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 problem of Awakening, the bugs that plagued it on its release, has apparently been 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.
Awakening makes the player face a new Darkspawn threat as the Grey Warden Commander of Vigil's Keep. You can either create a new character or import your Warden 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 much easier. A couple of old friends have cameos, while crude Dwarf Oghren is the only veteran with a major role in Awakening.
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 - a certain number of them 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 around 13-14 hours, and I'm neither a fast player nor a completist, doing most but not all of the sidequests - I guess the game 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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