@thatpinguino: I always thought FFVIII was the most overated in the series. None of the characters are appealing(and they're pretty shallow, or nonsensical), the story doesn't make any sense and it really tries too hard reusing elements from FFVII. Also, I think it's a strech to say FFVIII is a high watermark in rpg combat. The draw system emphazises using regular attacks as opposed to magic, skills or items. Also, a lot of your time will be spent on drawing, which isn't very much fun. Of the Final Fantasy games, I think FFX did combat the best.
Most jrpgs don't account for character positioning, they just stand facing each other and trade blows until one keels over. Sometimes there are ambush situations and enemies on both sides of you, but you can't really set up your characters for flanking, bottlenecks etc. I guess positioning has become a bigger factor in FFXII and FFXIII, but I don't feel like I can control it and I don't think it has much tactical advantage beyond evading some area attacks.