Symphonia's battle system can be 3D, but as far as the player is concerned, its strictly 2D (which, when I think about it, annoyed the crap out of me back when I played through it).
IIRC the party can move better (ie; in "3d") while Lloyd-o (or whoever is 1P) is stuck within the "left-right" dimension. Bugged me too and I kept trying to free run. That's what bugs me. Abyss of course made things too easy as soon as it had free run. ...Go figure.
I'm wondering how Zesteria is gonna play out. I'd like to think the developers have made pretty logical progressions in the series that still retain enough "Tales-ness" to keep people happy.
I've got my Tales of Symphonia Chronicles yesterday too and a near catastrophic tv-failure, which I hope I've managed to fix for now. Reminds me that these don't necessarily last for more than 4-5 years these days. Wish I had money and I'd buy a more quality brand one than LG.
Anyway, the game. It is a bit more archaic than I was expecting. Reminds me that not all stuff of ps2 gen was FF or VP2 level productions, but that is just me being stupid. Oh well, no big deal. There are some issues such as getting stuck in the walls which provide minor annoyances, the world map movement also seems unnecessarily tedious. This battle system also really isn't 3D isn't it? The story is also a bit too... hmmm, build around unnecessary devices that I don't really care about and it already threw at me a five character party that I don't even feel like I know half of. Overall, I hope it balances out a bit. I'm really only hoping for a basic entertaining ride spiced with stupid, yet entertaining things to do. Will continue playing in a few hours.
As for the rest of the problems, little I can say other than, well, the game is archaic because it is
old. I suppose Star Ocean 3 had a better grip of real-time battle (released the same year too, I think) and the series has since "complicated it up" to be much better.
Characters are extremely fleshed out, just give it time if you can. Things sort of "stay simple" among the characters as the plot "plays nice", but as soon as things get complicated after you go to the Seals, you get more out of them. Most complaints plot-wise were because this game felt too much like FFX at the time otherwise.