Anyhow, I said I'd do a quick spoiler-free review of it, so here goes.
Dragon Age: Origins Awakening
Game type: RPG
Time demand: You can save whenever (except for cutscenes/dialogue combat), and overall the game will run you maaaaybe 15 hours, if you poke around a lot. (Of course, the main game will take a bit longer...)
Platform: X-Box 360, PS3, PC
Released: 3/16/10 (for the U.S. version, other versions a couple days after)
What it is:
For those who have somehow missed me blathering about it before, this is the first "expansion" for Dragon Age: Origins. Which I put in quotes, because rather than adding onto the game and enriching the overall experience, it's really more of a mini-sequel. Which I guess makes it easier now that the RPGs are on consoles as much as (or more than) on PCs, but still.
Anyhow, if you haven't yet played Dragon Age: Origins, this won't really help you much (and you should also do so like RIGHT NOW young man/woman). If you have, well, this should be easy and fairly brief.
The game is... basically a shortened version of Dragon Age. The same general structure, the same combat, style, strengths, yadda yadda. Except that in a way it's not the same strengths, because unfortunately there's not as much room for them to develop. Characters for instance are still interesting and you still get to see them develop in different ways, but conversation options in this one are strictly limited (boo!), and there's less game-time to get to know all of them, especially the later ones you recruit, not to mention less gifts and things, and shorter character quests.
That's one of the main problems with everything, really. Dragon Age works well because it's, well, grand. Characters are deep and have a ton of interaction, there are oodles of quests that can get quite intricate, long "dungeons" to explore, basically tons of everything. With this expansion, there's just... less, and it hurts things a bit.
Something that possibly hurts the game even more is the fact that it seems obviously rushed. Not only the truncated nature of some of the events, but just the fact that the game is buggy as hell. Usually it's just minor stuff that's slightly annoying each on its own, but there's been at least one time I've ended up having to go back to a previous save.
And then we've got some questionable decisions on BioWare's part. Like, where the hell is my dog? And the fact that they decided to practically ignore the previous game in places - like with some characters, and some endings. Not going into more detail because of, well, spoilyness. Or the lack of romance. Boo!
There are however a few improvements, such as an extra specialization and more specialization choices, the ability (with an expensive item of course) to re-spec your characters, and the fact that characters not in your active party may still have their approval rating change depending on your choices. (Which some I guess may consider not an improvement, but I like it, at least for this particular expansion.)
So anyhow. Overall opinion? I generally liked the game, since when all's said and done it still has a lot of the elements of Dragon Age but a) I don't think it has as much replay value as the original game (or at least, doesn't *drive* me to replay it and see all the different ways things go as much as the original did), b) It's not *as good* as the original game (not that that's damning the game, exactly), c) It would work a lot better without the bugs, so here's hoping for a patch? and d) Most to the point: I'm not sure it's worth the current price point. I mean, the expansion is almost as expensive as the main game at this point (not too extremely long after the original came out, mind), and not *nearly* as beefy. With the inability to use the stuff in this expansion in the main game (as with most/many expansions), and the shortness and rushed feeling... I just don't know if it's worth the price, at least to many players. To those of us obsessed with Dragon Age... maybe more so, but still. It's something to consider.
Recommendation: I really don't know. It depends on how much you adore the original. If you're not completely driven to get this and play it now, you might find it worthwhile to wait for bug fixes/a price drop, but on its own, the game is good. Just not as good as I'd have hoped.