ME3 EXTENDED CUT SPOILERS BELOW.
Short version: I'm happy.
Long version: I'm happy, most of all because it restored a sense of hope and optimism to the game and to the Mass Effect universe, where before there was only desolation and despair. Now, you can know that you WON.
The EC is not perfect. But upon playing it I find that the restoration of hope simply matters more than encyclopedic accuracy. I will say that by not thinking of Indoctrination Theory in the first place and using it to begin with (and following it to a full conclusion), BioWare missed an incredible opportunity to create one the greatest endings in video game history, delivering the players one hell of a mindf**k with a twist-on-a-twist final act. That would have rocked, seriously. But they didn't. Nevertheless, they did succeed in redeeming the series for me.
I looked back at my Journal entry on the original ending, and to be consistent I want to address what I said at the time was wrong, and what they did (and didn't) do to fix it. I would say they answered #2, #3, #4 fairly well, and to a certain extent #1.
1) "The ending is antithetical to everything the Mass Effect trilogy stood for."
Simply allowing us to "win" goes a long way towards changing this. Also giving us the 4th choice (more on that later). The Epilogue screens showed us what happened to our friends and the other species, which varied based on our choices. That being said, our choices certainly could have mattered more. Also, so long as God-Kid/Star-Child/AI-Thingy is in the game, there is going to be a disconnect with some of the history and lore of the ME universe. Though his explanations are better, they still should have thrown him out the game airlock
2) "The railroading of Shepard into making one of the three choices goes against everything that Shepard represents."
As we know, there is now a 4th choice, "Refusal." Of course if you make this choice, you lose
but thanks to Liara's capsule, a later cycle wins. I know a lot of people are upset with the consequences of this choice, believing that Bioware is thumbing their nose at players who were unhappy with the three choices. But I don't feel that way, for two reasons:
It has been clear from the beginning, and stated over and over again in ME3, that we could not win against the Reapers by conventional means. Even with the entire galaxy united against them, it is unlikely we could prevail. So while it is unfortunate that the Crucible turns out to be what it is, given that, it is not surprising that choosing not to use it results in failure.
Also, the speech that Shepard gives on choosing this option (unless you opt to shoot God-Kid, which has its own value) is simply magnificent. "I fight for freedom. Mine, and everyone's. I fight for the right to choose our own fate. And if I die, I'll die knowing that I did everything I could to stop you. And I'll die free." Plus, the deep, booming voice "So be it" was just awesome, scared the hell out of me
3) "No choice is a victory."
I mostly addressed this in the intro. This is no longer true, by far. Each of the three main choices is shown as a victory in its own way. Better. So very, very much better.
4) "[How did your crewmates escape Harbinger's beam of death, get on the Normandy, etc.?]"
First, what they added was totally ret-conning, not simply "clarifying." Second, it is a paper-thin explanation, I know. Third, it was absolutely beautifully and wonderfully executed
. Really, really well done, BioWare.
I didn't call it out before, but the "why is Joker running?" complaint fits here. I know some people are unsatisfied with "Hackett ordered him to leave." But I was going through my Fraps of the end, and the Normandy is actually flying around the Citadel-Crucible connection point when you make your "choice". I interpret that to mean they were planning on rescuing Shepard if they could. Then it starts exploding and the wave blasts out of it
I can understand them thinking they had to run or be destroyed. That's why the wave is on the Normandy's tail as they run because the Normandy was right at its point of origin when it began. The thought that they were going to try to rescue Shepard makes me quite happy.
So there. Not perfect, but I'm happy. What does the EC mean for the direction of "If It Meant Living"? Well, I know
but I'm not telling