Mass Effect 3’s ending was bad for just one reason, and the Extended Cut doesn’t even seem to know it exists.
It isn’t bad because it lacked closure, no matter what Casey Hudson says. Closure would have been nice, but that’s not the ‘problem’ about ME3’s original ending, as well as the “new” one. As far as closure goes, the Extended Cut added what I already assumed happened, like the Mass Relays being repaired.
Now that BioWare has been given a second chance to fill in some gaps the original feels even more incomplete, as if they accidentally left out the cinematics that were eventually shown in the Extended Cut. It’s not about closure, it’s about explanation. I have dozens of questions involving virtually every single moment of the ending and the Extended Cut kinda answers about three, all of which are in the Control choice (My personal favourite now), while just randomly changing others, like the Normandy crew going to a jungle place just to smile at a sunset and then fly away for no reason
Showing the fleet escape from the Citadel’s ‘explosion’ does help a bit, even though they shouldn’t really know what’s going on, but no amount of cinematics, dialogue or even game play could fix the main problem the ending Mass Effect 3 already had…and here it is:
Every branching decision you made throughout the series suddenly crashes together into one spot before spreading off into THREE incredibly unrelated conclusions, excluding a fourth which I found surprisingly engaging. The problem isn’t that there are only three possible endings, it’s that your previous choices have no bearing on what those possible endings are. I could tolerate three conclusions as long as my journey brought me to my own personal ending, not just being allowed to choose a cinematic I could watch on YouTube later.
As a demonstration, let’s say that the numbers between 1 and 20 represent the possible decisions Shepard (you) could have made in the Mass Effect series, and adding specific ones together results in your particular conclusion.
7 + 9 = 16
14 + 6 – 10 + 5 + 1 = 16.
Sure, we’ve come to the same conclusion, but it was because of completely different numbers. As far as Mass Effect is concerned, it’s about how we get to the conclusions.
There is no reason why the original ending couldn’t have been exactly like the Extended Cut, if not better, and I honestly would have preferred the Indoctrination Theory being correct. At least then BioWare could have milked another game out of the franchise and get more money.
Overall, the Extended Cut just feels like a hasty reassurance directed at panicking fans, especially the Destroy ending where Hackett is essentially going “It’s okay! Everything’s fine!”. I’m glad they didn’t just change everything as an apology, but the Extended Cut feels so ‘shoddy’ that it may as well have never been made.
The images of Krogans, Mass Relays and people on a balcony are uncomfortably inappropriate for something as ‘science-fictiony’ as Mass Effect, and the cinematics themselves look much less detailed than usual. Just like the game, the Extended Cut needed more time before getting released.
Also, the Synthesis ending is still pointlessly arbitrary, and the green eyes look freaking stupid.