Wow, this game is beautiful. X850XTPE here, looks fantastic, although I do get some slowdowns at max settings @ 1024x768 (but those are probably due to my lacking 2800+XP). It seems that the more advanced control of graphical settings is gone, which is a damned shame and I hope it's only for the demo. My system can handle reflection updates at max, but not some of the other settings like antialiasing. I really wish they offered advanced setup, and hopefully the full version will offer it in some degree. The lack of an advanced display setup was extremely disappointing.
Game physics, specifically car physics, feel a little wonky. Not nearly as solid as NFSU2, which had a really great, solid feeling to all of the cars. This game feels like everything is kind of sliding... yet you dont really have any slideouts. It's like they tried to give you control of sliding out but the game doesn't know what you want so the back end of the car kind of repositions itself. Maybe this is graphical though, because playing in first person, the physics seem more solid.
Destruction is great. In NFSU2 & 1, there were often stupid things your car would get caught on. That does not seem to be the case here; I ran through a tree, a toll booth (to a degree) and a newsstand and they all barely slowed me down. I also ran into a couple of Dodge Rams which more or less flew completely off to the side while I continued. Is this hokey? Yes. Is it fun: definitely. I for one really did not like the NFSU style where if you hit traffic you basically had to restart the race because it brought you to a dead halt. Honestly guys, realism does not equal fun. That's the whole goddamn point of the game.
Car damage is graphical only as far as I can tell. It is there, but it doesn't seem to affect you. This is good as far as I am concerned because once again, realism sucks.
The new race modes are awesome. When being chased by the police, you can hear the police scanner as they say where your location is, and try to track down information on you. In a burnout kind of way, the game tracks how much monetary damage you do to the state in terms of "bounty". The police will try to nudge your rearend into a spinout. They will form roadblocks which you can use speedbreaker to get around. They will try to keep up with you. Once you get away from all of the police or satisfy the objectives of your challenge (causing damage or getting around X number of roadblocks), you must evade the police. This is very similar to the impromptu races you could do in NFSU2, where you have a meter that fills with the more distance you have. Once the meter is full, another timer starts called "cooldown", and the game locates a few safe spots for you to hide on the map or you can just chill on the highways and try to avoid being seen.
Speedbreaker is the new addition to the driving. It's like Max Payne for driving, and I haven't decided if I like it. Combined with the somewhat wonky physics, it can leave your car sideways in .25 seconds and then you lose all of your speed. It seems hard to control but then that may be the overall physics which take some getting used to from the NFSU line.
The demo does not let you customize your car, I don't think, but I did get to play about 5 different cars with various customizations, and what looked to be a stock viper with some under-the-hood modifications.