Finally finished Mass Effect 2 last night.  I won't spoil it here, so don't worry.  You can read on.  I have two thoughts on the ending of the game, first as a game and then as a story.

It's pretty much common knowledge that the end of the game involves a suicide mission against the Collectors.  Hell, the game emphasizes that point almost every time Shepard talks to somebody about it.  Of course, if you look at the Achievements, you know it's possible to survive it.  It's even possible to succeed without losing anybody on your team (sadly, I wasn't able to do that, though I did only lose one!).  This is done through a combination of earning the loyalty of your crew members (do those loyalty missions!) and choosing the right crew member for the job each time you're given a choice during the mission.  Make a wrong choice, and somebody will die.  Make too many wrong choices, and Shepard will die.  It's pretty much that simple.

If you're going for all of the achievements, make sure you have a saved game ready right before the mission starts.  If you go through the mission and somebody dies, complete the mission and do all of the end stuff, and then save it again. Then go back to that first save, look on the Internet for the right choices, and do the mission again that way. Don't save it at all at the end of the mission, thus preserving your original save for the inevitable character import in the third game.

I wish I had done that, actually.  The reason I suggest doing it that way is because I want the story to play out with *my* choices, not necessarily the right choices.  But I would have loved to get that achievement too.  Oh well, that's life.

Anyway, while I liked how the final mission plays out, making choices on who does what, who may live or die, I found the mission itself really anticlimactic as a gamer.  There's really no final boss battle.  There kind of is, but it's not really a hard one.  It won't task you very much at all.  When Shepard says you have 10 minutes to get away, I thought there would be a timed run through the installation, similar to some other missions I had been through before.  But no, the final "boss" comes up, you kill it, and the mission ends.  It's not very satisfying in that way.  I only died once throughout the entire mission, and that was due to my own stupidity.  It's a pretty easy final mission, at least on the regular difficulty level.  (I'm not going anywhere near "insanity")

That being said, and the reason I put that first, is that I actually really loved that aspect of the game.  The final mission really fits the story perfectly and I felt a lot of satisfaction at the end of it, mainly because of how perfectly it fit.  While Mass Effect is a game, it's also an immersive story and what you have to do during the final mission is the perfect ending.  You have to make a huge moral choice that will greatly affect what happens in Mass Effect 3, I assume.  In fact, I would say that choice is the equivalent of a boss battle, just because of how much effect it will have. As a gamer who loves my stories, I loved it!

So what did you think of the ending?  Both as a gamer and as a lover of stories?  Were you as split as I was?

And just as an aside, were you getting tired of constantly taking cover and then leaping over it just to go up the equivalent of stairs?  My kingdom for a "jump" button!!!!