Mass Effect 2

I'm finally getting around to playing Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 (both on PC) back-to-back, and the difference really is astounding. I enjoyed the original a hell of a lot. Internet cynics that are only capable of calling a game terrible or the greatest game ever have predictably claimed that the first ME was trash, but that's just silly. It had a fantastic atmosphere and just enough to the combat to keep you going.
The sequel? An upgrade in every imaginable way.
The most obvious is how much easier and, well, fun it is to move around and aim. BioWare's "we're trying to make this more of a shooter" wasn't PR speak for "there might be more enemies and new guns".
Presentation has been improved tenfold. The camera doesn't just slide from one spot to another or zoom in, it feels like someone is holding a camera, composing shots. Even if some of those shots are a little goofy, such as the lingering ass-shot of Miranda in her office.
What really amazes me, though, is the actual structure of the game itself. The way that missions unfold, end, lead to conversations or cinematics, then give the player a choice of what to do next has a very distinct rhythm unlike anything I've ever played. This underlying texture won't win any awards, but is exactly the sort of innovation that makes games unique.
That said, there are a few problems.
Probe mining is sort of a chore. Giving the player the option to automatically strip mine a planet for a particular element (at the expense of all the others being destroyed) would make the process less painful while still making it worthwhile to explore and read every planet's ridiculously detailed description.
Squad members sometimes default to a gun that you'd rather they didn't use. While manually telling them to switch out at the beginning of a mission isn't a hassle, doing it at the beginning of your 20th mission certainly gets a little tedious. Give us the option to set default weapons. Heck, let us get our hands dirty if we want and give us an advanced Final Fantasy XII/Dragon Age style tactics system so we can set preferred power usages and combat behaviors.
That said, I'm having a great time. I'm already planning another playthrough on a harder difficulty, which is something I never do.