I'm finally able to get to the latest entry in the Need for Speed Franchise: Hot Pursuit, and too my surprise it's from two teams whose work I'm a fan of. Criterion (of the Burnout legacy) and DICE, who I assume are handling the multiplayer. True to form, I haven't even touched multi yet, but social connections pervades every aspect of this game.
First off, the game is fun. It's not an Underground series, so while you start with a something along the lines of a Mazda RX-8, expect to be into the more expensive cars fairly early. In fact, you probably see more underground-type cars on the road as you pass them, than you ever will in the races.
The game goes back to the old Cop's versus Speeders concept, but it allows you to easily decide from events for either side. There is a ranking system that allows you access to later cars as you complete races and earn bounty and the two versions are completely independent. My favorites aspect being that the game actually keeps an overall play-timer and a timer for each section so you can see how long you've been playing. With that same premise you also get very early access to faster cop cars pretty early on, and leveling is just a matter of at least trying and coming in top 3 (in addition to driving like you want it).
As far as driving goes though, the game doesn't feel like the Underground or Undercover series. The handbrake here is almost an insta-drift, but it's something you get used to very early on. Considering how much you're dealing with exotics and super cars, you spend more time trying to point the nose in the right direction and then smash the gas, than you do wildly swerving and the computer will take advantage of a bad turn. The driving is good though, and the learning curve and level design is thought out, so your racing roads that feel natural and become more difficult with your skill level (and that's just the racer part).
At this point, I've finished the racing section of the game, meaning I've beaten all the tracks in first through third, and am working on the cop section. The cop section really is the racing part that feels different, but it's a welcome different. Not only are you using new tools to try to stop someone, but you're also using driving skill to catch up. One bad crash as a cop can let the speeders get away just as fast as not being in the right car.
But it's not all breaking up races either.
There seem to be 3 race types for the cop career. Hot Pursuit, which is breaking up races, Interceptor, which is taking down one speeder, and Rapid Response, which is basically a time trial where collisions add to the clock. They're all fairly fun, definitely fast, but expect to have a feeling of monotony here moreso than the tradition racing. Maybe it's because it stands out that you're the only cop on the scene for all of them, but this whole type to me is just screaming to be played in Multiplayer.