Mass Effect 3: Did BioWare end it right?

Spoiler Alert:  This post contains massive spoilers on the plot and current endings to Mass Effect 3.  Do not read if you wish to experience the end for yourself!

By now, you probably have already heard of all the commotion on the Mass Effect 3 ending(s) and how much they “sucked” and made no sense.  I didn’t bother reading up on any of this until I finished the game, however, since I’ve finished the game, I am inclined to agree.  Also having a baby recently (the day before ME3 release date) drew my attention away from the media, giving me time focused on the game itself (when not focused on the baby).  The Mass Effect universe was (and is) beautifully done, the story amazing and emotional, but the ending definitely didn’t live up to the bar raised by the trilogy.  Perhaps that bar was set too high or that the community was expecting too much?  Could the Mass Effect story ended any other way?  Here’s my take on this controversial subject…

Take note that all that you see in this article are my personal (and biased) feelings towards the game and the ending and I’m no professional game critic / reviewer – but since I love this game / franchise and I have a site dedicated to this sort of stuff, I thought I’d insert my two cents, but I think this little picture I made pretty much sums it all up.  :)

I’ll start by giving a real life account about my experience with the ending.  This past Tuesday, I was speaking to a co-worker about Mass Effect 3 and how I had finished the game – he mentioned he read mumblings about the endings and I was ready to give him a whole speech on what I thought of the ending.  But he said he didn’t want spoilers and wanted to experience it himself as he was close to the end.  That was fine by me, I told him everything was great up till the last 5 minutes.  So the next day at work my co-worker walked by me and said, “I finished the game.  You were right, the ending was bad.  The game was great but I couldn’t believe the last 5 minutes…”  Take note that his was the first thing he said to me that morning – no “Hey, good morning!”, no “What’s up?”, just “The ending sucked”.

So if anyone from BioWare is reading this, true story on the reaction towards Mass Effect 3 and its ending.  This is how I feel, this is how many other fans feel – and of course, you know that by now.  I’m curious to know how many out there liked the ME3 ending(s) vs those that didn’t?  What’s the breakdown percentage like?  I’m surprised nobody on the BioWare forum put up a poll on whether people liked the ending (maybe they did and I missed it).  All I know is that there are so many people out there dissatisfied with the ending that they decided to do a charity drive to draw attention to their cause.  As of this writing, I think I read somewhere on the BioWare forum that approximate $65,000 had been raised with the goal being $80,000.  A Facebook page was also set up, which can be found here.  The news became big enough that even media such as CNN and Fox News picked up on it, though it doesn’t mean that much to me, but it’s nice to see that they’re covering this topic.  There has been so much uproar and talk that Dr. Ray Muzkya (co-founder of BioWare) released his comment on this subject yesterday; you can read his statement at the BioWare blog site.

Now, I don’t want people (and BioWare’s Mass Effect team) to get the wrong idea about what I’m trying to say.  I LOVE the Mass Effect universe, franchise and what they’ve done with the trilogy.  It’s the anti-climatic ending that has me (and the other fans) disappointed.  Fans started to come up with ideas on the ending, dubbed the Indoctrination Theory, where the last 10 minutes of the gameplay was really all in Shepard’s mind and that the events didn’t happen as he was knocked unconscious by the Reaper’s attack.  Personally, I’d like to believe it just to justify the ending that we got, but I highly doubted it.  I thought fans were just grasping for what wasn’t there to make themselves feel better.  It was gaining momentum till recently shot down by a deleted end scene and comments by the Mass Effect team – most of these are found in the ME: Final Hours app that was released in the iTunes App Store (though I didn’t buy it).  That depressing video can be found here: - I think they were right to remove that scene, it would’ve crushed the fans (even more).  This one video has pretty much debunked all the Indoctrination Theory ideas in less than a minute.

