With Need for Speed: Most Wanted, EA has taken a huge leap forward. It's the best single-player racing game on the Xbox 360 and easily one of the best non-sim racers ever made. To understand why the game has improved, you only need to look at the man at the helm: Michael Mann. Prior to his work as producer on NFS:MW, he was the producer for Metroid Prime for the GameCube. The producer definitely plays a big role in the development of a game because he's ultimately responsible for the budget and schedule. If a developer wants to develop feature x or y, it's ultimately up to Michael Mann to decide whether it's worth the time and money to work on that game feature.
Electronic Arts' rebellion-themed Need For Speed title. Evade the cops!