OK, the camera is floaty, the getting into cover is finicky, there aren't many options for movement (rolling and the like), and sprinting was awkwardly fast compared to normal movement.
No it's not. Saying "the controls" aren't tight is just a bad descriptive term.
Except it is. Quite literally with some mods, in fact. I don't know where you're getting the "volley" word from. If anything the sequels include more volleys because they actually force you to use the cover system. You can just run straight through ME1 without thinking at all.
The mechanics are fine, but the shooting is not just "leave your finger in the trigger" kind of shooting, like said, it's volley based.
But what did that do other than slightly change DPS? None of the weapons felt very different. They didn't have distinct enough firing patterns.
the weapons were not homogenous unless you didn't bother customizing them with different mods and ammo types.
I don't understand your point here. What about a grenade launcher vs. a mini-nuke launcher illustrates the RPG/Shooter divide? Regardless though, ME1 doesn't have more tactical options. It just doesn't. It was just as much a TPS as its successors, except it just wasn't as good at it.
when people talk about RPG elements lost is about those statistical and functional variances given by those items. Making a mini-nuke heavy weapon vs a grenade launcher is the RPG vs Shooter design people complain about. You prefer one, that's fine, that doesn't make the other one "wrong".
But it is the most optimal strategy. It requires the least amount of effort for the quickest and best results. The problem isn't that I want to play like that (I don't), the problem is that the game is so poorly designed that I can play like that. There are no mechanics that force me to play more tactically.
I'm sure you played like that, but it isn't the most "optimal strategy" just because you did.
That's not true. Noveria, Feros, Therum, Ilos, all of them were mainly a bunch of interconnected rooms with random crates in them. Most of the rest were those prefab bases, which generally had worse level design. Very rarely did you play in open environments, and when you did, they were either bland like the uncharted worlds or restricted like Virmire.
Most of the times they were more open areas, so your "connected rooms" complaint sounds false anyway. Go play it again.
And the sequels were better for dropping the first game's janky gunplay, inventory, and leveling, and succeed despite their somewhat worse plot and atmosphere because of their endearing character moments. I like all the Mass Effect games, but I don't kid myself about their shortcomings.
Call it what you like, it was fine and any ME was a better game for its atmosphere and plot than for whatever mechanical improvements they tried to do like scanning planets or buying fuel and running from tiny reapers in the galaxy map.
It's true though, that Garrus wasn't himself until 2. BioWare gave him a personality.
Like I said, Mass Effect focused on character development almost exclusively, and had for more characters, many who benefited from already being introduced. I liked Legion and Thane and Mordin, etc. Saying Garrus wasn't Garrus until 2 is just ridiculous, tho. Wrex and Ash and Liara and Garrus were all themselvessince 1. Of course they are going to grow with more development in subsequent games, that's just common sense. It doesn't make the particular character writing unoriginal in any cases, i.e. daddy issues for everyone.