I agree with your thought's there, though i'm not sure how many think it was an improvement. Frankly, i'm not a bioware fan but enjoyed ME1 enough for me to get ME3 with the risk of $90. You know, Really it was DA that ruined my appetite
I've heard ME2 called an improvement a lot. Battles went better for me in 2, but I was a soldier and now I'm a vanguard. Which i still love, but I miss being trained in every weapon.
Planet scanning isnt so bad if you don't go for every last mineral ever. Go for the eezo, pick up enough of the others along the way and you'll still afford every upgrade ever.
Hammerhead still sucks compared to Mako. I love that you can scale right up a mountain in the latter.
PS. I turned down Liara. That bitch moves way too fast for my tastes. I guess I'll romance Kaidan, because I want him and Garrus to fight over me in ME3. Yes, that's the only reason I'm romancing anyone in ME1, so Garrus can be all 'neener.'