Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening is billed as an "expansion pack" to the main game. Normally, we wouldn't review an expansion pack on this site, for the same reason you don't generally see us writing up individual reviews for your average DLC.
But Awakening is different. It is full of enough content in its own right that it could be considered a game all its own. In fact, you can purchase Awakening on disc and play it without ever playing the first Dragon Age, though I recommend against it.
So, we figure Awakening deserves an exception. But what can be said about Awakening that hasn't already been said about its predecessor? Where controls, sound, interface, and gameplay are concerned, it's more of the same (both good and bad). What you're getting, however, is good story that invites you back into the DA world while expanding on Bioware's other universe.
You can create a new character to play through this story, but if you do, you're a moron. Import your character from Dragon Age. He/she will enter Awakening as the fresh new "Warden Commander" of Vigil's Keep, just a few months after you ended the Blight. You'll have the skills and most of the items you had when you finished the first game.
In addition to the adventuring you'd expect from having played Dragon Age (and there are plenty of quests and side quests to go on), you also get to manage your keep. You'll make decisions about defenses, troop assignments, and judgments on peasants and nobility. In effect, it's a shallow "city building" feature reminiscent of what we saw in Assassin's Creed 2.
The "Awakening" (it's not just a subtitle, naturally . . . this is Bioware, after all!) was a neat story element that does a fantastic job of adding to the DA universe's depth. The Darkspawn can speak? Some are intelligent? What does this mean for the future of Ferelden and the rest of the world? It's a future barely explored in this game, and I hope Bioware intends to do more than just tease us with the question.
The new characters you'll meet are not as dynamic or, frankly, interesting as those from the first game. But, maybe that's because I didn't spend enough time with them. At just about 13 hours, I was off to kill the final boss. That's not to say I was disappointed in the game's time. Quite the contrary, actually. It ended at about the time I wanted it to.
Game Title: Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: 16th Mar 2010