The original AOE got pretty shitty reviews, I don't know about 5 and below but it certainly didn't thrill any of the game mags. I still play that constantly.
Whaat? AOE = Age of Empires?
I recall it got glowing reviews, but to me the reviews made it sound extremely dull, like "A historical RTS? Is it some edutainment title for primary schools? What next, a cleaning simulator?".
But when I finally played it (and the sequel) myself, I was very surprised I didn't find it dull at all, and I even enjoyed learning little tidbits here and there about history. The RTS part was very good too.
I just checked it, and yeah, it seemed to get good reviews: http://www.gamerankings.com/pc/90380-age-of-empires/index.html
For some reason, GameSpot seemed to give it pretty poor review, 6.8/10? I have to read that... but others were 9/10 and so. http://www.gamespot.com/age-of-empires/reviews/age-of-empires-review-2537895
Another lukewarm review: http://www.gamevortex.com/gamevortex/soft_rev.php/316/age-of-empires-pc.html
Gamespot in general, especially these days, is very questionable in their reviewing of many games, console based or PC. Their main attention is ofcourse AAA games. For a mainstream approach, that makes sense; review what the market wants the most; the most visually pleasing games in most cases at the time of review, or the most innovative.
I've been reading Gamespot reviews since 1998 or so. For over a decade I was naive to most other reviewer sites, hardly ever visiting any other. I found their info to be informative and complete...I was dead wrong! The last couple of years has seen a lot more biased opinion creep into the site, to the point it brings down games that aren't bad at all, sometimes even before launch. While this isn't only regarding gamespot, they used to never have such biased reviews. Greg Kasavin I found to be an exceptional editor but he left for game development, mostly indie games nowadays. Kevin Vanorn (might have the spelling wrong) is probably the better of the batch of editors there. I sat through over 100 episodes of their Start Select show only to feel episodes repeat, as I only really remember them talking about (go figure) a few AAA titles, such as Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, or Skyrim, with some gossip, rumors, and lawsuits thrown in the mix.
The more games I play before I read reviews the better. "Professional" reviews as they're called only hinder sales in most cases. People would be wise to do their own research, cross-reference reviews, videos, and pictures, but not too much. You don't want to spoil the experience, but you don't want to become biased based on what someone else thinks.
Excuse the rant, but gaming reviews are just too partial to one side most of the time. Some of the worst games out there in Gamespots eyes, especially JRPG's, are some of my favorites, and my fiance's.