Well, since this thread sorta died, I decided this would be the place to tell everyone about the ending.
This is the only ending I acknowledge because I've PTSD'ed out the regular EA ending.
Shepard has to pick who to attack what on the way to the teleporter beam. Picking the right fleets to attack and which to defend means that Harbinger either shows up or doesn't. He can kill Shepard there if Assets are low enough.
Getting through the beam with Shepard is his surviving team and friends and Anderson. Getting to the control platform there is a VI based on Shepard that explains that the Crucible now represents the complete and total history of all cycles and has the potential to break the cycle.
Shepard's team is ordered to fan out and prepare to protect the control room. Its just Shepard and Anderson until the Illusive Man appears, there is an argument and the VI blocks each party from attacking the other so as to protect the Crucible equipment. It says that the Catalyst is not truly the Citadel but a person who must stand at the center of the Crucible and direct its energies against the Reapers. Different actions will take different amounts of time. The person who enters the machine will not survive.
Shepard can pick Anderson to enter the machine: he will direct the energies of the Crucible to attack the Reapers. It won't be enough to destroy them, but it will hurt them and force them to flee back to Dark Space. The Galaxy will be saved for now, but the Reapers will come back again someday.
-This process is uncomplicated and will take less time.
Shepard can pick the Illusive Man to enter the machine: he will direct the power of the Crucible to dominate the Reapers to serve humanity. With them Humanity will conquer the entire galaxy and reign unchallenged, but one day the Reapers will slip their controls and be free to attack again.
-This process is somewhat complicated and will take slightly more time.
Shepard can choose neither and enter the machine him/herself: Shepard will use his/her force of will to trap the Reapers in place, leaving them vulnerable to attack by the massed forces of the races present. If Shepard has enough resources and allies, the Reapers will be destroyed forever and the galaxy saved. If he/she does not have enough allies or resources, the Reapers will break free and destroy the Crucible and then each organic race in the galaxy, continuing the Cycle.
-This is very complicated and will take a fair amount of time.
If not chosen, the Illusive Man will have to be killed by the VI and Anderson forced out of the Control Room by the shields to join the defense with the Team and Friends.
The Catalyst enters the machine and the process begins. If Shepard entered the machine, an artificial projection of Shepard will take his place in the fight.
Shepard and Friends must fight off waves of Reaper troops assaulting the control room. At the same time Shepard must make recommendations on where to send allied forces and races to best effect. Some races like the Salarians and Asari are best used on the flanks while others like the Krogan or Batarians are best sent into the heaviest fighting.
Depending on resources and what allies are sent where, the waves can be intense or manageable. Team members and Friends who are overrun by Reaper troops are killed.
Shepard is alerted that Harbinger is on his way to disrupt the Crucible's charging. Depending on who was chosen and what fleets were picked to defend, Harbinger can arrive quickly and with full power and no damage, or slowly with great damage and low power. The Catalyst will direct defensive shields from the Crucible to hold Harbinger back from attacking.
Shepard will then be confronted with hallucinated husk-forms of his dead friends, Saren, and finally himself. Defeating each hallucination draws power from Harbinger and buys time. Getting knocked down will result in the Crucible shields getting weaker.
Should the Crucible shields get weak enough and there still be time needed to fire the Crucible, Joker will arrive with the Normandy and crash the SR-2 into Harbinger, killing all aboard and buying Shepard much needed time.
If Harbinger still hasn't reached the control room when time runs down, the Crucible discharges. If he reaches it, well he destroys the Control Room and kills everyone on the station. The Reapers kill everyone and the Cycle continues. Pray for the Yahg.
*If Anderson entered the machine, he tells Shepard to keep on doing what he/she has done and make sure the galaxy is ready for the eventual return of the Reapers. He asks Shepard to tell Kahlee Sanders he is sorry.
**If the Illusive Man entered the machine, he will give a long speech about doing this for humanity, about protecting it and loving it above all else, and only he and Shepard really ever got it. He has no good byes and no apologies.
***If Shepard was the one to enter the machine, he will have a few moments to speak to his Romance partner. If that person is dead, the conversation will be shorter. Shepard will apologize for not keeping his/her promises about a future together, but that this is the only way and for the best of the galaxy. If the Romance partner is alive, Shepard will ask them to live a happy life for him. If the partner is dead, Shepard will say that the destruction of the Reapers is for them and everyone who died.***
The Reapers are are either thrown back in disarray, controlled, or destroyed.
In two of the three endings Shepard lives and helps rebuild and chart the course of the Galaxy, but his/her life will be consumed with the need to oversee preparations for the future attack by the Reapers, and some of his friends will die fighting those who disagreed with Shepard's choices.
In the third ending where Shepard sacrificed him/herself to ensure the destruction of the Reapers, the Galaxy rebuilds without the Commander's presence but with a new future safe from the Reapers and built on a new foundation of trust, cooperation, and understanding. The Krogan have become a civilized race under Wrex and Eve, taking their place in the Galaxy. The Quarians and Geth live in cooperation, resettling Ranoch. The Batarians rebuild in a society based on equality with the destruction of the caste system and the ending of slavery. The Council helps to rebuild Earth in recognition of Shepard's sacrifice, and the four Council Races work together without giving Humanity the shaft.
The Team and Friends who survived carry on and go on to have good, full lives. If everyone survived except Mordin, Thane, Legion, and Kaidan/Ashley, then the Team and Friends will have a memorial service for Shepard and the others who didn't make it.
The whole galaxy remembers and celebrates the life of Commander Shepard who saved them all from the Reapers.
There, THAT is at least a decent ending for Mass Effect 3.
Hell is Empty and All the Devils Are Here.
Last edited by Gulag; 05-15-2012 at 03:19 PM.