I've never played a fantasy RPG, in fact, Mass Effect 1 & 2 are the first games I've played that even carry an RPG label. To me, the game is simply a 3rd person shooter with a lot of dialog and story in front of it. Right up my alley.
The biotics just seem like more weapons. You fire one, a ball of something goes flying, it hits a target and goes boom. That's simply a weapon in my book, some of the projectiles even look just like the plasma rifle projectiles in Quake 4.
I think people calling them spells are trying to tuck ME into that RPG genre. It's really not an RPG at all, not that I would know, but from what I've read, a classic RPG plays nothing like Mass Effect. That's fine by me. However you want to label Mass Effect, it's just a really fun shooter with a great story and great voice acting in front of it.
One of the things I really loved in Far Cry was the sniping. Mass Effect delivers all that and more. I just love all the awesome sniper action in ME 2.