The sphere grid was a lot more brilliant than the job board, which was a surprise to me because I expected Matsuno to mercilessly deliver on the mechanics in FFXII. Instead the game leaned more on the gambit system than the job board setup.
As for Nomura, I feel that he tends to design characters visually that are very similar, but fortunately the scenarios his characters are used in are very different and as such their personalities end up being pretty dissimilar. For instance, Cloud, Squall and Tidus are very different and face very different challenges. I guess that's a compliment to Kitase and Nojima's scenario writing more than to Nomura's designs, but I'm not going to discard FFXIII yet. There are interesting concepts in both FFXIII and Versus, and the idea of a Fabula Nova Crystallis is appealing and reeks of Nojima/Kitase, so I'm going to wait and see what happens.