MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS
I just finished Mass Effect 3 yesterday. I tried to stay away from all forums/articles/discussions/blog posts/etc about the game because I wanted to avoid and and all spoilers. I believe in making decisions in these games on your own, and dealing with whatever the consequences may be, and if I start looking at what other people do I'll try to only do what is "best" given the game mechanics, not what I feel is the most appropriate option. That being said, I did gather that people were unhappy with the ending... I just figured that they didn't do enough side quests and didn't gather enough war assets, like in ME:2 if you didn't have all your upgrades/most of your team loyal /send the wrong person for the wrong job you could lose people.
Well, not only is it borderline impossible to get the "best" ending without unlocking the multi-player bonuses, all the possible endings are practically exactly the same. I specifically chose an ending because I didn't want the mass relays destroyed-- and guess what? They all get destroyed no matter what you do. So I don't even know why the Starchild at the end tells you specifically how one of the choices leads to mass relay destruction, when they all do. ALSO, HOW IS EVERYONE IN THE GALAXY NOT DEAD FROM THAT? I mean, in Arrival destroying one relay took out the entire system it was in, wouldn't taking out all of them destroy all the systems? There were way too many things in the ending that didn't make sense. I was really hoping for a Fallout style ending, where there's a montage of outcomes based on all the specific decisions you made. Instead, there's pretty much one ending-- no matter if you were paragon, renegade, saved the Geth, destroyed the collector ship, etc. I think that's why most people were so upset, because there was no closure for any of the things that you had done.
The end fight was also disappointing-- I was really hoping that your war assets mattered, that you had to figure out where to deploy your troops. I at least wanted to see a cut scene with everyone fighting together-- Geth primes next to the Shadow broker wet squad, Asari commandos using their biotics alongside the last 5 Batarians in the galaxy-- okay, what I really meant by that was that I wanted to see some Elcor with turrets or whatever strapped on their backs. AMAZING.
Instead you have the same fight with cannibals, marauders, brutes and banshees that you've had the entire game. I kept trying to save my medi-gel for the "real fight" but it just never came. And when Harbinger shows up he doesn't even say anything-- And nothing could shut up his obnoxious filthy condescending reaper mouth last time.
That being said, the previous 25+ hours of this game before the ending was absolutely awesome! There were so many well done who's-cutting-the-onions moments: I almost cried near the end when my character closes her eyes and begins to die next to Anderson when Hackett calls in and she just responds with, "What do you need me to do?" What a true soldier. The game could have ended right there and it-- well, it wouldn't have been amazing, but it would have been better than what they did. I also completely lost it when Mordin states, as he's about to go up the elevator to cure the genophage, "Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong...Would have liked to run tests on the seashells," or when Legion asked Tali, "Does this unit have a soul?" right before he dies and she responds with yes. I also really enjoyed the geth quest where you view the beginning of the Quarian-Geth conflict from the geths' perspective... After that there was no way that I couldn't side with the geth (although luckily for me, my persuasion was high enough that I didn't have to pick sides) and it was really nice to have a non-combat quest for a change.
Ignoring the last 10 minutes or so, I feel like I just finished an amazing novel. I feel like the depth of this world and the characters in it are seriously on par with any of my favourite works of literature, and I've been thinking about it non-stop since I finished it. I would be very happy to replay any or all of these games in the future.