The historical real-time strategy game that's not Age of Empires II, Rise of Nations is the superior title, in my opinion. Why? Because Rise of Nations has more variety with air battles, seven ages of progression, and more types of resources to scout and use.
I also appreciate that I can be a nation like the Nubians and rewrite history as I conquer the world in modern tanks. For me, Rise of Nations is much easier to learn than AoE and is a great game for any RTS-noob.
Buy Rise of Nations on Steam for $19.99.