Role-playing Games and the Problem of Sympathetic Characters

The Problem With Story has an editorial that criticizes some design choices in Fallout 3 and games of its ilk, on the basis that they make it difficult to feel sympathy for the characters. The culprits here seem to be the lack of voice acting and the first-person view:
Part of the problem here is that I never see my character's face. Whereas in games such as Mass Effect each conversation plays out by having a fully-voiced protagonist interact with NPCs based on dialogue decisions you've picked out, here, there is no audio.

You click a response based on what you want to say. Sure, you might argue that it's your character who is making the response, and that you're completing a (good) run or a (bad) run, but there is absolutely nothing about the character that dictates this. It's purely the player's decision to follow a certain path.

Perhaps we don't play RPGs for rich characterisation. That's fine. It's been that way for years. But it can be done. Notwithstanding Mass Effect's shortcomings, it places the player inside the middle of the action but without the abandonment Fallout 3 uses to create immersion.

Instead, we see your own face, reflect on the tone in your voice and become more of a puppet master than an avatar for your decisions. You're here controlling the action in every conversation, but you're not necessarily a part of it.

Thanks RPGWatch.