@PixelPrinny: I'd like to debate this more, but I've unfortunately aggravated a neck injury and can't stay at my computer for long. So I'll try to make this quick:
It didn't feel like Syrenne did a 180 on me. I also had no problems with what the Outsider is, as I felt that the game did a fair enough job of explaining what it is, where it came from, and how to get it to leave. It's not a Deus ex Machina; it doesn't come flying out of the sky to resolve everyone's problems at the last possible second.
Being a MacGuffin would imply that Calista ever loses story importance, which she doesn't. She's important to Zael right up through the end.
I never found the combat that difficult, either, but it also wasn't furstrating nor was it dull. I did use similar strategies for a lot of battles, but TLS isn't a tactical RPG; it's an RPG with tactical elements that sometimes come into play more than others. When I faced the final boss, I did have to fight him twice, but the time I died was my fault for doing something stupid. The second time, I defeated him without too much trouble (his final form presented the real challenge), but then, I don't know what my levels were compared to yours. I always made use of the summon circles and by the end, Zael was around level 68 while everyone else was in the low 60s.
So no, I can't really call it a bad game, and you can't really convince me that it is, either. I know you don't like it, but I do, and if I were to review it, I'd obviously just give it a better one that you would. Yeah, the game has its flaws around the sidequesting (though I never had trouble finding the red flags; they always seemed to be just about right where I was when an announcement is made) and never did much with the item trading, either. It could have had a larger world, more dungeons, and so on, but I'm happy with what's there. I'd also be happy if there was a sequel that expanded on everything, but as it stands, I enjoyed it, and not in any ironic "liking a bad game" sense.
Being a MacGuffin implies no such thing. Where would you get that idea? The whole plot of many stories relies on such things being important to the story all the way until the end. Her importance after you finally rescue her amounts to just being there to open doors. In other words, she's a key who just happens to be romantically interested in the hero.
As for the Outsider stuff, you and VGK have been debating that already so I won't beat a dead horse. Suffice to say, I'm on his side ;P
So I can't convince you otherwise, huh? Shucks. :P Not to worry though, I shant lose sleep over it and I doubt you shall either!