I decided to write a review immediately, because many people request more info about this game.
I warn you before you proceed: those lines below are my thoughts after first 1:30 of gameplay, it may look biased, contain spoilers (I'll try to avoid as much as possible) and maybe discourage you of buying this game. Let's begin....
Game is played via EA Origin, but I was able to run it in offline mode (only if I set Origin to remember). Everything looks very smooth and nice, no lags, quite quick loading, no stuttering, even at my fullHD res. You're ensured you're playing game from EA, made by Criterion (yeah, the guys who made Burnout:). As soon as I begin the game I start a tutorial to understand the basics of the game....quite quick, even for me, I got directly into racing...
First thing I was positively surprised are visuals and optimization of them. Game suggested fullHD with almost all settings to highest, except ambient occlusion and models geometry (those were set only to medium:). I lowered res to 1600×900 and I get 37fps average (27-48 range), not a bad result I think. Game runs on Frostbite2 engine (you may know it from previous NFS: The Run or Battlefield 3...), so everything looks very nice - especially lights, rays, shadows....generally whole environment looks awesome. And now cars: details are unbelievable, especially damage of the cars - yeah, even smashed back-light looks cool! But I must say it looks quite synthetic together, I couldn't come to taste...
Another thing I must mention is the sound quality of the game: driving in tunnels gives very authentic feeling, including echoes, volume increase...Soundtrack is quite varied, some tracks are fine, some not - depends on everyone's taste of course...
There aren't many keyboard shortcuts, so basically you get to menu, containing worldmap, your stats, options, multiplayer stats..I'm quite sad there's no "map" shortcut. Together with inaccurate GPS (yeah, very weak) I get lost very quick. Speedometer is present here, all "quick features" are available via specific top-left-corner menu.
Car handling: it's....unusual. I expected Burnout-arcade-based handling or NFS-realistic handling, but the mix is just terrible. Some cars behave like driving on snow, some are like driving a steamship. Crashes are totally unbalaced, so you can get wrecked very easily at low speed, or on the other hand smash something at 200km/h and then drive further with damaged car. Finally, considering there are only 41 cars in game and customization is very poor, even NFS: The Run was richer at this point. Moreover there are gas stations that repair and recolour your car anytime you drive through, it made me quite unsure...
Very important element of racing game is race system. Here, Criterion decided to use free-drive way, unfortunately with plenty of checkpoints. Let me explain: you can drive anywhere because there are no tranparent borders, but when you miss a checkpoint, you won't get back on track, so loosing a race is almost certain. As I said in the beginning, I haven't played it for long, but there are regular races (everything permitted) and speedraces (you're supposed to reach and maintain average speed in checkpoint race).
Game is called Most Wanted, so everyone expects cops. I must say I'm very pleased with them this time, because somehow they're about 300% more intelligent compared to previous NFS. Expect hanbrake tricks and real range of view of every single cop car. Chases are real challenge and I already had pursuits more than 10 minutes long! Pity is that smashing through roadblocks results in crashing your car and cutscenes are already boring me.
As every game, also this one has pros and cons. And as every new game, also this focuses more on audio-visual enjoyment rather than gameplay and story (did you noticed I didn't mention it above because there's none?:). To sum it up very quickly, worldmap is like Burnout Paradise style (yeah, there are also billboards and gates, many shortcuts, jumps and destroyable objects:), but cars are licensed, so the final mixture looks a bit weird. Game is worth trying, hardcore gamers who remeber old good games will have to get used to it, and new gamers will love the look of the game. I played this game for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, career completion is at 11%, so note that singleplayer part is quite short. Anyway I hope multiplayer will provide hundreds of hours of fun with friends, because this game world is quite big and highways are almost infinite (literally).