Okay, looks like I’m getting a bit side tracked and started reporting on the current situation, but I guess a little background info is warranted.  Getting back on topic, here are my thoughts on Mass Effect’s ending when I finished the game – not polluted by any other influences, because truly, I didn’t learn about the bad ending rants till after I had finished the game.

After speaking with the “ghost child” entity on the Citadel, I was faced with three options, A, B or C.  In my first playthrough of this part, I was totally confused at what was going on.  I was really expecting some sort of battle, like with Sovereign at the end of Mass Effect 1, not a “choose your own adventure” type A, B, C option.  I think I was still in shock while the “ghost child” entity was explaining the options to me, so I didn’t really pay attention to what was what and which path is which option.  As you can see below, there’s the three options, Left (blue), Middle (Green), Right (Red).  Though I have to say, the “green” didn’t exactly look green to me, more like blue-ish white.

So there I was, a confused Shepard, not knowing which was the path I wanted to take.  I was thinking fo destroying the Reapers, so I thought that meant taking the left path (blue).  I thought it was blue because it was the Paragon colour, symbol for the right, the just, the moral high ground.  So I went left – it killed my Shepard, destroyed all the Mass Effect Relays and made the Reapers leave.  I was confused even moreso – WTH just happened?  SNAP!  Did I take the wrong path?  I wanted to destroy the Reapers … so going the “paragon” looking path meant following the path of the Illusive Man and trying to control the Reapers?  I’ve been fighting Cerberus against this very idea since ME2!!!

So then I reloaded the save and paid more attention to the “ghost child” entity’s instructions – looks like I had to take the path on the right – the evil looking red renegade colour path.  But wait, what are you telling me, “ghost child”?  If I take this red path, it’ll still destroy all Mass Relays AND kill all synthetic life?  But I don’t want to do that either!  What about EDI and the relationship we’ve created with her as the Normandy’s crew?  How would Joker feel about this?  Wait, there’s more – the Geth will be destroyed too!  WTF?!  I’ve spent the latter half of ME2 and ME3 trying to bring peace between the Geth and the Quarians – all that work was for nothing?  I’m sure many in the Quarian fleet would be happy with this decision, but I’ve also grown attached to Legion and the “new” Geth collective.  Hell, they helped with the Crucible and also started helping out the Quarians and their return to Rannoch!  Did they deserve to be destroyed?  I hated the Geth in ME1, they were the enemy or we were made to believe that, but they’re no longer a threat and I’ve grown fond of them as allies.  But this meant destroying the Reapers once and for all – which was my goal since ME1 – and apparently the only option that’ll allow Shepard a chance to survive?  I thought this ending was rather lame as well, it also went against everything I tried to establish through the trilogy.  I read that the scene of Shepard “reviving” is only achieved if you meet certain criterias, I’m not sure exactly what that is but it seems like I achieved it.  My Shepard grasped a breath of air just before the credits rolled in (you can easily find this video on YouTube).

But maybe this was what Casey Hudson and the development team wanted and intended?  The renegade path has Shepard (and the players) choosing his own survival over that of an entire synthetic race (or anything synthetic for that matter).  But does that mean anyone who had biotic / cybernetic implants like Shepard was succeptable to being destroyed by picking this path?  This had me confused a little as well… which lead me to the last option.

The last option, the “green” path gives us Synthesis, a combination of synthetic life with biotic life using Shepard as a template?  So I re-loaded the save and tested this last ending to see what happened.  You guessed it, Shepard dies again and all Mass Relays are destroyed.  But hey, at least all life are changed into some sort of weird cybernetic beings and the Geth and EDI will survive – that’s good news for Joker I guess.  This option sorta came out of left field - I just don’t find it tying into anything I’ve done within the trilogy.  Also, what gave me the right to say, yup, this is where “humanity” or all life should “evolve” into.  I honestly can’t say this is a “happy median” between the blue and red options, and honestly, it seems like something Saren was after in ME1.  Just look at how that turned out for him – not too pretty.  Anyway, I think I’m gonna call this the Borg option – and watching the ending videos, this was the only option where the soldiers on Earth didn’t raise their guns to “cheer” at the victory.  I don’t think they were too happy with what just happened.  LOL


