It's incredible to me that you state the issues this game has with pacing as being a big impediment to your enjoyment of it, yet also imply that Lost Odyssey is one of your favorite JRPGs of all time. I found that game to have disastrously bad pacing, can't imagine how much worse Xenoblade Chronicles must be.
Yeah I can't help but chime in on this bit. I'm sure it has more to do with my age than the game itself but Lost Odyssey was that game that made me finally say "Enough is enough. I don't care how much I'm enjoying the combat system, I just can't take this pace of game anymore." ...and I played like 60 hours of Blue Dragon ffs.
I love classic JRPG gameplay but I feel at some point these games became less about gameplay and characters, and more about who can write the most lines of dialogue and render the most impressive and/or longest cutscenes.
@euandewar: I very rarely go to Kotaku but I can't help but give them a little credit for not having numeric scores instead of complaining about how pesky mathematics misinterpreted the number they gave again :)