I'm nearing the end of the game now and my thoughts are:
1. Main story - quite enjoying it tbh. It hits enough of the old nostalgia notes and adds some new content and depth to some of the characters (like Biggs, Wedge, Jessie, etc) that the original game didn't/couldn't go into. A bit cheesy but can't say I've not enjoyed it - it's also a bit weird playing it knowing how things will pan out (and still having hope that SOMEHOW it will be different and bad things won't happen).
2. Side quests - these are a bit shit - it could literally be almost any other game that they've been pulled from. Games like the Witcher nailed the side quests imo, but these just feel very... bland. Nothing from any of the side quests is particularly memorable.
3. Battle system - VERY mixed feelings. Playing it on Normal mode, there have been some battles I get my ass handed to me, and you sometimes need to do a battle, use the Scan materia, work out the weaknesses of the enemy, get killed, go again with revisions to materia/kit. That's been quite fun. The SHIT bit has been the party members. Whichever character I am controlling I obviously do a lot of damage/use magic/etc, but the other characters are literally fucking lemons. Don't use abilities, don't use magic, just sit there bashing attack after attack. Unless I've missed something, it feels like they should have built a way to put some more intelligence into their actions and behaviour. Has anyone found them to be useful without you having to keep cycling through each character and doing a lot of management?
4. Main characters - I have to say I like all of the main characters and they all come across kinda like I remember in the first game. I found Barret ridiculously annoying to begin with but now I'm used to him I find he's really grown on me as the game goes on. I like the little bits of banter between fights too that all the characters have.
5. Tieing it into other FF7 Lore - You can see things being referenced from the other games (Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus, etc) so they're making an effort to tie up some loose ends in that regard. I think I want to see what happens further down the line (not in this game, but later) before I make a judgement though.
In conclusion... I'm not sure I'd be loving it so much if I hadn't played the original. The game actually isn't that big location wise, side quests are a bit shit. I worry they're going to drag this out into too many episodes which will kill it. Would much rather they spend more time to not make this a weird elongated Hobbit-style franchise (film versions obviously. Book was great ). But that also said, it's visually stunning and I got some goosebumps revisiting locations from the originals and also hearing some of the musical scores redone .
I'll come back after I've finished the game (or if there's another thread for ending/etc) - hopefully won't be disappointed.
ALSO - Incidentally - did anyone get their preorder bonus (Chocobo Chick summon DLC)? - I redeemed the code but I can't seem to find the damn thing. Not expecting it to be amazing, but more curious to see what it's like. How do I find it?