Then at the end of the credits, we are presented a silhouette of what appears to be a grandfather talking to his grandson, looking up at the same moons in the picture above.  Apparently it’s many many years after the Mass Effect events (forum sources indicate possibly 10,000 years later) – the grandfather goes to say that not all what happened with Shepard was clear and it was pretty much all a legend by then.  The kid then asks when he’ll be able to go to the stars in which the grandfather replies, someday…

To be honest, I especially hated this “stargazer” scene as I found it distanced us away from the events of the Mass Effect trilogy and the characters we’ve grown to love.  It also felt as if the trilogy may have been a story that the grandfather made up to keep his grandson entertained and that it didn’t really happen.  What I also didn’t get was why the child asked his grandfather when he’ll be able to go to the stars – no matter which ending I picked, the Normandy crashes on “this planet”.  Could the surviving crew of the Normandy create a new civilization – that’s possibly a lot of in-breeding!  Also, just because the Mass Relays were destroyed and they faced a “galactic dark age”, it shouldn’t mean they’ve forgotten all about their technology.  Couldn’t they re-build ships to go into space?  You’d think by “10,000″ years later they’d figured a way to go back into space.  Heck, we’re able to go to space now in real life!

At the very end, I was presented with a screen, indicating that Shepard became a legend and that we could continue his legend through further gameplay and DLCs.  There’s a problem with that as far as I can see, with the main issue being that Shepard’s dead – if I hadn’t opt for the “red” option (though that little scene left a lot of speculation and doesn’t prove much either).  So, do I really want to play further and buy the DLC when I already know the ending, particularly if I thought the ending was crap?  What’s the point in playing Shepard and expanding on his legend if we already know how his tale ended?  Playing through more of his “legends” feels futile when he’s just going to die anyway and nothing I do could change that.  It also brings back painful feelings and emotions about the (what I feel is) bad endings – do I want to be reminded of how this epic story ended?  Not really.  BioWare had stated that any DLCs they release will not be aftermaths, so anything that happens in the upcoming DLCs will be before the final battles.  I always like to back things up with credible proof, but I can’t seem to find BioWare’s actual statement on this at the moment.  This makes sense though, as after you finish the game, the save reverts back to Shepard on the Normandy before the mission to assault Cerberus (The Illusive Man’s base).  This also makes me a little disappointed as that means there won’t be a new ending (or very unlikely).

Though I really dislike the current endings, I haven’t been onboard with the whole “change the ending” movement.  Realistically speaking, I doubt that will ever happen due to the cost and logistics of it all.  Hiring the voice actors again, coming up with new animations, designs, etc.  But I think there may be the possibility of extending the ending options – why couldn’t there be an ending where Shepard lives and both Synthetic life and biotic life live in peace together?  My efforts in bringing the Geth and the Quarian people is a shining proof of that possibility!  Also, what of the Rachni?  They came in peace and helped with the building of the Crucible!

The ending was suppose to conclude any questions and plot holes, but I think it created more questions than answers – which is also probably why a lot of fans are angry and feeling hurt.  Just why was the Normandy flying through the Mass Relays at the end?  Weren’t they in Earth’s orbit helping fight the Reapers?  How would they know I was about to blow up all the Mass Relays?

And why did the two squadmates I took to Earth (Garrus and Liara) end up back on the Normandy?  I assumed they died when the Reaper beam shot at us in London as we were running towards the Citadel (as proven in the recently released deleted scene video)?  Also, was everyone on the Citadel already dead when the Reapers brought it to Earth?  Because it blew up too after I made the Synthesis and Destruction choices – that’s a lot of lives needlessly lost!  =(  Perhaps the future DLCs will address these questions – but I wonder how?  BioWare said any future DLC released will focus on events that occur prior to the end of the story – so we’ll never know why the Normandy was flying through the Mass Relays?  How my “dead” friends made it on to the ship?  What about the entire galactic fleet that was in the Sol system fighting the Reapers helping to defend Earth?  What happened to them?  My Shepard brought together the galactic races putting aside their differences to fight a common enemy (which was an inspiring theme) – then they all get stuck in the Sol system because I destroyed the Mass Relays?  How does that make any sense?  So the Quarians will never set foot on Rannoch after I just helped them make peace with the Geth (which welcomed them back to the home planet)?  The Krogans won’t make it home either to help their females re-populate their civilization?

