On my first playthrough, I was more confused than anything else. Between the cut content and my own impatience, I missed out on pretty much the entire meat of the plot by skipping through or just plain avoiding dialogue. When I reached the end of the game and it stopped so abruptly, I was pretty pissed off. I didn't play the game for almost a year after I first got it, because I really and honestly felt it was a ****ty game.
Then a friend urged me to try playing the game again and put more effort into pursuing dialogue. I humoured him, and was pleasantly surprised to have a good number of the questions I had from my first playthrough answered, usually by Kreia or G0-T0. I also found that the game felt more complete when played as a female character, though I could just feel that way because my first playthrough was male and, as I mentioned, that was a terrible experience. Now, with the all-but-entirely-completed TSLRP (or even the slightly less extensive but still quite helpful) TSLRCM, the game feels much more cohesive and intelligent instead of rushed and tossed together. The plot is still very much dialogue based, however, far more so than its predecessor.
As for the emotional feel, I definitely agree that it was much darker and more vague about the lines of good and evil (when it comes to the bigger picture, anyway; the dark and light options for your PC couldn't be more blatant). With the first game, my desire to play came from the action and characters themselves. In the second, I find I'm compelled to play more out of a desire to hear or learn something I haven't in a previous playthrough. This despite the fact that I've played it countless times now; I still hope to see or hear something new every time I play.
I will agree that in more recent playthroughs, both Peragus and Telos are a massive drag. I can take as long as a week to play through them, in only - at the absolute most - eight to ten hours of gameplay. I just can't put myself through them for too long in one go.