Mass Effect 2
On one hand, it boasts a story of comparable quality and a leap forward in combat gameplay. It easily warrants more than one playthrough.
On the other hand… must they excise so much of what makes a game an RPG? I’m speaking mostly about the level system, looting, item customization, and a handful of other things that were completely retooled from the previous Mass Effect.
But in one other aspect, too. In the real world, stuff exists on the edges of the frame. Stuff you’ll never end up examining in detail, but which exists even so. This stuff is important! It lends crucial verisimilitude to the game’s universe! When it’s trimmed, as it seems to have been in Mass Effect 2, that universe feels stark and linear, as though you were on a “save the galaxy” amusement park ride. Tycho explains it better.
Malarky. A level system, item customization, and looting do not a good RPG make. What matters is PLAYING THE ROLE, which ME2 allows you to do magnificently.