When Need for Speed: Most Wanted was released many years ago, EA had a winner. Since then there have been three additional installments to the Need For Speed Franchise; Carbon, Pro-Street and the latest Undercover.
Sadly, with every installment EA has come closer and closer to the Abyss and is now circling the bowl.
I loved Most Wanted and have paid good money and played the sequels. Carbon does not deserve a mention, Pro-Street is an OK track racer, but I had high hopes for Undercover all through development (a member of my gaming community was part of the development team). To say I was disappointed with the finished product is an understatement.
The career story is weak and uneven. In Most Wanted and Carbon, the career story drives the game, and to some extent it does in Undercover, but it is choppy. It is detached from you the player when the cut-scenes interact with the main character, who is of course you.
There is a good side to the game: The Speed is there. The Free mode is back and it is a lot of fun driving around a sand box environment. The inclusion of Highway races is fun and can get the adrenaline pumping. The Cop Chases are back in a way not seen since Most Wanted, but they are uneven in difficulty. They rage from "you could get away driving backwards on a tricycle" to "Holy Crap, there is no way to shake these guys!" The car personalization is there but with no where near the choices and customization options that are offered in Pro-Street. The race modes offer enough variety to keep you playing, but I have no favorite. Graphically it meets the standard but is no better than Most Wanted.
The not so good side of the game: despite a number of updates since release the frame rate in the multi-player mode is brutal. Watching your opponent(s) ping-pong across the screen is challenging at best and impossible for a competitive race at worst. It gets worse with the more players that are in the room racing. Warping to races in career should be an option for the player not mandatory; if the player wants to drive and take-in the open world aspects of the game they should be able to. To comment on the story to be improved is pointless because that can't be fixed with updates.
Overall, if you like the franchise rent or buy the game. The mainstream reviews, for the most part, have trashed the game. This may be unfair, because the game is fun. The question is "how much fun and how much more fun could it have been?" It has been suggested by many that EA rushed the game for a holiday release; we will never know.
Bottom-line: If you are like me and love the Need For Speed franchise, you will play this game and find some good in it, you just may have to search for it. If you haven't played a Need For Speed game and want a good driver with a decent single player career mode, get it.
I sit here patiently waiting to buy the next installment, hoping they get it right, needing to own the game.