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Mass Effect 2 is fine gameplay wise; the new ammo system has its faults (I would've preferred they stick to the overheating mechanic) and Charm and Intimidate are no longer upgradable skills, which can make resolving conflicts difficult or outright impossible, sometimes affecting the entire rest of the game.
Story-wise, there are a lot of pros…but also some cons.
The good: Watching your old squadmates continue to develop as characters (especially Wrex, as his fate depends on what you did in the first game) is a great experience, and the new squadmates are a colorful bunch themselves. Most of the sidequests you may have completed in the first game are referenced here in various ways, depending on how they were resolved. It really enforces continuity and the feeling that your choices make a difference, however minor.
The bad: There are a few extremely annoying glitches that result in some sidequest resolutions being followed up on incorrectly. Shepard's death and resurrection at the very beginning is rather clumsily handled; the suddeness of it was so jarring I thought it was going to turn out to be a nightmare at first. The game's whole atmosphere is much darker than its predecessor, sometimes so much as to feel like a different series altogether, and the Reaper threat, while looming visibly in the background, isn't the main conflict of the story.
So while Mass Effect 2 is excellent on its own, as a sequel it's rather flawed (although as mentioned above, the Call Backs and Character Development are handled extremely well). If you liked the first game, definitely give it a shot.
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