Somewhere in these forums, you can find a thread called, "Your Elemental Scorecard." The idea behind it was that someone took 1000 points, and distributed them, semi-arbitrarily, throughout the features of the game, giving each individual area a score, and tallying the total at the end.
I took the scorecard and used it as a basis for writing a full review of the game. I'll save you the trouble of reading it, as it's pretty damn long...
I gave it a 34% score. 342/1000 to be exact.
I then went on to say that I don't think of Elemental as a 34% game, not because I'm a Stardock fan, (Which I am,) or because I'm a Fantasy Genre fan, (Which I am,) but because, somehow, despite all the flaws, Elemental is a game that is greater than the sum of its parts. Rather than, metaphorically speaking, feeling like a broken game with bits and pieces scattered on the floor, it felt more like it had many cracks and rough edges, but nothing that some TLC wouldn't fix.
If you haven't checked it out yet, read the Gamers Bill of Rights, which Brad "Frogboy" Wardell, CEO of Stardock, created. Stardock does a damn good job of adhering to the Rights outlined in that Bill, and the fact that they continue to support Elemental, despite how broken it was on release, can tell you at least two things.
1. They can't afford to -not- support it.
2. They actually play their games, and give a crap about making them Quality Titles.
With all that in mind, I would say it's worth taking the plunge, simply on the basis that you'll get Expansions for free. You may tire of the game after a little while, but with 1.1 on the horizon, I doubt that you will, and even if you do, it will take a good deal of time. Took me a whole month, and that was back when the game really was broken to hell and back. And I came back. You will too. After you get tired of the problems and step away for a month or three, the bug will bite you, you'll come back to like 10 new patches, and you'll have the same feeling I did of wonderment and awe at how much progress they've made with the game, and you'll get sucked in all over again until you hate yourself so much for it you can't stand it. =P
My final recommendation:
Buy, if for no other reason, then to support Stardock, who has a commitment to making excellent games. And they will make Elemental an excellent game.