The first Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2005) is still my most favorite racing game of all time. The police chases were fast, frenetic, and fun and had a pretty decent story that was the first interesting one in a racing game that I can remember (even better one than the Fast and Furious movies). This game is entirely different, which is bittersweet.
With that said, this sequel, reboot, or whatever it is defined as has police chases, but they are not nearly as fun or intense as the original. In the original, there were specific sites that your vehicle could hit that would cause explosions, tip towers over, etc. to help lose the police and is sorely missed in this version. The mechanics of the chases themselves just don't feel as exciting. The only way to outrun police in the new version is to find the highway and outrun them. In the older version, going off-roading into the world's golf course or twisting and turning in new directions could lose the police. In typical Criterion fashion, this game does not have any story to it. Also, there is no customization to the cars.
When you finally realize this is its own game, you realize how good it is. The game makes up for the disappointments with tons of great ideas. Autolog is back. Unlockables. VERY lifelike city. Very different range of cars from a Ford F150 to Forumala One racing car. You basically had to use a certain vehicle in the original to progress, but you can swap between about 40 or so cars at will using one or many to complete the game. This game promotes EXPLORATION, which is its finest trait. Knocking down billboards, finding cars, and speed cameras are a few of the things that the game rewards you for. With such a nice city, it takes awhile for it to get old. There's nothing like the freedom of an open road trying to find every nook and cranny where a new vehicle may be hiding.
Like the previous Most Wanted game, it is just FUN. It is not the sequel I was expecting, but take out the Most Wanted title out and is is very good. Good enough to be my second favorite racer of all time (and I've played alot).