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As far as NPC party members go, I've always preferred the pre-made NPCs you meet along the way. It's one of the reasons I preferred Baldur's Gate over Icewind Dale.
For instance, I was pretty happy when I picked up the Drow Cleric in BG1 (Viconia?). I remember giving her my first +3 weapon, than I wake up the next morning and she was gone along with my most powerful weapon, apparently my party was too good aligned for her liking. I got shafted but that was an awesome moment and a great memory in my personal gaming history.
Same with games like Mass Effect, I love colorful NPCs. Mordin Solus was my favorite. ME would have been a lot less fun with my own premade characters with no personal backstories.