I, too, was very frustrated by the combat at first. I actually thought the combat mechanics in TW1 were great, and I was initially sad that they had changed.
That said, I'm learning to enjoy the combat quite a bit now that I've gotten used to it. Others have mentioned that you have to use *all* tools at your disposal (signs, traps, bombs), even for "easy" enemies, and especially in group combat situations.
Really the only complaints I still have are:
1. The targeting system is kind of dumb at times. It really relies on the camera angle, not the angle of Gearalt, which has, more than once, had me slicing air when I thought I was attacking an enemy. Also, in the prologue mission where I was sneaking through the dungeon, it would often target the torches rather than a chest on the ground, so when I thought I was looting I would light up the whole hallway and, oops, there's a guard!
2. After certain combat movements there is a slight delay where keyboard input seems to be ignored. I know this is a timing issue, but seriously, in group combat who can wait to come to a full upright stand-still before dodging in another direction. TW1 was a little more responsive in this respect, I think. Also, I really miss being able to flip over enemies, especially when being surrounded in group combat.
3. I find that I don't use strong attack too much, mostly because it takes too long to swing the sword. I sometimes use it in one-on-one combat, but if you rapidly hit an enemy with fast attack, you can keep them off balance pretty well. Maybe later sword skill enhancements will make strong attack a better option.
4. Inventory management is kind of tedious. It reminds me of the inventory in Mass Effect 1 -- you can carry a lot of stuff, but you have to look through a long list to find what you want.
That's really it. I'm loving the game so far. The graphics are amazing, the story is compelling, and the characters are rich. It is easily becoming a favorite.
Your second point is what' s killing the game for me. combat feels so unfinished because of it