The European website is updated with a message from Final Fantasy XIII’s director Motomu Toriyama. He writes about the negative reactions from reviewers regarding the linearity of FFXIII.
He writes that the first part of the game takes place in Cocoon and is linear to emphasis the story and drama of Final Fantasy XIII while the second part of the game is an open world with many things to do
The linear gameplay didn’t really bother me as you may have read in my review. The linearity is the same as Final Fantasy X so people will most likely love both the linear and non-linear gameplay.
Edit: Furthermore the North American site has a new “Developers” section with this message so expect more messages in the future!