I guess I'm one of those few who like it. The AI is pretty simplistic at lower levels, which is where you want to play it on the Hard level...you start getting beat over the head almost immediately, at least if you play either the Empire at War or Galactic Conquest maps. Different planets have different challenges...some can be easy and some can be a bear. I've played EaW more than the FoC expansion for the strategy portion, mainly because I can't stand having to use half your time (and money) getting rid of corruption if you're playing against the Consortium.
Orbital bombardments are available in the FoC campaign missions, as long as you have a cap ship in orbit, though they take much longer to recharge than the bombing flyovers.
Anyway, on the original EaW, I've played it more than a few times, and you really have to be on your toes in quite a few places, else the AI will club you over the head hard and fast. And I don't know about anyone else, but I like that kind of challenge.
Multiplayer is a lot better with the FoC expansion. There's more to play with in terms of units...though there's a pretty heavy imbalance if the player with the Empire is able to build both the DS II AND the Executor. Get this pair into a system, and it's almost a guaranteed win for the Empire in the space portion. After that, hey, why bother with the ground forces? BAM! One planet chewed up. Next!
I liked it, and still play it from time to time.