So you've sank your life and possibly hundreds of hours of play time into the Mass Effect saga, only to stare at the end of ME3 mouthing the words "What. The. Fuck." as the entire universe is blown back into the dark ages regardless of just how well or badly you played the game.
Oh yeah, spoiler alert.
Now the internet is alive with fan vitriol at just how badly the ending was executed, reminding this reviewer of the scorn and ridicule that met the ending of the original Evangelion serial. By the way, if anybody can actually tell you what they think the plot was in that series, they're lying their ass off. Anyway, back to ME3, people are apparently pissed and are banding together to let Bioware know just how pissed they are, but I have to tell you your rage is misplaced. Most people seem to be upset that no matter what they did, you still got the same overarching theme with only minor details changing through it.
Frankly, Bioware failed on two levels here. First, when people play this sort of game, they want to make a difference. They want to be that line in the sand and dammit, you shall not pass. People play these sort of role playing games because they want their actions to matter. Take Halo for example. The Master Chief was that line in the sand. He was that only thing throughout the Halo series that kept the barbarians from the gates time and time again, and gamers ate it up. In Mass Effect, the opposite is true. No matter what you did, it's lights out for the universe. The only possible difference you could make in your gameplay was locally and just how badly you fucked up. Everything else was beyond your heroes' control whether you liked it or not.
Let's take a second here and pause because believe it or not, I actually didn't mind the ending too much. I say ending in singular because they're all merely variations on the same theme. If taken in and of itself, it was suitable epic for my tastes and Shepard did save the universe, if not in the way fans were hoping. Still, if you're going to give somebody a choose your own adventure ending, you had better do it right. Bioware didn't and that leads me to their second, bigger failure.
From the moment you were beamed up to the Crucible, the ending was a trainwreck of suck and fail from a technical standpoint. Somehow Shepard is only able to summon the willpower to shoot the Illusive Man after he offs the other guy. That's not so bad, but even in success, he still fails in his mission; unable to activate the final sequence as he lies bleeding on the floor. Thankfully, the Crucible AI helpfully brings him up to the command deck in order to be defeated.
What? You mean you didn't know there's an almighty intelligence guiding the war against all life in the universe and after three games you're just learning about it in the last ten minutes? That's plot gold right there.
Where was I? Oh yeah. This here-to-unknown AI conviently levitates Shepard to the only place in the ship where it can be defeated and proceeds to convientenly explain why it has been killing off the universe for countless millenia, but now it won't work because Shepard has proven the plan for naught by actually being there to defeat it. If you're a creative author at any level, this is the part where you start pulling your hair out because the man was bleeding out on the lower level. Instead of leaving him there, the AI brings Shepard up to recite his 'why I became an evil genius' story and present the man with the keys to his defeat.
If only all of humanities' mortal enemies were so helpful.
For some reason completely lacking of forshadowing and background plot, the AI has been changed by the Crucible and two overly amiguious "options" are put forth to our hero in order to resolve the endless circle of death and rebirth between synthetics and organic life forms. The various endings from here don't really matter since apparently this AI of universal power can only think of two and both represent either its destruction and and/or its loss of freedom at Shepard's hands. It comes across as a crowbar forcfully wedged into an already flimsy plot in order to present the player with a choice-- A choice that reeks of contrivance and laziness on the part of the developers.
Realistically, the story fell apart the moment he was levitated onto the command deck, but why did this suddenly and spontaneously appearing AI save Shepard in the first place? If he would have just left the guy to bleed to death, he wouldn't have needed the final two options in the first place. The AI would have won, thus validating his logic in scouring the universe of all suffieciently evolved organic life. Instead, he lifts Shepard up and invalidates three full games of Mass Effect plot and presents Shepard with choices he can't and won't make for himself, choices that doom the AI regardless. Why even these two choices? There was no other option availible to the AI but death or slavery? Really? And why couldn't it make the choice itself again?
In other words what we have here is a screwed up pyramid of non-stop plot failure from beginning to end that leaves the gamer a gibbering mass of WTF, and not in a good way. Leaving some wondering mystery in the plot can be a good thing as the reader (or viewer in this case) is allowed to use his or her imagination as to why something took place the way it did. That's not the case here. Critical details are missing. Plot points glossed over. Story made up on the spot without regard to continuity.
Fans of the series have every right to be upset. The ending of their series is mired into sloth and fail. In fact, I would go so far as to say that whoever signed off on the final ending at Bioware ought to be fired; Not for the content because you can't please everybody all the time. They should get the axe for allowing this quality control disaster to take place to begin with and Bioware deserves every flame getting sent their way for it.