Almost, but not quite
I had high hopes for NFS: Undercover. Unfortunately I was very disappointed. I felt that the series kept going down starting with Carbon.
The NFS series returning to its roots with this game is kind of an overstatement. For anyone who has played NFS: Most Wanted, this will definitely remind you of it. But the more you play it, the more it feels like a poor man's Most Wanted. It feels rushed and incomplete. Rushed in the sense that there is no overall map despite the small map circle. It's not easy to choose your races with the standard map circle because it shows so little that it's just a hassle driving around. Fortunately for us, if you're one of those who just want to get right into the burning tires, then the tab button will be your best friend throughout the game. The TAB button is the "mission" button. Basically the TAB button will give you your next race. This wouldn't be such a big deal if there was a decent map like Most Wanted had to choose your races. But that's not in here so your game will probably be "Race, TAB, Race, TAB, Race, 30 second cutscene, Race, TAB, Race, TAB, Race" etc.
The gameplay doesn't do any favors either. The game just feels unfinished. the actual racing doesn't feel as tight as previous NFS games. The physics are out of whack. When you bump into a curve your car goes flying in the opposite direction as if the curve was a rubber wall. The response time is around a second for turning. Previous NFS games had this problem on the pc, but they weren't this bad.
Speaking of cars, you liked the garage and car shops from the underground series? Too bad because it's not here! The only choice you have is throughout the "story". So after a few races you get the chance to choose the losers' pink slips. Of course you never get attached by the cutscenes from your advisaries when it comes time to take their ride.
I don't know if the PC version is a port of a console version, but it doesn't make a difference. the graphics are bad. They are actually worse than Most Wanted. This is not scaled for the PC platform at all.
We can all guess why EA releases these kind of games. They are just too quick to make good on empty promises. Return to the series' roots? I would say it's a return...a return to the past in the bad way. EA needs to let developers actually make a GOOD game and not pressure them to meet deadlines that just won't cut it. Then again, this has been a problem with EA all along hasn't it.
Let's hope the next NFS game will be up to par with the series' legacy. Until then, either play Race Driver: GRID or Most Wanted and have a blast!