The original ending to Mass Effect 3 was pretty bad, to put it bluntly. The trilogy emphasized player choice, bringing disparate peoples together as one for a greater good, and the bonds of friendship--until the final 30 minutes of the third game.
Suddenly, we're thrown into a Deus Ex Machina situation and introduced to a critical character at the last minute. This Star Child gives us three options--Control the Reapers, Destroy all synthetic life, or fuse all synthetics and organic life together into some bizarre space-magic hybrid.
Not that these were actual choices. The end scenes were nearly identical, save for the color of the explosion at the end.
More infuriating were the strange plot holes. How did Garrus go from lying on the ground, comatose or dead, near the conduit, to fleeing in the Normandy? Why was the Normandy fleeing to begin with? How was anyone to survive when you had several alien races stranded in a devastated Sol system and broken mass relays?
Some fans were understandably quite upset. Not only was it a bad ending; it was jarring, inconclusive, and full of plot holes. It was a sour note to end the story of Commander Shepard on, and we deserved better.
Bioware heard our complaints and answered with the Extended Cut DLC.
I can't stress this enough, so I'll put this in bold:
I am so grateful they took the time and effort to respond to their fans. I'm happy they gave us the Extended Cut DLC, even though they could have easily just walked away.
The ME3EC closes some of the worst plot holes. Shepard, concerned for the well-being of his friends, calls in Joker to take them to safety before he makes his final approach. This time, Joker stays until it's clear they can't wait any longer--despite a withdraw order having been given several minutes before. This time, the mass relays are merely damaged, and can be repaired.
Of course, we still have a literal ending machine and the Star Child still spouts this bizarre string of unlogic:
You still have the same 3 choices--Control, Destroy, or Synthesis--with the same outcomes, more or less. But this time, they go to the trouble of showing you the fate of the galaxy after your choice. In any of these outcomes, there is good and bad. In every choice, there is a future for the galaxy Shepard worked so hard to protect.
The dialogue options elucidate the background and consequences of your choices far better than before, even if the Star Child is still pants-on-head insane.
I haven't mentioned there's actually now a fourth option--Refusal. You can refuse to play the Star Child's game, and "die free". This results in an abrupt ending where everyone dies, and it cuts to Liara's hologram explaining nothing they could do could stop the Reapers.
This ending can be viewed as an admonishment and warning to those who complained about the ending. You can stamp your feet and wail all you'd like, but you're powerless to effect change without the beneficence of a greater power. In other words, they've indulged our little tantrum but this is all we get. If we push harder, then we'll meet the same fate as the rebellious Shepard. Well, okay, Bioware's not going to send hitmen (hit reapers?) to our homes, but they'll certainly ignore any further pleas.
As well they should. They went above and beyond to answer our complaints, and to ask for more would be greedy and entitled. Yes, I used the e word. This isn't a perfect ending--it's built on the same flawed framework the former ending was built on. I encourage everyone to discuss, praise, or criticize it--I'm sure it deserves all three in some measure.
It's not perfect, but it transformed the end into something I can be satisfied with, something that grants closure. This time, I'm happy to say my Shepard chose to Control the Reapers; because he believed every race and every person had a right to exist, had a right to think, had a right to grow. Even the Reapers.