For some reason I never played AoE3, not sure why, maybe I remember a lot of people saying it was nowhere near as good as the first two, then over time I forgot about it. I'm sure even my potato of a laptop could run it, maybe I should give it a go sometime.
It is definitely not as good as the first two games, Ensemble tried to direct the franchise into a different direction... It was good, it just wasn't amazing.
I remember back in the late 90's firing up the original age of empires and playing online via dial-up 33.6k on zone.com with giant 8-player FFA matches, 1,600 total units, while other kids were just starting to taste console split-screen gaming.
I do have rose tinted glasses with the AoE franchise which means I didn't look at AoE 3 as fondly, I recognize that bias, so it's not as bad, right? :P