Look we have all been there, you invested your time and imagination into a story that captured your imagination, only to be ultimately disappointed by the ending. However stories like life don't always give us the ending that we want. The story is ultimately about the author's message, one that he or she is trying to convey to his readers. Good or bad ending aside, every story is ultimately attempting to make the reader think.
Perhaps the problem with the modern gamer is that we are too spoiled by large Hollywood movies that rarely ask you think. In fact most blockbusters ask you to check your brain at the door. I think when I went to go see the last Transformers movie the usher actually wanted me to leave my brain in the lobby, along with my cellular phone. The problem is that we as fans have become used to entertainment that doesn't ask us to think, that doesn't challenge our notions of good and bad, right or wrong (Yes Call of Duty Fans I am talking to you). We turn on our televisions, game systems, or go to the movies and consume countless amounts of mental junk food, and then call that entertainment.
The problem with Mass Effect, is it had all the trappings of a great science fiction movie, and maybe in the end the fans wanted a mindless victory. Shepard kicks Reapers ass, and all is well. While that might make a great piece of popcorn entertainment that is never what Mass Effect was about.
Science Fiction, good Science Fiction has always been an allegory. The allegory in Mass Effect is clear, it is Man vs. Fate.
Mass Effect like so many Greek Tragedies that have proceeded it is about Man vs. Fate. Honestly I think everyone is reading way too much into the game. This game has been in development for years, and I am going to make the assumption that the writers never pulled the endings out of their asses no matter how much the fans want this to be the case. Like all stories, there was a clear beginning, middle, and end.
To me the series was and always has been a Space Opera, a Greek tragedy. Man vs. Fate or (Sentient Life Vs. Fate in this case). The reapers represent fate, Shepard is the agent of change, and the catalyst was the key to changing fate.
If you look at it in terms of a real story with symbolism and meaning, then it becomes clear. The ending that's the hardest to get, Synthesis, is the only true ending because it is the only one that changes fate. Control or Destruction do not break the cycle. Synthesis does, it breaks the cycle it becomes the means of changing Fate. If you get the best ending, everything changes for the good or bad. In the case of my game the genophage was cured, the Geth and the Quarians made peace, the Turians and Krogans formed an Alliance, the Asari homeworld was devastated, the Rahkni were welcomed into the Alliance, Joker and EDI feel in love. I could go on, but whether you played the game for good or bad there were significant changes to breaking the Galactic Order. No matter what ending you choose the results would be the same, the cycle is broken and Fate has been changed. Hence the little boy in the bonus cut scene calls him THE Shepard not Shepard. He gathered the Galaxy and led them to a new Fate.
So maybe everyone completely overlooked that there was more than mindless action going on here, there was a story attached. There was a narrative, the author was attempting to convey.
Maybe I didn't like the end to Casablanca, Sophie's Choice, A Clockwork Orange, or Saving Private Ryan, but that doesn't mean I should tell the authors, "Hey man you guys suck because I didn't like how your story ended. In fact let me tell you how it could have been so much better."
Now if we are talking Star Wars episode 1 through 3 I am not going to argue with you.
Mass Effect is a classic, a tragedy of Epic proportions. Would any reasonable person find Homer in this world or the next and realistically argue with him that his stories sucked and I have an online petition to back this up?