Originally Posted by Lynk Former
Does that mean Mass Effect 1 was a watered down shooter?
Nope, it was an RPG with shooter elements. I know this was directed at DarthP, but it's a good opportunity to try to make a point.
There is no philosophy involved in what is an RPG in the context of video game genres. Just like there's no philosophy involved in what is a Real-Time Strategy game. In order for a video game to be classified into the RPG genre of video games, it must posses a specific set of gameplay elements. The same applies to RTS games, Shooters (Third and First person), Action games, P&C Adventures and any other genres you can think of.
I think the genre confusion can happen when a developer borrows gameplay elements from another genre in order to enrich the gameplay of their game (this is the reason most "modern RPGs" give the player the ability to talk to people like he can in good old LucasArts adventure games). This is especially the case if a game is marketed as belonging to base genre A while borrowing elements from genre B, when in fact it belongs to base genre B and borrows elements from genre A.
Since we're talking about RPGs, here are some related examples.
Darksiders was an Action Adventure game. There's no doubt about it - it possessed all gameplay elements of such a game, but it also borrowed certain RPG elements to enrich its gameplay. Namely, you had some light progression in the form of primary weapon level ups gained by gathering enough experience (the gathering was done by killing enemies), as well as a limited inventory and weapon upgrades. You could also buy new/upgrade your weapon combos and abilities at Vulgrim's store. So you could say this game was an Action Adventure with RPG elements.
A similar example would be the Assassin's Creed game series (specifically ACII and AC:B).
On the other hand a more recent example of an action RPG would be Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga. This game has all the elements of a classic RPG - inventory with lots of slots, attributes, a bunch of skills (where each skill/spell can be upgraded at least five times), quests, character progression; to name a few. What this game also has is real-time combat (also labeled as button-mashing combat by some) where one click equals one weapon swing (or one arrow shot) and where you have to position your character yourself in order for that swing/shot to count - similarly to the above mentioned Darksiders, or AC, or even Jedi Outcast/Jedi Academy. You can also jump/roll around to avoid enemy attacks, but the damage you deal is calculated based on the equipped weapons and appropriate attributes. After a certain point in the game, you will be able to turn into a dragon at will and fly around and burn stuff like a dragon tends to do. So there's even a flying element in there.
A similar example would be Two Worlds II.
Keeping all this in mind, it is correct to say that Mass Effect 2 is a Third-Person Shooter with RPG elements, while ME1 is an RPG with shooter elements. And there's nothing wrong with that. Both games have their good and bad sides, just as each genre has its good and bad sides. It is important, however, to differentiate them in order to avoid confusion.