I finally beat the game at long last (got a little extra motivation to finish now, basically wanted to beat the game before The Last Story comes out in NA, so I'm not switching between two RPGs on the same system at the same time).
The final boss was pretty intense, don't think I've fought a final boss in an RPG that intense since Kefka and Sephiroth. I will say though, the hardest boss was actually the boss you fight within the Bionis (trying to stay at least somewhat spoiler-free). That boss was rather annoying, and sadly this was a fight where the AI partners decided to act stupid (they kept falling in the damn ether pools which hurts them, and they don't get the hell out unless I use the "retreat" command... thankfully spamming ether attacks seemed to really help finishing this one off).
Anyway, I loved this game. If I had to give it a score of some kind, I'll actually break things down a bit first:
-Graphics: The only area that really suffers is the character models, which look like they could have easily been in an early gen PS2 game like Final Fantasy X. The environments are fantastic though, some of the best I've seen on the Wii, and combined with the spectacular draw distance this is a Wii game I feel actually puts certain HD games to shame (seriously I don't think I even saw a draw distance this great in games like Skyrim or Fallout 3/New Vegas). The effects are great too, with some good lighting and particle effects. In all, aside from the character models, this game is a good example of showing that the Wii is 2 or 3 times as powerful as the Gamecube.
-Sound: First I'll start by saying that the British VA is pretty well cast, everyone's voices fit them pretty well, and the use of British voice actors for all the characters do give this JRPG something usually only unique to Western RPGs (usually I'd expect voice actors like Quinton Flynn or Christopher Sabot in there somewhere, but for this game you instead have people who did voices for games like Dragon Age and Fable). Now the soundtrack is fantastic. Yoko Shimomura (composer of other well known RPGs like Kingdom Hearts, Super Mario RPG, and the Mario and Luigi series) has just about outdone herself here, and the contributions from the other people like ACE+ are also superb. I wish the soundtrack could have been a pre-order bonus, because I would have loved to listen to this in my car.
-Controls: I played the game with the Classic Control Pro, and the controls work pretty well. Nothing too complicated, it's hard to forget what each button does.
-Combat system: From what I have heard, the combat system is apparently similar to MMORPG games like World of Warcraft, but since I've never played an MMORPG I can't really compare for myself. To me, though, I'd say the combat system is like a better version of the one in Final Fantasy XII. Normal attacks are done automatically and you select special moves via an easy to use menu, and battles take place on the field instead of in battle screens (essentially it's more of an action-RPG and not really a turn based one). Battles can be pretty heated, and usually require a good bit of strategy in order to finish them without getting incapacitated. One great this to mention is that incapacitation does NOT lead to a game over, instead you are returned to the last major landmark you discovered and keep all EXP and whatnot that you have found, and the game allows you to save just about anywhere. This is a great thing for those of you who don't like RPGs where you can lose too much progress if you forget to save or are stuck somewhere where saving is not possible for a while.
If I had to give it a score, I'd say 9.5 out of 10.