Interacting with the alien denizens of the various planets is simple, but multifaceted at the same time. During a mission that took us through a space saloon, we were charged with extracting some information from the fish-eyed alien bartender. The conversation trees have been distilled into six possible choices that correspond to six emotional stances that are always mapped to the same position on your analogue stick.
So, if you're a huge fan of intimidating everyone you come across, you'll be constantly jerking the analogue stick to the lower right. We chose to intimidate the bartender and, once our selection was made, Commander Shepard whipped out a blaster and pointed it directly at the bartender's slightly oblong head... he was much friendlier after that.
Had that bartender been less friendly, however, combat is just as intuitive as conversing. Placing your view just over Shepard's right shoulder, Mass Effect handles combat like a third-person shooter - extremely action-oriented for an RPG.
Above: A diverse selection of humanoids and aliens inhabit the multitude of planets