Yeah it's just irksome. I got in about 2 hours and I think I'm going to abandon my game and try harder to make it as close as possible. The thing is, they have changed the shading a ton but they have also actually REMOVED a bunch of assets (facial features, hairstyles, eye shapes) etc. that were present in the first two games. Which, if you used those assets, makes it completely impossible to make a Shep that will closely resemble the one you've already played with for 100 hours or whatever. Which is really pretty inexcusable for a game franchise whose central selling point was that it had ridiculous levels of decision-making continuity.
I read a thread on the Bioware forums (still going very strong) where a majority of the posters are just losing their minds about this. Like, half of them have taken to putting "I AM NOT PLAYING UNTIL I GET MY SHEPARD BACK" in their signatures. As if Bioware or EA or anyone care if you take your ball and go home; you bought the game already.
It speaks to how big an oversight this is (and how predictable the outrage from the core consumer base was) but also to how revolutionary the game franchise is. People are really, really invested in the characters and their personalized experience with the game. Given that I like that about ME I hope this trends towards a bunch of clones being made.
So I just finished this. The game is excellent. Just awesome overall. Couple of choices made in storytelling that I would've changed, and one potential chapter they left out that I absolutely would have wanted included (could be DLC). But depending on how you play it there are several just fantastic moments, and two in particular that for me rank among the best in the history of video games as far as I know them.
That being said: the ending is TERRIBLE. Just abysmal. I had heard complaints but didn't want to spoil it so didn't look into them and just went ahead and saw for myself. And the complaints were right. It's a video game, I could deal with some aspects of the ending being a little nonsensical or a bad storytelling device or something. But there is so MUCH wrong with it and so little right that it's just deflating. I don't want to go so far as to say it ruined an otherwise good game / series, but it certainly detracts from the whole thing a ton.
I wonder if they'll respond to the calls for DLC to re-jig it - there is an opening. Give 2 days, a word processor and the voice cast and I could produce a better ending myself.