After it ended I went and had a look to find out what happened differently before the extension was added, and I think I would have preferred that.
I actually would have preferred the game finished just as the energy from the Crucible caught up with the Normandy - in fact, I reckon the best place to end it would have been at the spot that leaves you wondering if the Normandy outran it, so you could never be sure whether your squad were affected by whatever decision you made.
I chose synthesis, because transhumanism is an interest of mine and because my Shepard was so bloody virtuous she made me a bit ill sometimes, and that was the way with the most peaceful future. And everything that happened after the energy wave was just Disney-type mush in my opinion. Krogan babies and folks holding hands and reapers helping rebuild the world, blech. I didn't need to see that. I liked that it built to this epic finale and that at the end it came down to one decision by an individual to decide the future of the galaxy, and everything after that climax just seemed flat to me.
Dr Wheel says that he was disappointed that no matter what decision you made, the only change in the ending was the colour of the energy wave and I can kind of see that, but for me, the three Mass Effect games were about the journey, trite as that might sound. The decisions I made did make a difference - to my experience of the god knows how many hours of gameplay there were before the final half hour. And it's so like real life that the decisions you make affect your now, but often the big decisions are a matter of choosing between a couple of arbitrary options that you didn't bring on yourself but which will dramatically change the future. And for Shepard, sacrificing herself to save the galaxy is to me, the ultimate in ways such an epic saga could end.
I've tried to think of other ways they could have finished it and I can't. If it'd been a final boss fight and then yay we won and that's that, I would have felt ripped off. There was too much buildup, too much emotional involvement, too much loss, and too much at stake in-game for it to have been a happy, neatly-tied-up ending - and I think that's why the cutscenes of the extension fell flat for me.
Let her dive into the beam, let it release its energy, and let us never know what happened to the Normandy and its crew. That would have satisfied me.
That's one of the reasons I liked the ending to Dragon Age 2 so much as well - [there is a sense of] inevitability as you realise that regardless of your actions, some life-changing events are out of your control and sometimes the consequences are the same no matter what you do, and then you don't really find out what happened to your people afterwards. It leaves something hanging, something that keeps you thinking about it after it's over.
I like that.
Obviously I'm in the minority, for both these games, in liking the way they chose to end them. And I'm concerned that because of that, Bioware will stop writing these types of endings and we'll go back to the 'kill the boss, everyone lives happily ever after' style endings that make games into Disney movies and for me, ultimately forgettable.
I hope not.