I am a 4th generation Final Fantasy fan if I'm correct, meaning I started playing on the PS2. So I know for the first part that any order is fine, but I know they can be very different. Such as X & XIII are very linear and I wanted to to see all the fuss about VII and became completely lost and disgusted by either the end of the first disc or beginning of second - I forget.
Knowing this what is the best way to coax me into the more open end part enough where free roam doesn't bother me enough and I could give VII another crack. Graphics aren't a problem more of a story which FF usually deliver, so not a problem if somebody suggest an early game.
Keep in mind I only have access to the psn titles avaible for console use.
Given your reaction to Final Fantasy VII, it's hard to tell whether you'd appreciate other Final Fantasy games in the series or not, as the game is often referred to as one of the highest points Squaresoft has ever reached with the brand.
Comparatively, are you a fan of the more linear styles of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII? If you haven't tried Final Fantasy XII then like Final Fantasy XIII after it the game is more of an action-RPG hybrid mixed with an expansive world to explore.
The way that a broader map system operates though is that there is your objective and then there is everything else. With sidequests you'll have the choice to head directly to the next district on the map or hang around Balamb Garden and challenge everyone possible to a card duel. Sometimes you'll be able to walk in a Final Fantasy game while other times you'll have the airship to transport you to different destinations.
Though you may not come to like the entire Final Fantasy history of games, there are more than fourteen of them now in the "main" lineup, including direct sequels. As long as you're not beginning on Final Fantasy X-2 or Final Fantasy XIII-2 before the ones that precede them you should be fine. Where to start you off though would really depend on what you're feeling up to. If you're not up to the task of completing Final Fantasy VII for the moment, then maybe going for an older-schooled entry like Final Fantasy IV would put the brain back to work?
I would definately say I am a fan of the linear persuasion, though still will play the free roam. I have played both XII & most of VIII until I lost a save file. But with VII I got lost early and found out later about characters I missed. They say either you love VII or hate it, maybe I am just a member of the hate group?
Well all of the PlayStation classic Final Fantasies other than Tactics all have a point in the story where you basically can free-roam and do sidequests - there's really no way around it. But I know what you mean by the openness being somewhat bothersome if you have a little OCD like me and like things done in a certain order, and you don't like missing anything.
For those situations I always use a strategy guide. Not to cheat or try to make it easier on myself, simply so that I have a reference point for what options are available to me and so that I can ensure that I don't miss anything in the game. This helps really cut up the "openness" into more manageable bite size pieces so you can focus on a task rather than being overwhelmed with choices. But that's just me.
I personally love VIII the most and VII and IX basically tie for different reasons as second place. VIII is not for everyone though. It has it's own unique gameplay style and a more "love" story that some people just dread - to each their own.
I've been playing FF games since 1990. Unless you've been there since the beginning, I just don't think you can truly appreciate what these games offered for rpg gamers at the original times of release. In those days, if you didn't get lost or stuck for a little bit, then you probably weren't playing an rpg. lol My 1st impression of FF1 back then was, "Wow! This game is huge!". It was the 1st rpg I'd played.
Personally, the only real improvement I've seen in rpgs over the last 10 or 12 years or so is the graphics. There has been a decline in the amount of content offered throughout the rpg genre. But anyway, I recommend playing the FF games in order starting from FF1 of course. At the least you should get a better understanding of why the older games are talked about so much.
I recommend IX. It's got all of the elements of the older school games but there are clear objectives at all times. It's one of the best. Final Fantasy games have always been quite linear when you look at them. With the world map you are given the illusion of immense freedom but there is really only one way to progress the story. You are generally funnelled from one location to another until a point comes where you can travel the map at your leisure but there is still only one thing that will progress the game. I have loved every FF game since 1987 and played through them all except X-2. I did not enjoy that one. Perhaps because I did not like playing as all females. It felt too girly.
I love the FF series I have played them all, My Favs are in order FF VIII, FF III ( thats the really 3 not 6) and FF XII.
I can some up most of the FF series form FF VII to FF XII.
7- Guilt trip meets vengances
8- Emo boy falls in Love
9- Did it all for the nookie
10- Acid Trip on ecstasy and horny
10-2- Pretty Pretty prince Dress me up
12- Who's the main character?
Hard to say if you truly didn't enjoy VII.
While not everyone enjoyed VII and X, I believe most FF fans will say that they were definitely the cornerstones of the entire series as they both had gripping stories and characters, and had relatively fun gameplay, while selling multiple millions of units.
You may want to try XII or IX. I know most people would recommend those as well.