The controls in the first one are improved over the original, but still somewhat dated. The second one is amazingIs this how one feels that has already played it? I guess it doesn't feel clunky to me because I never played it before. Glad to hear it gets even better!
The first one does start a bit slow and drags a bit after Eden Prime while you're on the citadel. Doing some of those early side quests sets up a lot of the backstory and allows you to start building reputation. But they can be tedious. I sort of feel like if you only do the main missions and not the side quests you lose a lot of context. It comes down to how you play the game.