Games have difficulty levels so they can appeal to a wide audience. It's really infuriating that your defense for [bad game] is that you aren't good at it so it's fun for you.
And I don't trust gaming journalism in the least bit, I pointed that out because someone posted about how the critics loved civ5! Of course they did, it was an eagerly awaited tripleA title. That's automatic high marks across the board.
But let's get back to Empire. This was a game that spanned the globe during a time of rapid colonial expansion and the AI was incapable of making naval invasions. The implications are beyond good/bad players; this was gamebreaking. But, in their defense, at least their lead dev fessed up that he was so embarrassed by the state they shipped the game in that he held out on sending free copies he had obtained for his friends until several patches came out.
I only mentioned gaming journalism because I agreed with you, but most gaming journalism probably isn't really aimed at you if you're a highly skilled player who will notice high-level balance flaws (such as in Civ5).
With regards to Empire, the point I was making is that although the game was broken, this may have had no effect on the experiences of many people. That doesn't stop it being broken, but it does affect the seriousness of the problem. I appreciate that it's an annoying argument, but I'm not saying the game isn't broken or that the devs shouldn't be criticized for blatantly broken bits of the game. I just don't think you should judge a game purely on how solid the game mechanics are. Games can be totally unbalanced and still be fun, good games. It depends what you're looking for. With Civ 5 in particular I think people had high expectations for mechanics that weren't met at all. It basically isn't aimed at the same high skill players who enjoyed Civ 4 at the top difficulty levels (at least, I really hope it wasn't). I couldn't say what Empire players were like, I didn't get the impression that there were so many hardcore Total War players, but I don't know the community so that's just a hunch.
Not all games have good quality difficulty levels, most don't offer much in the way of AI resistance for high level players. If I was such a player I expect I would be more cautious about buying games, because I would need a decent challenge to enjoy the game. This is where forums and such are invaluable sources of detailed information about gameplay.
I can't find the bit Femmefatal48 quoted from you, but I'm not arguing that the game isn't broken. I'm arguing that to a substantial number of players, it doesn't matter. No one will refute your points because they can't, but I think they don't like your implication that the entire game is a disaster and unplayable for anyone. For people with a real appreciation of the mechanics and some skill at the game, Civ 5 is from the sounds of it so badly designed as to be unplayable. For your more casual gamers it may be an amusing way to spend some time. I would hope that if you made it clear that it's more experienced players who will have a problem with a game or that it's certain broken mechanics that spoilt the game for you rather than making sweeping statements about the overall quality of the game, you might get less defensive responses. I will not argue that the lack of naval invasions in Empire was not appalling and broken, but I will argue that it didn't make the game a disaster for everyone, ever (which I think was implied in your post).