The combat in Dragon Age is excellent, it's just not what some expect. There's no pretence that it's action based, it simply plays the movements out in time according to the players' stats, which it has to do because it's an RPG first and an action game, erm, well ... not even second actually. It's an RPG through and through with no action elements at all IMHO, which moves it away from Mass Effect, which it resembles in its presentation and narrative. It took me a while to get used to because around the time of Baldur's Gate/Icewind Dale I was playing Colonization and not a lot else, and wasn't interested in RPGs. I had a boxed set of Baldur's Gate II, Shadows of Amn but never really played it - shame on me!
But this kind of half-real time half strategic combat isn't that unusual and although it was never going to work perfectly on the 360, it's pretty good actually. I have only played the 360 game on normal and I bet it's really difficult to keep party members out of the way of bombs and AoE spells on hard, which you have to do on higher difficulties because they do damage to your own NPCs.
What you have is a game where you need to balance the abilities of all the members of the party and get them to complement each other. Every time I've played it I've always tried to select a team with balanced abilities but you always go around thinking 'if only I had Morrigan/Sten/Leliana because I could do with [insert skill here]'. You always have to make do with what you've got, which makes the perfect battle something you're always trying to achieve.
I love the way the combat makes you think tactically but still puts time pressure on you. In my first game I played very badly - didn't really know how to build a decent character (he was sort of a warrior but I gave him dual-wield skills because they looked cool so he ended up being not a bad damager but too vulnerable), didn't max up the party's approval ratings as I did in subsequent plays, and had to make a few shortcuts (like caving in to Kolgrim first time around and only handing him his arse later on outside the temple). I was well short of where I needed to be for the last match in the Provings in Orzammar and spent literally minutes at points with my finger on the left trigger scanning the enemies and deciding who needed to use a special skill, who needed a potion, and so on. What you don't want to see in those situations is a team member that's still alive but is going to be brown bread soon after you start the action again because they're stunned and can't take a potion. Especially if it's Wynne who's usually your bail-out specialist.
TBH for Bioware to have got anything like as close to the level of popularity with DA:O as they did with ME is something of an achievement in its own right. After all, they risked massively falling between two stools with this. It is quite clearly a pared down version of Baldur's Gate and could have been criticized for offering a 'watered down' RPG experience. It probably is in some quarters, and even I wish they'd included skills such as Runecrafting in the original rather than just the expansion pack - or at least allowed you to install the enhancements into the original game once you bought the expansion. But I think there are more than enough types of talents and spells to keep you interested and there's little in the way of duplication or redundancy. I mean, how many different types of damage over time spell (for example) do you need?!?