Then again, I can’t seem to find concrete evidence of BioWare’s statement on future DLCs - only that Casey Hudson and Dr. Ray Muzkya mentionining something about the artistic integrity of the story and that the ending won’t be changed.  BioWare has also stated that they are listening to the fans and will address some of the concerns – whether that means answering the question to these weird end scenes or a different ending remains to be seen.

While I understand that this was the end of a story, I’m not sure why Casey Hudson (or whoever else was responsible for the story) decided to destroy all the Mass Relays.  I think they could’ve ended the story and kept the Mass Relays intact – imagine the Stargate franchise ending their season finale by destroying all the Stargates.  That just kills any future possibilities of story continuity, spin-offs, fanfics, community growth, etc. in a canon universe.  I can see why so many people started coming up with ideas of the Indoctrination Theory, in order to help keep this canon universe alive.  It leaves the imagination open for the rest of community who wish to explore what happens in the aftermath.  Destroying all the relays basically tell the fans, “That’s it, it’s over.  There’s nothing else left within this franchise.” which is rather depressing to hear.  And if BioWare is listening to the community and thinking of addressing the ending with DLC, the Indoctrination Theory might be a viable way to go and keep the existing endings canon.  There are so many ideas floating around by the fans on the BioWare forum, it’s pretty easy to pick up from there and deploy this theme and come up with a “true ending” for the fans.  Again, please save Shepard, his love interest, mass relays, Geth and EDI!  LOL

Though I don’t buy in to all those Indoctrination Theory ideas, some of them do appear credible.  People kept saying how the scene where we see Shepard breathe at the end of the Destruction ending is him lying in the rubbles of London, after getting hit by the Reaper beam.  And everything else from there on was in his head, or sub-conscious battle against Reaper Indoctrination; when I played the ending, it seemed like the “ghost child” kept pushing for either Reaper control or Synthesis options.  The entity really didn’t seem to like the option of destroying the Reapers, which might kill Shepard and that the Synthetics might rise up and rebel against biotic life.  That’s a lot of “mights” in that option whereas the entity seemed rather conclusive about pro-Reaper options.

Then again, people claim that Shepard had to be in London as you can see a bookshelf behind him and that there was no bookshelf on the Citadel where Shepard was at (and that he couldn’t survive the explosion in space and re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere).  When I first saw that video, I didn’t think that made sense and that bookshelf people claimed looked like rubble to me.  Now that the Indoctrination Theory has been debunked, it doesn’t really matter.  But for the heck of it, I went back and looked at that final image (and even increased the levels on it) – does it still look like a bookshelf at the back?  It doesn’t to me, it’s just look like rubble that resembles a bookshelf (because we wished it to be)… you know how the saying goes, look at something long enough and it’ll eventually become what you want it to be.

