**THIS POST CONTAINS MASS EFFECT 3 SPOLERS**
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
I beat Mass Effect 3 a few days ago. It took me 48 hours to come to terms with the last ten minutes of the series. I questioned the weight of a ten minute cutscene on a 100+ hour story. I went through everything I could find on the internet about the ending, the way other people were thinking about it, the possible changes from BioWare and what other endings that could have existed if I'd played the game differently. If you're thinking of doing something similar, let me help; 5000+ military strength, destroy all synthetics. You get a half-second breath from what looks like Shepard's body. EDI has to die, the Geth have to die, and the Mass Effect Relays all need to be destroyed. The galaxy is no more saved, though. More on that shortly.
I'm not angry. I'm not sad. I won't lie, I wanted to beat the odds, get all the free drinks I'd been promised from all the people I'd helped and make blue babies with Liara and die old and surrounded by loved ones in my bed, with statues of me on every civilized world for thousands of years. Then I want to play the inevitable Mass Effect MMO and see those statues everywhere, matching the Shepard model I'd created pulled from my saves. I can never have that, though. The feeling I was left with after seeing what was actually offered was just... unfulfilled.
I fully understand the anger, manifested in typical internet fashion as lashing out at BioWare, the denial, as seen as the "Shepard Indoctrination" Theory, the bargaining via Child's Play and the acceptance where people champion the ending as "brave" or "edgy". I need to correct myself. I was a little sad. Not sad at the ending, in the sense that I was mourning Shepard. I was sad that after all the brilliant storytelling that managed to make an amazing narrative that was consistent between all three games and a dense, believable galaxy culminated in a tacked-on conversation with a robot kid that was supposed to represent some deep connection to Shepard's feelings of loss in the war against the reapers, when every game had at least one significant loss experienced by every player that had been through all three games and a Red/Green/Blue ending that essentially comes around to the same thing:
The galaxy was not saved.
Players of the series were out to save the galaxy. That is the main goal throughout every second of gameplay through all three games. Save the galaxy. Save the inhabitants of the galaxy, their government, their society. From the Citadel and the incredible cooperation between varied species at the seat of power for the galaxy to the fringe colonists dependent on the infrastructure of Relays delivering the supplies that keep them alive. Save the ability to explore the amazing universe created in the series. People will be lost, absolutely. Whole planets will fall. Maybe entire species will be destroyed. They can be mourned, but the galaxy must continue on. The remaining inhabitants of the galaxies must be allowed to rebuild in the wake of the Great Reaper War, that started on Earth and was fought in every corner of the galaxy. Instead every choice available at the end of the game kill Shepard and destroy all the Mass Effect relays in the galaxy. Those who survive on the fringe colonies are cut off from their home worlds. Those who survive on the main worlds are stuck there. The galaxy cannot be explored further as of the end of the game. For every jump forward made since the discovery of the first Relay, the war with the reapers ends with an equal and opposite jump backward. Individual worlds may be saved from destruction, but the galaxy as it was is destroyed.
I feel like I could go on about this for a lot longer. I won't though. Anyone that is reading this after reading the spoiler warning has likely played the series to completion. At first I thought I could get past it. Accept the ending as it is, and play the series again and again and gloss over the ending and its shortcomings. Now, though, I hope BioWare makes good on their statement that they "are listening", and gives me an ending that, maybe doesn't have to just be rainbows and flowers (though I'd like that), but needs to give me the option to save the galaxy. I mean isn't that what the whole thing was about?
This has been rambling and meandering. I'm sorry for that. It's late and I've seen how the galaxy ends.