I am embarking on my first single player game of Dragon Age. I am an old school RPG gamer and have been out of the loop for a while...haven't played since the old Baldurs Gate days. Will I like this game? I also have the Awakenings expansion. Do I need to play through the original DA before I install it? Any tips or tricks I could use?
I think if you enjoy Baldur's Gate series you will enjoy Dragon Age: Origins. You can go ahead and install Awakenings; it doesn't matter.. The Awakenings campaign takes place after the storyline of DA: O (unfortunately Awakenings sn't nearly as good and I found it too easy even on the highest difficulty setting) but worth playing once. DA: O has it's issues; one particular issue is that the classes aren't balanced well- in general Mages > Warriors > Rogues. But it has a decent story and lots of side quests and secrets to find. You may need to consult a wiki / walkthrough to find some of the most powerful weapons.
Here's how I would actually suggest playing Dragon Age Origins: Create a character and play through their Origin story (probably a couple hours long each) until you get taken to Ostagar. Do this for several of the origins...Maybe even all 6. The Origins completely different and this will let you try out the different classes without having to replay anything. Then choose your favorite character and actually play the whole game.
I'd also say that most of the DLC for Dragon Age Origins is actually worth getting; in particular, the Witch Hunt DLC is great especially if you like Morrigan's character.