To put it simply, as a mass produced franchise series for kids this is not going to be an "amazing" series. The plot is sappy and like the characters, transparent. On the other hand it is an exception, probably due to the fact that this season was written by Chiaki J. Konaka. This is the same guy who is known for some big, important animes such as Texhnolyze, Hellsing, Bubblegun Crisis, The Big O, etc... As with his other material, the feel is unusually dark and disturbed for what is supposed to be a show for young people.
Hidden underneath cliche morals about friendship n' crap, is some sophisticated, interesting material. For instance, how subtle jokes inform mature audiences about one teacher comically hitting on another during a class camp out (and getting rejected). Also, the parts concerning the hackers, unlike many other shows, are in fact not completely made up stuff. When they start talking about quantum mechanics, some of the information about faster than light travel, higgs fields, and such is legit.
In summary, this is an anime that will satisfy nostalgeia, and provide an occational, often humorous, surprise for older audiences. I will most not discount this anime as it far exceeds its bounds as "generic" franchise series (really I think its about Bandai wanting to sell merch, but oh well, guess I'm a sucker for nostalgia, still have my cards and minitures lying round somewhere).