Legendia's the series blacksheep. It was designed by an entirely different team than the two in Tales Studio, and was met with lukewarm response here. I'd say it was decent, but in some ways felt like a generic entry. Didn't really offer any interesting twists to the gameplay
And yes. Honestly, I feel that the PS2 version of Symphonia is awful. Loading times are literally 6-7 seconds to load and end a battle. The framerate also got cut in half (60 to 30FPS... even though sometimes it feels less than 30FPS), which IMO hurt the feel of the game in a big way. The extras weren't worth the technical problems. Though it does work on the PS2 hard drive which brings loading back down the GameCube's levels (2 seconds average).
But it hardly matters. Tales of the Abyss is the game Symphonia aspired to be, from what I can tell. A lot of refinements to the system and additions. Most people who import the series from what I've seen say it's easily the best entry in the series. I only put a few hours into the import because I wanted to see if it would come out in english, and it will be, thank the gods. Symphonia IS my current favorite, because of its gameplay... but I can see Abyss making it completely obsolete.
Unless you're a hardcore Phantasia fan interested in the ancient history of its world... just forget Symphonia and wait for Abyss!
Oh, and on the subject of ToD2. I got my executable file script dumper and am currently translating as much of the items list as I possibly can.