Mass Effect's world was a great one. Thing is, if you weren't plowing through the main story arc, the whole thing felt a little...empty. Especially the game's cookie-cutter side-quests, of which I tried 3-4 before having to stop, for fear of death by acute boredom. But don't be angry at BioWare! They had stuff needed doing for the first game, and it's something they'll have fixed for Mass Effect 2. At least according to BioWare GM Greg Zeschuk they will:
Side quests can sometimes be left on the side, so to speak. Pardon the pun. But a lot of times it's even just getting that whole game done, that first shot [that is important] . We look at "Mass Effect 2" as incredibly exciting. Just the amount of effort and knowledge and know-how that went into building the technology for the first one is huge, and [we now have]the chance to actually make things a little bit richer.
See? They had to get all that nuts-and-bolts stuff done. Now it's done, they can put the man-hours into actually fleshing the thing out. Make the side-quests more of a quest, less an exercise in self-abuse.
BioWare: How We Can Improve The Side Quests For 'Mass Effect 2′ [MTV]