FF7 is special in people's hearts because it was rather legendary when it was first came out. As Dark mentioned, it didn't age well at all. It's not /that/ surprising if you don't fall in love with it straight away. However, anyone who played it when it first came out (for the most part) as I did ought to really love and appreciate it. It's still one of my favorite games to replay.
I'll briefly list some FF's in terms of order I think would be a good place to start.
FFX - A very nice intro to the series. Voice acting, great graphics, a pretty fun storyline, and some really cool mini games. It is getting a remake in high-def for the PS3 so you could wait for that if you wanted.
FF6 (3) - I stand by the fact that it has one of the deeper, more fun storylines than most of the other FF's. The characters are really fun and there's a fair bit of humor. Also has the best, most maniacal villain of any RPG to date. Has aged about as well as any of the classic SNES games. Make sure you get the GBA port.
FF Tactics: War of the Lions - The PSP / iOS port did this game justice. The storyline was very poorly translated on the PSX but this has been remedied. I go back and forth as having this as my favorite.
FF5 - Similar to FF6. Another really fun storyline. Can get this on the PS Network.
FF7 - Has aged poorly, but is still a great game once you get past some of the failings of the graphics. The Materia system is rather amazing to play with. If this game ever gets a remake, it'll probably bump up to #1 on my list.
FF1 - The original, and what an original it was. Very, very fun if you can get past some of the shortcomings. GBA port fixes several of them.
FF9 - Gameplay is somewhat fun, and it's a cool story with likeable characters. I really like the forging system in that game. However, there's a lot of broken and/or useless skills, and some of the mini games are sorely lacking in depth.
SlyReaper wrote:And how many hours of gameplay do I need to get through before I can leave the first city? Honestly I'm not even sure where I'm supposed to go now. Barret said something about blowing up another generator in Sector 5, but I have no idea how to get there. Still haven't figured out how to bring up an in game map if there is one.
I might give 10 a go if 7 doesn't get better. It's a PS2 game, so it should hopefully be considerably more advanced to take advantage of the better hardware.
There's no in-game map except on the overworld. Also, I think it's around about 3 or 4 hours of gameplay (if you know where you're going) before you're out on the open world. That's not /that/ uncommon. Don't quote me on that time, but there's a lot to do in Midgaard early on.