There is one thing that every review I read of Mass Effect 2 got right. They streamlined the action. Thsi game plays like a well written action movie, and still keeps all the good parts intact.
I remember thinking when I completed Mass Effect 1, that I couldn't imagine playing the game without the controller. There is something about the balance, the controls, that make Mass Effect really draw you in on the console. I'm sure PC owners would debate it, but for me that was a nice way to distinguish an action RPG from a traditional one.
And it worked to.
Mass Effect 2 just got around and streamlined some of tradition out. The shooting is fun, similar to the first one (enough that it feels natural), but different in that it feels faster. The powers make a return, and your crew reallly feels dangerous. In the first game, I felt that the enemies scaled with you, in this one, I feel like I was making progress in being as dangerous as them as I leveled my weapons. Which is what progress should feel like.
I only had one real point of contention (and it's moot).
I love the guy, and after watching the West Wing, I know his voice, so for me it was tought to look at the Illusive man (TIM) and not see the best TV President ever. It didn't hurt that TIM sorta resembled him. It was a minor distraction, and actually drew me in more.
Overall though, Mass Effect got rid of more of the traditional RPG elements, and while there are still some more they can leave out, it definitely reached a balance on what it kept. Losing the RPG allowed us to stay in the action more, and now the only thing I'd wished was that there had been more stages to the loyalty missions, and more assignments that needed to be done. I finished it in 38 hours, at level 26, incomparison, Dragon Age was 62 hours. If you're streamlining down to the neccessity, then add in more content.
I can't complain though, the first game was about the same time. I guess they have that in common.
Overall, Bioware makes great games, and by now you know if you like them.