The original Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005) was, along with Underground 2 (2004), the best Need for Speed. Those were the glory days of Need for Speed, when EA was releasing one great game after another: High Stakes (1999), Porsche Unleashed (2000), Hot Pursuit 2 (2002), Underground (2003), Underground 2 (2004), Most Wanted (2005), Carbon (2006). That's at least 7 great games IN A ROW. After that, NFS somehow lost its taste. From ProStreet (2007) that wasn't quite sure if it was a simulator or an arcade, through Undercover (2008) with a pointlessly large city that you don't have to explore at all, to The Run (2011), which disappointed with no customization, poor and short story etc. Of course, NFS isn't completely dead yet, because there are still Shift (2009), Shift 2 Unleashed (2011) and Hot Pursuit (2010) that keep it alive.
Once you play the new Most Wanted, you can't really say that the famous racing series is back on track. While some professional review sites (such as IGN) gave it pretty high scores, fans (including me) don't seem to like it. First of all, once again there is no visual customization that me and most fans expected. You can only apply a custom body kit or change the color. Speaking of color, the color of the car can only be changed by... wait for it... going through a gas station, which magically repairs your car, refills your nitrous and changes your color to a randomly picked one, and all that in a split second. But the real frustration is if you are in a race, see that there is a shortcut through the gas station (and you could use a repair), so you go through the gas station and suddenly your cool, black Porsche becomes a funny-looking, pink Porsche. Very frustrating indeed. Also, the game seems somewhat oversimplified. Some basic settings that were in almost every previous NFS (ability to customize your EA Trax library, anti-aliasing, ability to switch back to full screen after entering windowed mode etc.) are nowhere to be found, which can be really frustrating at times.
Now, the good. Graphics are really amazing and look great even on the lowest settings at 1024x768. The car damage system is pretty good too. Although it's not quite on par with Shift, Shift 2 and even ProStreet, it's very nice and should serve as an example for Forza and Gran Turismo, which both have dismal car damage. The fact that you can drive all but 10 cars from the very beginning of the game just by finding them is something that players might like.
So, this is the conclusion: although the new Most Wanted is considerably better than The Run, it's not quite a Need for Speed. The studio that created the game, Criterion, made it clear that this isn't a real sequel to the old Most Wanted. However, what they made doesn't look like a sequel to Need for Speed, let alone Most Wanted. Its name should be changed to "Burnout Fairhaven with cops".