I didn’t have time to play through the game ending three times to sit through the extra 10 minutes of cutscenes that comprise the Extended Cut, so I watched Mass Effect 3‘s new endings on Youtube. While an improvement on the game as shipped, only one of the endings is truly satisfying.
[SPOILERS … duh!]
The new cutscenes mean that where Synthesis seemed like the least worst choice, now it actually seems like a good idea. It vindicates my refusal to commit genocide against the Geth/AIs, which is brushed aside in the Destroy ending (though someone helpfully pointed out that if Shepard survives the destruction then maybe the Geth/AIs do too). It also seems that you no longer need 5000 EMS points to survive the Destroy ending, although you still do not survive Synthesis. Like Fallout 3 pre Broken Steel, or Dragon Age, I don’t mind too much that I had to heroically sacrifice myself because it’s still a classic story ending – the only one of the bunch. Everyone’s at peace, civilisation rebuilds, happily ever after (apart from the weird glowing skin). The Control ending is quite nicely handled because it’s suitably creepy without being too mwah-ha-ha about it: Reaper Shepard still demonstrates good intentions even while sounding like a lunatic Middle East dictator.
I still think, given the controversy, Bioware should have gone all out and made a Broken Steel-style expansion. Bethesda’s revised ending to Fallout 3 (which is a paid download unlike Bioware’s freebie) doesn’t just tack on a cutscene but manages to preserve the original choice/ending and extend it in a way that radically alters the game. You get about 10 extra hours gameplay and a much more satisfying conclusion to a game that didn’t even end that badly to start with. That is what Bioware should have done. We’ve waited this long; we could have waited longer.
Oh well, what’s done is done, and at least they fixed what was essentially a botched ending for free.
These two articles sum it up pretty well: