I never saw the original ending to Mass Effect 3 as some kind of "OH MY GOD THIS IS FUCKING AWFUL" sort of moment. I didn't like it. Most people don't. I would list out as to why, but that laundry list has already been discussed ad nauseam. It was too vague, didn't account for prior decisions and generally contained too much hokey "faith" overtones. Needless to say, they could have done better. BioWare released the new Extended Cut to appease fan vitriol but, in my humble opinion anyway, it is a case of being late to the party.
Overall, I think Mass Effect 3 is a bit of a let-down. It is still a good game but it misses the bar set by Mass Effect 2 (I am a ME2>ME1 guy, by the way). It seemed as if the game was going to be a mix of the original's high points and the progress made in the subsequent sequel. Personally, it went in directions I didn't enjoy. It nailed that Mass Effect feel in some regards -- conversations with the crew, good character development, boning, WREX -- but ultimately I think it's direction is flawed from the get-go. To me, Mass Effect excels either when it's super0shiny space warfare (Star Trek) or went it gets down and dirty in the shadier side of the galaxy (that darker Empire Strikes Back sort-of feel). When the game goes into all-out warfare, I think it loosed the plot somewhat. The ending sequence in the original may have been full scale combat but I believe it to be a much better mission than ME3's finale. Personally, when Mass Effect goes for a small scale feel, I believe that to be when it's at it's greatest.
Back to the Extended Cut, I knew going in that the changes I wanted weren't going to be factored it. In the ideal world, the original ending would have been discarded altogether. Of course, there was no way that was going to happen with limited resources and such. (It would also look pretty poor for BioWare to jettison their entire ending) The core of the ending, in my mind, just isn't great. The child catalyst? The three lights? Nah, I'm good. So even when taking in that the ending would only be extended (as subtly hinted at by the title) I knew it wouldn't matter.
Look, I really like Mass Effect but at this point I have moved on. The game is over three months old now and with the ending leaving a bad taste in so many peoples' mouths, I would have taken an incredible overhaul that isn't feasible. The ending is now slightly clearer, of course, but I couldn't help thinking during the cut-scenes, I just don't care anymore. What's done is done. The franchise has taken a strong bump in my opinion. Any murmurs of a fourth Mass Effect would have me giddy a number of months ago but now, that excitement has dimmed somewhat. Details of new DLC is even floating around the blogs today. Why? Why is there DLC? The series is done. In other games, sure, it's a bit weird to play extra missions when the conflict is over but when your main character effin' dies, it is a very strange prospect. What else is there left to achieve, story-wise?
In the end, the little changes to the ending appear to be superfluous at this point. The game ended, it annoyed a lot of people (of course, the internet over-reacted) and now with a left with a underwhelming ending to a great trilogy. In a couple years time, I'm pretty sure Mass Effect can re-kindle a lot of love. Hopefully the next steps for the franchise are forward progress.