Despite the fact that they didn’t take my suggestion to run with the indoctrination theory (it’s okay guys, I understand), I think that the ME3 Extended Cut DLC ending is basically the best thing they could have made while still touching on all the same points that the original ending laid down.
Before we get into anything serious, I want to say this: there will be spoilers. If you want your brains to remain pure, turn back! Seriously, how are you even on the Internet right now?
The Extended cut answers a lot of questions the community brought up after the initial Mass Effect 3 launch back in March. It shows in greater detail how Anderson got to the arm controls before you, how Hackett knew Shepard was on the Citadel; and through dialogue options, the game offers more insight on each choice before you pick it. But the real meat of the Extended Cut is the protracted ending. Each of the three main choices has a narrator explaining what happened after the end of the reaper war. In all three main outcomes, Shepard’s name is dramatically added to the memorial display on the crew deck of the Normandy. It shares a central place with Admiral Anderson, and the crew stand around sentimentally as the love interest sticky-tacks a plate that says “COMMANDER SHEPARD” onto the memorial display. I got a kick out of imagining them all sitting around trying to figure out why no one knew Shepard’s first or middle name. Vega probably tried to convince everybody to put “Lola,” but I bet Garrus gave him a shitty look.
Even with the memorial scene dramatics, the Destroy ending still has the little shot at the end of the cut scene with the N7 armored soldier coming back to life in the rubble, and I’ve heard that if your EMS is high enough, the love interest won’t place the plaque and instead the player sees the Normandy flying away.
Although in the synthesis ending, EDI totally guilt-trips anybody who destroyed her in order to save Shepard in their previous playthroughs by dramatically exclaiming “Because of [Shepard], I am alive, and I am not alone.” But then after that, she hugs the love interest, and not Jeff. I guess synthetic/human hybridization can put a strain on a relationship.
If you don’t like the three main options, the DLC introduces a fourth choice, which is basically just telling the sky-child to eat a dick because Commander Shepard does what she wants! lt also has a cut scene, although it’s shorter. I like it because the Stargazer and child at the end are obviously not human, and they talk about “the archives.” The alien Stargazer also says that she’s “only told [the child] a few of the stories” teasing more Shepard stores even harder than the success ending Stargazer does.
I wish that the DLC had somehow allowed you to load the game at the real beginning of the extended cut. Because I just started the citadel mission over again, I didn’t know until I was doing research for this review that I missed the extraction scene, which occurs on the beam approach. I’m not sure what happens if you don’t have a love interest in your approach party, but if you do, there’s a chance for a tearful goodbye and a little bit more closure than there was before. Also, an explanation (however far fetched) for why the whole crew is on the Normandy at the end. I think it’s a little hilarious that Joker is leading an assault on the reapers when all of a sudden, he’s like “BRB, guys, gotta go pick up my Commander’s boyfriend. He’s got a boo boo on his mandible.”
Overall, I think that this is a great showing from Bioware. I wasn’t one of the people that rage-quit on the first time around, so I have no insight into how they might be feeling, but as a genuine Mass Effect fan, and a general BioWare fan, I feel like they made good on their promise to flesh out the ending, and I appreciate the fanservice.