I can’t get over Mass Effect 3 after all. I’m replaying it now, mostly out of boredom, but despite myself, it’s still having an emotional impact. I’m not looking forward to the ending, but I just got through one of the first major tragic/heroic moments, and it hit me as hard as the first time through.
Depending on choices you’ve made, you have the option to cure the genophage, a bioengineered disease that prevents the krogan from reproducing. This is a major part of the Mass Effect mythos, and to change it is a huge deal. The game is full of shit like this.
It seems to me that Paragons come up short in ME3, because your reward for being nice is that a lot of good people die. In my playthrough, Mordin volunteers to stay behind to ensure his miraculous genophage cure is administered to the entire krogan population. The facility where this happens is under attack, and while Mordin is able to disperse the cure, he loses his life in the process.
After the deed is done, particles of ash rain down from the tower where Mordin died. Shepard pauses to catch one on his hand, then looks up at the tower and smiles a bit before walking away. This music is playing, and it has played at moments like this throughout the whole series. The continuity this creates between the most emotional scenes in the whole trilogy is a powerful thing, and few other games have ever used music in this way to such effect.
So many things were so right about these games. I understand very well why people were so upset with the ending. I don’t have a good solution, but I definitely understand.