It got the job done and there was nothing else like it. Which is all there is to say about it, really. Some grogtards really worship this shit like there was no improvement possible, as if antiquity equates quality. You know the kind of people that I'm talking about --there is no label group more afraid of the new than nerds.
I do miss kits, distinct/non-generic campaign settings, and specialty priests. I sort of miss how the character classes weren't balanced and didn't try to be, but had different XP tables. The campaign settings were actually different from each other instead of being some sort of fantasy lowest common denominator shit. They actually had real themes built into the setting --you didn't see anything like Dark Sun or Planescape come out of 3e, even with the open gaming license. And there could be whack ass shit that worked like a ranger kit that slowly turns into a treant, and grew extra arms. On the other hand, there would be whack ass shit that didn't work, like the mechanician sha'ir class. But there was the Peasant Hero, the Warlock, the Jackal, the Myrmidon, the Wild Mage, and lots of others that I can't even remember that seemed juuustst right.
I don't miss the fragility of low level characters (wizards with 1 hit point, negative HP was optional for over a decade) or the relative monotony of going up levels, nor the gibberish saving throws. Nor the completely arbitrary limitations (dwarves can't be paladins, etc).
Third edition made some serious improvements but also had a lot of problems --I can't remember a single 2e fight taking as long as the average fight in 3e. I don't like feats being more important than classes. I don't like the hundreds of buff spells and modifier types and so forth. More of the classes were useful, but bards were somehow worse than in 2e --every other class had a noticeable power jump. Clerics were still healing batteries first and interesting second. I would buy entire source books just to use five pages of them... fuck, I'd buy entire lines of sourcebooks just to use five pages of them, and even then it would be one feat that occupied a single paragraph, and half of that would be repetitive mechanics information with maybe a quote from every marketing major's darking, the iconic character Lidda, thrown in.
The OGL: Jesus, you could legally publish your own campaign or sourcebook. Which was amazing -lots of non-fantasy games including some that were reputably worth playing --like Mutants and Masterminds, or creative like Godlike). Even with the complete market glut of shitty, unbalanced products, like The Adventurer's Guide To Amazons and its cousins. I guess Hasbro is continuing this in 4e, which is both good and bad.
Is it possible for something to be too balanced? I dunno. There are a lot of things that I really like, a lot of bullshit fixed, but it's a little too precise, at certain points I think to myself "maybe I'd be better off playing left for dead" since that's basically what I'm going for. Well, left4dead meets A Confederacy of Dunces.
I dunno. Lots of 1 round benefits, lots of moving people around the battlefield. I don't know why they even bothered to retain feats in this edition, they're so shitty. They moved away from skillpoints towards what are basically Non-Weapon Proficiencies, which I think a useful anachronism. They also pander completely to the sort of player that I wouldn't be interested in having around.
Again, I dunno. There's some serious mechanics sprawl with saving throws and Defenses (what used to be called Saves). The classes are so perfectly balanced that it's intimidating to try and develop your own classes and abilities. It feels like they actually tried to make it so that things would not be backwards compatible --they slew the sacred cows and then, in lieu of making hamburgers, they made WoW on paper.
It's like they remade the game so that it was so cold and predictable that WoW would be a perfect replacement. There's got to be a sort of balance between rules and drama --and this ain't it.