While Dragon Age: Origins is widely acknowledged as one of the best RPGs of the last years, this expansion doesn't have such a good reputation. Let me say right now that Awakening, while not as great as Origins, is a fine way to get "more of the same".
The biggest issue with Awakening, the bugs plaguing the game on its release, has been mostly solved with Patch 1.04, so don't forget to download it from the official site. With the patch I stumbled into maybe two or three minor, non game-breaking bugs throughout my whole playthrough.
In Awakening the player faces a new Darkspawn threat as the Commander of a Grey Warden keep. You can either create a new character or import your old one from Origins - in which case the consequences of a couple of choices will carry over, and you'll keep the money and most of your gear, making the expansion easier. A couple of old friends have cameos; crude Dwarf Oghren is the only veteran with a major role here.
New party members are OK, although some are a bit nondescript and, in general, nowhere as vivid as those of Origins - let's say they range from good to decent. The lack of BioWare's trademark romances and of the opportunity to talk to party members at any moment are also a disappointment.
On the plus side, the story is interesting, there are some compelling quests - some tied to your management of the keep, like the strongholds in Baldur's Gate 2 - and difficult choices to be made.
As for the length, I finished Awakening in 13-14 hours, and I'm neither a fast player nor a completist, doing most but not all sidequests - I guess it will take you about 25% of the time you needed to finish Origins. It's an easy game, so those who love challenge will have to try it on the "nightmare" difficulty.
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