I quite enjoyed it. The battle system presented a far more different approach and it was exciting and in my eyes, better than the old fashioned system. The story wasn't great, but it wasn't the worst story either. I don't have a problem with the characters either, I'm just not the type of person who hates characters simply because of their background or emotional states. I know, I know. "Omg, emo kids, rage!" but that's not me. I'm just indifferent.
The linearity has always been around in Final Fantasy. I could never actually go wherever I wanted until I progressed the story in the past FF titles.
I'm an oddity among FF fans though. I actually find FFVII boring, and I have never beaten Disc 1 because it's just so painfully slow and boring to me. I think the furthest I got to was Junon.
FFIX, X, XII and XIII are my favorite FF's so far. I liked FFVI too, but I didn't care for the story or the battle system. When you can hold down X and close your eyes and still win battles, then the game is too easy. Which is why I laughed whenever people said all you do in FFXIII is hold X for auto battle. That's pretty much all you did in the previous FF's except when you met an enemy resistant to something. Spam Knights of the Round, get a turbo controller and tape down X and the analog stick so you can grind on the world map while you sleep, etc.
Now, I bought FFXIII-2 and I've tried to play it wholeheartedly, but I've yet to beat it as well. It's just too... stupid.