I guess I'll jump in here while my fingers are warmed up and try to add my opinion to this rather lengthy reply (and it's cool they did that as opposed to snubbing their nose with no reason).
I think most of us here like the lengthy scope of this game and don't mind playing 20+ hour campaigns. If we wanted instant gratification, we would load up C&C and play a meaningless 20 minute game with no recollection of memories later and no stories to tell. Epic is just that - it takes time like an opera to unfold and savor all the intricacies that are offered and to exploit your gray matter. Not many people have patience these days, and it's sad that this fact is reflected within their decision making, in my opinion. I enjoy long, enduring, epic campaigns and feel the game sets up a table of a 14 course meal instead of a Hungry Man microwave meal that most kids would be thrilled with in the long run.
Complexity is a subjective term I suppose and how much is too much varies from person to person. You can go as deep as you like in this game or just learn the basics and try to survive. The world is not a simple place and neither is AI War, but I don't find it overly complicated, either. I was up and running within an hour to get the basic gist of things, then I had ample material to sort through to keep my attention as I find it interesting that there is a degree of "rock, paper, scissors" effect going on here and knowledge is key to overcoming heavy losses in the long run. I do prefer the complexity of AI War to other mindless RTS titles that offer little depth and little replay value.
I am the proud owner of a wheel-less old school Logitech three button trackball (stand up for applause). I am not having all that much trouble panning and zooming as this reviewer who is using a mouse wheel states. In a split second I can get a full view and click a key to zoom to my cursor - not all that difficult. As far as controls go, there are a *ton* of hotkeys for this game, but I would rather have a lengthy list of hotkeys than to be very limited in how I give orders to units. I don't find the controls to be all that daunting and there are quite a few I don't use quite yet and I'm doing just fine.
This week I stumbled upon a new product of epic proportions; X3 Reunion. No tutorial, a 100 page manual, and not much detailed explanation of anything...or at least not much "how to" stuff that would have helped. I've been playing all week and have gotten nowhere...very little progress so far and I'm still very confused how to do anything. The X3 series is doing very well and is popular among the space sim crowd I might add. In AI War, I played through the tutorial with no problems, then continued to play through it after the lessons were over to finish the game and win. I felt I had a thorough understanding of the basic fundamentals to operate a game on my own after that. I did tone down the AI quite a bit on my first game run, but that first game is still going after 20+ hours and I'm having fun with it.
There is one thing I definitely do agree with in the review here; AI War is not for everyone. It is a niche game and there is a degree of research that needs to done to hold your own in battle. Will the C&C folks dig AI War? Probably not. Will the GalCiv crowd like it? More than likely. There are times where I like to jump in a mindless game and tear it up for 10 minutes and bail out and forget about it. We all have these games and love them. But some of us need substance...some meat to go with our bread. There are times when I want EPIC and I want to be challenged and think within the realms of a complex game of chess with many more options. The indie market is FLOODED with stuff that refuses to test you in any way and I stay away from that stuff for the most part as I have my quick "rip and bail" games already that do just fine. It's all too clear that the panel of judges here want jump and run titles with high production values and little under the hood to keep your interest for more than 10 hours total. I hail from the great times of Civilzation and Heroes of Might & Magic and Galactic Civilization and I'm more than happy devoting time to a game that rewards me with the opportunity to think and plot my fate over time. You simply can't have that in a quick 10 minute slap and run session and expect a joyous experience that you can converse with your friends about for hours.
Regarding the audio comment. Ok...AI War doesn't offer 3D surround sound ala Crysis and probably won't win a Grammy for voice overs anytime soon. I honestly didn't notice the audio all that much as I was busy with 10 million other things in the process! LOL! I feel that perhaps there could be some minor improvements along these lines, but will it really enhance the game all that much? Probably not. The music is pretty slick, but I normally turn music off during games - OK, I'm strange and not the majority, but I don't think the sound effects and such are terrible. With all that is going on in the game and trying to keep the system requirements down, we really don't need 24 channels of audio flooding our ears when we are trying to think.
All in all, I think AI War is just in a class by itself and can't be ranked among the Mario Bros. clones that it went up against. It really wasn't a fair ordeal entering a quarter horse in a dog show and expect a blue ribbon in the end. Although, the Technical award is quite cool and it definitely deserves that in the very least. Heads and chins held high, I would simply market the game for what it is and not base its merits on what other games are doing - cause if they were all that great, I'd have them on my hard drive.