Spoilers of course.
First, I'm lukewarm on the ending. I can see arguments for the pros and cons. I can understand the DLC rage over Javik, especially after the Thessia mission. But that's not what this thread is about. I've played ME1 and ME2 multiple times and have had crazy geek discussions about the clues with my friend over the years. We all know that the ME franchise has been inspired by countless films and this got me thinking about the unicorn in the final cut of Blade Runner. The ongoing argument of whether Deckard was a replicant or not was difficult to figure out for sure, until the final cut linked the memory of the unicorn to the paper unicorn left behind by Edward James Olmos. Some people get it and like the idea that Deckard was a replicant and finding all the clues. Others get it, but think the unicorn is stupid. And then there is another portion of the audience that just does not get it, and thinks the whole thing is stupid. That's all fine. The real beauty is that it inspires us to discuss it.
I think a similar thing is happening with the Mass Effect ending. We seem to have 3 different opinions going on. First, if you're a big crazy fan, read the fiction, the comics and played all the games several times, to those people it is pretty clear that Shep was indoctrinated at the end and none of the stuff after the "charge" took place. That's fine. Then there is a second batch of players who have played all the games, are big fans, and they get the indoctrination ending, but to them it is forced and doesn't work. And that's fine too. And then there is another crowd of folks who don't buy the indoctrination ending at all and just think the ending is dumb. It's another valid opinion. Casey Hudson basically said he wanted the audience to think and discuss the ending. And boy did he get what he wanted, good , bad or whatever. There are clearly a lot of people who love the franchise and it's the discussion and opposing view points that make it special. There is one thing I find odd. ME3 is certainly not the only game with an ambiguous ending. Shadow of the Colossus has essays written on the ending and different theories. And that community shares the different ideas and are cool about it, sort of like, oh I never thought of it like that.
Instead of bringing about interesting theories and debates, the ME3 ending seems to have produced an extreme amount of negative rage and nastiness among the community directed at each other and the developers. I wonder if the From Ashes DLC had been free across the board like Zaeed had been in ME2, if there would still be such vitriol taking place instead of a fan base having a friendly debate about theories. I'm not sticking up for anyone. I'm not getting paid from Bioware. I didn't love the ending. It took me a month to finish the game and while I avoided ending spoilers I knew of the discontent. While the ending is a bit convoluted, it certainly wasn't any where near as bad as I was lead to believe. I see what they did. Probably could've been a tad more concise, but I appreciate that they wanted to get the community talking and tried to do something, let's say, unusual as compared to most games. It had flaws, wish they put the multiplay portion of the budget in to the single player, but I had a great time playing this game overall. As usual, Jeff's score was right on.
Having gotten that out of the way, when I finished the game and got the "good?" ending, where Shep is still in London and gasps for breath, the first thing I thought was, the last fifteen minutes was an indoctrinated dreamlike mind screw, but Shep fought it, and survived the "charge" and there's gonna be an ME4 or DLC taking place soon after as they try to take out Harbinger. B/c there are always sequels. Always. Sure that has holes, like, if Harbinger knew Shep was still alive after the "charge" why continue to indoctrinate him, why not just kill him in the rubble. But there is answer to that after the credits.??
Then the credits rolled and then the final, final scene played about "The Shepard" as in tell me another story about, who now? What? "The" Shepard? Then we get the text that says Shepard has become a legend. And the kid was using language that I immediately thought was like calling him the savior. Reminded me of The Matrix. And I was like, oh shit, maybe there isn't gonna be a sequel? Shepard's gonna get up and start using slow mo kung fu grip shit on Harbinger. Shepard can't be killed b/c he is the chosen one, the savior, "The Shepard".
Then my wife told me enough already. I'd been playing for hours. And she was right.