Playing Dragon Age: Origins at the beginning of this summer was awesome. I loved the game, and it was just pure wish fulfilment. I played as Tox the mage, and I felt like I could do whatever I wanted. Jowan wanted me to help him escape? Pfft. Although I hated the Circle for its oppression of us mages - and the Chantry in general, seeing as I am quite the atheist - I know myself. And I know that I am a teacher's pet who loves being liked by the authority, so of course I went to Irwing to relay Jowan's plan.
My first play-through was freaking wonderful. I know that I probably "missed" a lot, but I also did what I thought was best, and what I thought that I would do - if I lived in a world where killing people has no real consequence, and I can use magic, that is. I killed Conner (I didn't realize you could have pushed for not killing him until my second play-through as not-me), ended up thinking Alistair was whiny and annoying, whilst Morrigan was just rude and unlikable, and bonded most with Sten out of all my companions. Of course, we had our disagreements, but when Dragon Age: Origins was done I left with him to Seheron, or Par Vollen; wherever it was that he wished to go. Oh, and of course I put Anora on the throne. She was freaking brilliant, whilst Alistair just kept whining - until the last moment - about how he didn't want to be the king. I ended up bonding with Loghain as well, after he joined me.
Bottom-line, I felt like I controlled myself. I could customize my own backstory, make my in-game avatar look like me, and just make the choices that I suspect I would have made if I was put in that position. It was amazing.
For the last month, I have been playing Dragon Age 2, and while the game is really good in its own right (though the reuse of corridors and caves frustrates me), I am really disappointed with the character of Hawke.
You can modify Hawke, somewhat. Make him or her look like you, romance him or her with whoever you want, and change his or her tone of voice depending on what you say and do. But. You can't make the choices you want to make... just the choices Hawke's defined character has.
I have a play-through now as Erzebeth, a snarky and selfish blood mage. Why have the option of playing a blood mage, Bioware dear, if you can't play as a blood mage? Because the "undefined character" Hawke doesn't want to play along the blood mages, even though Erzebeth wants to. Hawke doesn't sympathize with the Qunari, even though the mage Tox kind of really wants to be on their side.
The role of Hawke is very limiting. You can't play as "yourself". You can't play as a character you've made up. You can only play as a different looking Hawke, with different tones of his or her voice.
At least Anders had some sense in DA2. In Awakening he thought I was mad to suggest the Circle break its ties with the templars; in DA2, he finally realized what the Warden Commander was getting at. Good for him.