I think there is a misconception of why 3e multiclassing was not good. The point is that for a given XP amount, corresponding to a given level, you would get the abilities of two classes but (obviously) you would not be effective as a single-class character of a level equal to the sum of the levels.
Originally Posted by Kenwolf
THIS is what happens in 1e/2e too: you lag far behind single classed characters in terms of abilities due to allocation of XPs.
In short, you sacrifice focus for flexibility. Personally, I think the 1e/2e/3e system works well, and I don't mind the trade off. Actually, if you were as effective at multiclass like at single class, there would be NO REASON to single class at all. It would be a munchkin's wet dream.
If there is a criticism of 3e, it might be that the multiclassing system is prone to abuse. It's nice to add classes as the need arises (the XP price is steep however), but the suggestions in the DMG should be should be carefully evaluated. As in many other 3e things, the DM should have a strict control of what happens: the game system is too flexible a tool to leave it in the hands of the players only.
This said, I like the 4e system too, since it allows multiclassing but it lends towards strong archetypes, which is a good thing in a class-based system like D&D.
It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. Never hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you [...] YOU ARE CREATOR AND FINAL ARBITER.
E. G. Gygax, Dungeon Masters Guide, 1979.