This game is too close to perfect 4x of my dreams, so I hardly will be objective in this case. I think, I will stick to "good/bad" parts instead, to show what is there.
So, my pros:
- Game is complex. Scalable complex. You can blindly research everything, and throw masses of your troops to win; or you can tinker with initial placement and orders; or you can plan anything - from right artifacts equipped to expert armies assembled - everything will work in single player... for some extent, of course. (Multiplayer requires good knowledge of game, so it will be complex by default).
- Game is vast and diverse. I cannot remember another strategy with at least 4 significantly different races to play (and no, 3 units and 2 advancements doesn't count as "significant"). Dominions 4 have dozens of races, and most of them requires different approach. Sometimes vastly different. There are hundreds of researcheable spells - and it's real, significant spells, not another "Fireball III" type of things. There are dozens of craftable artifacts too - from simple helmets and boots to unique Holy Arc or Staff of Mages that can be only one per game. And there are whole lot of magic sites! And random events too! You got the picture.
- It have planned orders, and what more important - turn-based AI-controlled battles with initial order queue! I think, it's most realistic turn-based scenario: in real battles it's local commanders who matters, not warlord - after initial plan developed, of course.
And now contras:
- Graphics. Poor pixellated graphics from 90s. I still believe that good pixel artist could vastly improve visuals here - but, well, I am not the author, and forums thinks that graphics not matters. Oh, well.
- Interface. It greatly improved since first installation, but still can be very unintuitive here and there. And many commands accessible only via hotkeys. And no filters and sorting for statistics. And not very elaborating reports for everything that are not battles... Oh, well, it definitely could be much better.
- No diplomacy. No pacts, trades, unions or anything. Last part have "minions" system, but it not matters much for single-player, given you AI-controlled armies - and that's all. I think, MP-games more affected by that, but I am not a big fan of multiplayer.
- Limited exploration. You can see whole map right from the beginning. Of course, you cannot see province details, enemy armies, and all magic sites still must be searched individually - but still, in my dreams it could be better!
- Realms-based gameplay. I like to be free, with vast territories, journeys to foreign places and founding cities where I need them. Well, not that game, obviously.
But regardless of described flaws, game remains one of most big, and complex, and elaborate 4X-strategy on market. I love it. Strongly recommended.