two or three types of enemies per battle Fast enemy? Switch to Wakka, one hit kill. Medium speed enemy? Tidus or Wakka for one hit kill. Elemental? Lulu for one hit kill. Robot? Rikku for one hit kill. Shelled enemy? Anyone who has a shell breaker weapon for a one hit kill. There's more depth this way than in previous games, yes, but it just feels so much worse.
With the storyline being the whole, destroy Sin, the world map is built to match. It's pretty much a straight line from point A to B with a small branching off road here and there that has an item at the end. It's not as bad as it is in Final Fantasy 13, but it's the first RPG I remember where it really cut down on exploration.
The music and graphics are good. The best thing about Final Fantasy 10, what I put most of my time into. Blitzball. The best single player only mini game I've ever played in a video game and one of the best mini games ever. XenoCard is the best in my opinion, but it's just a lot more fun against an actual person rather than the AI.
Final Fantasy 10-2 has a poor storyline. Just embarassing. While it uses the world map, it works out a bit better in Final Fantasy 10-2 because you're not plopped down on point A and then required to get to point B all the way at the end of the game. Final Fantasy 10-2 has a main focus on quests, so you can go to multiple areas and accept quests that will have you jumping between different parts of the world, and it actually works well.
Combat in Final Fantasy 10-2 is the best in the series. First off it borrows the class system from Final Fantasy 5, but takes the Final Fantasy Tactics approach in a way and allows you to choose what skills you're going to learn first out of a long list per class. There's also a large class variety and each character can be customized what classes they can change to if needed in battle, similar to switching to the appropriate character in Final Fantasy 10, but with more limitation as well as a higher difficulty, with enemies that don't just evaporate when you look at them wrong.
The storyline might be terrible, but the combat and quest system make Final Fantasy 10-2 a good game. If you can bear through the story, then you should be able to enjoy the game. Anyone who was able to suffer through Final Fantasy 13 should have no problem. If you've finished Final Fantasy 13 and are one of the people who didn't like Final Fantasy 10-2, you should really go back and give it a chance.
I really wonder how many of those people who "universally hated" XIII-2 actually played it. I really disliked XIII but I absolutely adored XIII-2. Fixed pretty much all the problems I had with XIII.
I didn't. It's got the same gameplay though, one of the reasons I didn't like Final Fantatsy 13 because you had no control, among everything else that was wrong with the game. I'm going to play it and finish it because of Lightning Returns though. Lightning Returns looks amazing.