I think one last aspect of the ending that left a sour taste in my mouth was the last couple of battles when I got back to Earth.  I worked hard gathering resources, gathering allies to come save earth.  I really wanted to kick some Reaper ass back on Earth, as portrayed in the “Take Earth Back” trailer.  I thought I was in for some epic ground forces combat against the Reapers with my allies, but that wasn’t so.   I was really expecting multiple skirmishes and strategic battles in various Earth cities, pushing back against the Reapers.  The Galaxy-At-War ratings would’ve been more effective and viable in this case, how many allies I get on the ground would be matched with my readiness rating and available fighting resources.  But I was only presented with a couple of short skirmishes and running to some rockets to blow up a Reaper destroyer.  Then after that it was the charge towards the Citadel – got beamed up and didn’t fight anyone – not even The Illusive Man.  WTH?  =\  I felt cheated as if I was duped by false advertising.  And what about all the notions about my decisions from ME1 and ME2 leading up to ME3 contributing to the outcome of the final act?  It seems and feels like I was only force-fed 3 preset options and nothing I did in the trilogy really mattered.  I cured the Genophage, but it didn’t matter since the Krogan males won’t be going home anyway.  I united the Quarians and Geth, but it didn’t matter either since Geth may be destroyed, plus they can’t go hom either.  I got the Turians to come help Earth by helping their home planet, by the way, did I mention they can’t go home either?  Did I forget to mention all the Mass Relays were destroyed?  =P

And I just have to throw this last bit in here, what’s up with Tali’s face?  We finally see her unmasked and the community finds out BioWare used a stock photo as the base?  I have to say I’m a little disappointed in that – Mass Effect has some beautiful artwork and character designs, why did they have to use a stock photo to create what Tali look like?  I’m sure they could’ve come up with their own concept and design of what Tali really looked like.  I think finding out about the stock photo also killed some of the fantasy and imagination of the Mass Effect universe.  It’s like we’re drawn into this dramatic story and imaginative world only to get slapped in the face with reality.  I didn’t need that in the game.  I can get slapped with reality every 15-20 minutes when the baby starts cring.  LOL

Okay, so up to now, I’ve been saying all the things I didn’t like about ending (and parts of the game), which really accumlates 5-10 minutes of the entire trilogy.  That’s just not fair, is it?  I really do love the story that was given to us and the interactive way it was presented – even if the ending could’ve been better.  I can understand the theme of sacrifice and I always had a feeling Shepard wouldn’t be coming back alive – even for artistic reasons.  But is it really so bad if he COULD survive it all?  Would it destroy the artistic integrity?  I really don’t feel that it would.  After all the difficulties we experience as the player, all the sacrifices and deaths Shepard has seen – does he not deserve a chance to come through in the end, overcoming impossible odds – giving the rest of us hope that miracles can come true?

I think the theme of sacrifice and death to protagonists is a little too played out – Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Battlefield 3, etc. what’s wrong with a little happy ending?  We could definitely use a little happiness in our lives right now, given the waivering global markets, low job rates, wars, terrorism, etc.  Would it be bad to have a little hope and then be presented a miracle?  One of the things I loved about Mass Effect’s story is the way it brought together all the races, putting aside their differences and learning to accept each other and to work together.  That’d be nice in the real world, and wouldn’t be a bad thing to strive for – though I’d hate to see that happening only due to some sort of apocalyptic event.  lol  I really wanted Shepard to come back from the war against the Reapers and get together with Miranda (I picked Miranda as my Love Interest).

The Mass Effect story definitely had an emotional effect on me when I played through the trilogy – the story was beautiful and inspiring.  I remember the end of ME1, where the Alliance fleet jumps in to Citadel space to help the Council (I chose to save them) – the sacrifices made in that battle felt justified – I could feel the sense of relief and hope amongst the Council members as Normandy spearheaded the reinforcement against Sovereign.  That battle was simply epic and morale boosting!  Honestly, I expected something similar for ME3′s ending – especially when I saw the galactic combined fleet jumping in to Earth space.  The battle scene was exceptionally done and I really liked seeing the fighter squadrons in action, that was really reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica and Wing Commander (and even Star Wars).  =P

The characters are memorable, their sacrifices unforgettable, especially in ME3 compared to the previous two.  I loved how Mordin said “Would have liked to have run tests on the seashells.” before knowingly going towards his death – it almost made me cry.  Then there’s Liara’s time capsule scene with Shepard, Thane’s prayer in his last moments, spending time with Garrus at the top of the Presidium, Tali’s beachfront home back on Rannoch, etc.  All amazingly written and well scripted – I really felt the ending did not do any of these amazing moments justice.

