Update: Criterion Games' Creative Director Alex Ward has responded on Twitter to the rumor that their next game is Need for Speed: Underground. "Totally fake. Remakes and Reboots? #movedon." This perhaps implies that Criterion is working on a new IP, but really all Ward's comments have done is created an air of mystery around their project. Maybe it's not a racing game... okay, it's probably still a racing game.
Ward further elaborated:
"May as well add this. Sequels. Reboots. Remakes. Been There. Done that."
Coming off the rumor that Criterion Games is working on a next-gen racing game for release in 2013, an anonymous source sent an illuminating tip to EGM. The tip included a modern logo for Need for Speed: Underground, implying Criterion may be rebooting the 2003 release for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Underground was known, at the time, for its expansive single-player storyline and imported cars.
Given the rumor about Criterion's work on a next-gen game, the studio's new focus on the Need for Speed brand and their willingness to reboot old title for modern generations, this tip rings true. Of course, it could simply be from a talented graphic designer jumping on an opportunity. This is "The Internet" after all. As much as I hope and dream for more Burnout, Need for Speed is just a more profitable brand -- and EA loves its profit.
One last question remaining: "When can we expect an announcement?" Lets do some more Internet science. EA is rumored to have made a partnership deals with Microsoft for their next-generation console, which has yet to be announced. As such, it would make sense that such a big game as Need for Speed: Underground would likely be announced at their console reveal, yes? Though that might create some conflicting emotions with the rumored Forza game also likely to be announced there... TOO MANY RUMORS AND VIDEO GAMES!
Expect more information in the next month in a half, Criterion Games' fans.