Alicization. SAO III. Whatever you want. It's actually not that bad.
Story: This season of SAO is more focused on developing and fleshing out certain parts in the story, rather than having a condensed and rushed version of the source material. This helps it in the long run, allowing for scenes to actually have impact on the story and characters to be developed. However, what this show lacks is that certain aspects of the story that were introduced at the beginning of the show or middle don't seem to carry the relevancy they could have had when getting to the end of the show. For example, our favorite Umu girl, Cardinal, is introduced in the middle of the show, but by the end, becomes irrelevant with her powers by the end. I'm trying not to spoil, but you get the idea. The story itself in this show is much better told than the first 2 seasons, however. I will say that the end of episodes do keep you on the edge, which is always nice assuming that you're invested.
Art: The art in this season is a major upgrade from the previous seasons. Shading is done way better, and scenes pop out in color. The battle scenes in the first half to the final of the show are really nicely done (even if Admin feels much different), and everyone's special abilities pop out in how different they are. With the art, I have no actual qualms.
Sound: What can I say? Music is nice, character voice acting is well done. Clown boi is creepy like he should be, Eugeo's voice drops as he becomes more and more confident in himself, etc. Everything works as it should.
Character: Oh boy, this is where it gets a little rough. I do like the improvement that they did in character development, since everyone gets a little something. Kirito uses his intuitive mind and his experience to get through the Underworld skillfully in a way that doesn't seem like complete BS, which always helps the story not feel rushed. Eugeo's character arc is pretty much throughout the entire show, where he slowly gains confidence in himself, then realizes that what he's fighting for isn't for himself. Out of everyone in the show, Eugeo becomes the most likable by the end, even with that one part that I can't talk about. Even still, certain developments in the story are explained with backstory that gives us an actual reason as to why characters do what they do, and that can't be said for certain parts of previous seasons. Aside from the main cast, the side characters do get some development, but not much. In fact, I wish that they would have delved deeper into some of the characters with the time they had. The trainees, Tiese and Ronnie, I would say, are the only exception. They had their arc with Lord Raios, but they also were given backstories that shape their character development, and don't remain static characters. With certain others, such as Kirito and Eugeo's mentors, could have been developed further. With the relationship between the 4, I feel that the setup would have prompted more development between the mentors, but that is one part that's lacking from the show. Sortiliena is an interesting character with an interesting backstory, but that's wasted on progressing the training montage with Kirito and his fights. Speaking of that, the guy he fights with doesn't really get much character for the first "villain" of the show. However, overall, with the main characters, this season is definitely the best we've gotten, although I feel the first season did the minor characters better.
Enjoyment: Despite the stigma against SAO, this season was solid and held its ground. It had shaky moments, but those were smaller parts within episodes that could easily be remedied by good ol' plot development. Even if side characters could have been developed more, that didn't affect the overall story. In all, I feel that this is a nice season of a show in general, but a great step in the right direction for SAO. It's like Ordinal Scale all over again.
Overall: Did this season live up to the expectations? Yes and no. The show did well in story when compared to the other seasons, and is a good contender when compared against the best out of all SAO, Ordinal Scale. However, it did lack certain developments of characters that could have been fleshed out even more. Does it deserve the hate that's automatically given due to the name, like GGO Alternative? No, absolutely not. However, what you give this series as a whole, judging by the content alone, is entirely up to you. If you've watched one season of SAO, I recommend this season. If you haven't touched SAO, then this season is still a good watch, but based on the base material needed to understand this season, it'd be a decision that I can't justify nor retract a claim for watching or not. Overall verdict? It's pretty good.