I picked Miranda as my character’s love interest in ME2 and carried through to ME3 – honestly, I picked Miranda because of her personality and the things she shared with Shepard.  While she’s normally protrayed as a cold-hearted bitch / Cerberus cheerleader, I really liked seeing her softer side and how she eventually warmed up to Shepard and came to trust him and even worry about his safety.  There was more to her character than just her self-confidence and genetic modifications, you’d just have to look a little more closely beyond the book’s cover.  Though having that “ass effect” didn’t hurt either!  While I picked Ashley as Shepard’s love interest in ME1, when I met Miranda, I just had to replay ME1 without a love interest (didn’t want to cheat on Ash).  Ash’s personality felt a little static compared to Miranda – all Ash really did was cite poetry and complain about the xeno on the Normandy.  =(

With the seriousness aside, I also enjoyed the funny / lighter side of things the Mass Effect team put into the game, particularly in ME3.  Tali and Garrus’ relationship was a fun surprise when I opened that hatch to the main battery.  Seeing Tali drunk and bitch about Miranada was hilarious – though seeing Ash drunk on the “mmm, cold floor” didn’t seem to have the same effect.  The inside jokes on Shepard’s dancing also created some chuckles in me.  But the funniest part I found was in Conrad Verner and how he refers to the bug in ME2 (I can’t believe that wasn’t patched) and how Shepard shoved a gun in his face.  Nice one, BioWare!  It’s a shame all these great and epic moments appear to have been over-shadowed by the ending controversies.

I’ve been playing BioWare games a long time and have really enjoyed with what they’ve done overall.  Dragon Age, Buldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: KoTOR, etc. all really great games.  There are talks of boycotting further DLCs and even BioWare games on various forums and social media – as much as I dislike the ending, I honestly can’t say I’d go that far.  I really do think BioWare come out with great games, and Mass Effect definitely deserved all those perfect scores game review sites have been giving them.

It is also pleasant to see BioWare responding to the community through their forums, blog, Facebook and Twitter.  My hats go off to those in particular handling the social media portion, they’re doing a fantastic job of responding to the masses even though they can’t provide any specific details.  I’m sure they’re tired of hearing people whine and bitch about the ending, but I think so far they’ve been pretty cool about it when it’s easy to get defensive.  I’ve also never seen another game company address the community this much either, asking for feedbacks, reviews, critism, etc.  BioWare has stated they are listening and that they are working on something – I do hope they will address the concerns regarding the ending.  If they do, that’d be pretty epic and I think would say so much about BioWare as a company and their dedication to its players.  That would also put them back in everyone’s graces and probably elevate them as a shining example of a game developer listening to the community, its consumers.  I think it’s safe to say that even if we have to pay for the DLC that address the ending controversy, people would do it.  Some may whine and bitch about that too, but I think the majority of those who dislike the ending will appreciate the fact BioWare has spent the time and resources to come out with what they want and pay for it.

I have played the multiplayer portion of Mass Effect 3 quite a bit, especially when they issued the N7 Challenges.  Can I say that I really hate the Reapers?  The Banshee + Brute combo is devastating, particularly with Ravagers at the rear hitting you with their long range attacks.  There’s no where safe to hide from them!  Banshee is especially hard to kill from my experience, the teleporting, instant grab death, the scream, the energy ball she throws at you, etc.  She has a gap closer, range attack, barrier and armor!  Ouch!  The best way I found is to just keep running away (but then you gotta be careful with the Ravagers shooting you when you move out of cover).  So yeah, I really hated the Reaper Challenge on Silver – I don’t even want to imagine what Gold would be like.  =*(  But I think BioWare should definitely keep up with the multiplayer content, it’s nice to finally have a decent online co-op game.  I’m so sick of death match and capture the flag type multiplayer games.  Here’s hoping for more maps and maybe even mission based content.

