It is a good game, but you have to free your mind from the thought that YOU are the one who should determine all the details. You CAN, but this will get a very hard task very soon.
MOO3 is more a game of global (or, well, universal) political and economic strategy -- you think about long-term goals, let the AI carry it out for you, and make some corrections, if necessary.
I felt like a politician who determines the overall direction -- the real work is done by your staff, in this case the AI.
Of course, then it's bad that many players consider the AI assistents not very clever. However, I think the AI does a good job, but perhaps in a different way than some players would do.
I'll echo what he said. There is much much less micromanagement, but much more emphasis on macromanagement (is that even a word?). Determining how advisors build your economy, setting tax rates, setting research sliders, and that sort of thing is what the game is all about; basically you put in charge of making all the overarching policy decisions. After I got my build plans set up (which is a little bit of work, but it is worth it), the only micromanagement I ever did is keeping track of my own colonization and designing ships.
The learning curve is actually a learning ]i]cliff[/i], but after 3 or 4 games i got the hang of it. Most of the trouble was getting my brain around the totally different approach. It is much more hands-off than other TBS titles (such as MoO, MoO2, MoM, the Civilzation series, etc), which is one of the big reasons for much of the derision in the reviews.
It is complex, it is deep, it is very satisfying, as soon as you get it.
But fanmods are a must.
Yep. Install the game, install the Tropical patch, and give it a chance. It really is a fun game once one gets used to it. In many, many ways I actually like it BETTER that the other MoO games. The real-time tactical combat is really fun for me, for instance. Also, I actually like the strategic significance of the Warp Lanes (is that what they are called, it has been a while?) between systems rather than a wide open galaxy.