As fun as the multiplayer is, it’s not perfect and there are a number of bugs.  The one I hate most is being out of sync, I can’t reload or damage enemies, can’t climb ladders, activate mission objectives or revive my team mates.  This is a serious bug that needs to be addressed, I hate the fact that I’m in the game but can’t help out my team.  This is particularly true if I’m playing in Silver or Gold challenges (though I haven’t dared tackle Gold yet).  Another bug is the online store purchasing, where it loses sync when you try to unlock a Recruit, Veteran or Spectre pack.  If you exit the game and come back, your credits would have disappeared as if you had purchased the item pack already.  I hope this will be addressed in the near future too.  As for the functionality, my only gripe is the “space” key (which I’ve re-mapped to left shift) which acts as run, cover, use.  It’s a little annoying trying to revive a downed teammate during the heat of battle only to take cover instead because they died too close to a wall.  At least let us separate the use and run/cover keys on a PC if that’s possible?

So what will future DLCs have in store for us?  I can’t wait to find out and I’m hoping BioWare will add additional endings to the game – preferably a happier one with Shepard surviving and re-uniting with his love interest, saving Earth and the Mass Relays.  I joked to my friends that with the current endings, there’ll probably be a Mass Effect 4, which will be an MMORPG where players play as one of the trapped galactic race in a fight for the Sol system – cuz they can’t go home anymore.  =P  So that’s it, my take on ME3, the ending of an epic journey.

Did BioWare end it right?  I would say no.  No in the fact that the ending seem rushed and un-related to the things I’ve accomplished (or tried to) within the trilogy.  They also created a bunch of contradictions and unanswered gaps in the story.

But did they do it right, as in create an amazing franchise/universe for the fans.  The epic struggle and scarifices and believable characters that we can relate to?  Hell yes!  Maybe it was their secret intention all along?  To create all this controversy, speculations and chatter?

How else could the ending be completed with the amount of variables from ME1 to ME3?  I think it would’ve been simple to create an ending similar to ME1, depending on the allies (and amount of allies you accumulated through Galaxies-at-War).  Whether Shepard lives or dies, whether he’s able to destroy the Reapers (keeping synthetics alive a the same time) could be all based upon his “major” choices carried over from ME1.  I’ll reiterate the fact that I think Shepard and the Normandy crew definitely deserved a “happy” ending after all the hardships and sacrifices they’ve been through.  I don’t think that would’ve destroyed the artistic integrity nor underlying themes of personal sacrifice.  While I say it’s simple to create the ending, I was merely referring to the concept of making the “happy ending” a viable option, as for the logistics of programming and creating that content is another story.  =P

Would I recommend ME3 (or the entire trilogy) to others?  Absolutely!  It’s still one of the best damn games created, ever!  The journey from ME1 to ME3 was worth the time spent, getting to know the characters and Normandy crew, going along their quest to save the galaxy enduring the hardships and sacrifices was tear-jerking at times.  No matter how much people bitch and whine about the last 5-10 minutes of the ending is miniscual compared to the whole series.  People can’t get held up on the ending controversies and forget the adventure that brought them here.  But would I recommend re-playing the trilogy?  Probably not, especially knowing how depressing it all ends.  Not that I wouldn’t want to re-live the journey, but moreso I don’t have the time in life to spend on re-living this story only to be depressed and disappointed at the end.  LOL  I know this sounds contradictory, but that’s just how I feel right now.

If anyone from BioWare is reading this, feel free to leave a comment, I would love to hear some of your thoughts - hope I’ve laid out both positive and negative experiences fairly.  For now, I’m going to continue playing the multiplayer portion and wait for Kotobukiya’s Liara figure.  I was initially going to wait for Liara’s figure review to talk about the Mass Effect ending, but I didn’t want to delay this post.  Wish they would make a Miranda figure though!  ^_^’

Thanks BioWare for making such an epic game!  Hope to see more in the future – but just remember, happy endings aren’t overrated!  At least give the players that option…  =)