ony Hawk’s American Wasteland

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ony Hawk's American Wasteland
Game: ony Hawk’s American Wasteland
Platform: Xbox 360
Studio: Activision
Rating: 7.5/10

GAME DESCRIPTION: No levels. No load times. Just never-ending action that doesn’t stop until you leave the game! Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland™ gives you – for the first time ever in a Hawk game – the freedom to skate, or bike, throughout a rich, expansive open environment. Once you arrive in Los Angeles, the vast city that gave birth to skate culture, the sky’s the limit as you progress through the Wasteland story and choose missions that will have you immersed in the action without ever skating the same line twice!

* Freedom To Ride Forever: No load times. No level-based gameplay. In American Wasteland, you travel throughout the vast urban terrain of Los Angeles including Hollywood, East L.A., and other landmark areas without restrictions or repetition.

* Ultimate Player Control: More tricks and expanded controls than ever before!
o New on the board tricks include the Bert slides, Natas spins handstands, and one-footed grinds and manuals
o New off the board tricks include wall runs, wall flips, and charged jumps

* Choose Board Or Bike: For the first time, you can choose to ride BMX bikes throughout the entire game, with all-new physics, a BMX specific control system and several BMX-specific goals.

* Customize Like Crazy: Enter and explore dozens of shops in game to customize your gear and your look! Check out skate shops, barbershops, tattoo parlors, and clothing stores as you accomplish goals and earn cash.

* Expanded Online & Multiplayer: For the first time ever, Xbox Live in addition to the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system with online capabilities! New two-player co-op play available in Classic Mode, in which you can complete classic THPS goals alongside your friends.

PLAY: The story of American Wasteland is actually better than the game play. This isn’t what we’ve come to expect with Tony Hawk releases. American Wasteland is set in a huge map of L.A. where you have no levels.

As a punk from the Midwest you have very little skills—even those skills that seemed elementary in the early years of Tony Hawk aren’t available in the beginning. You must build your skater up by learning new tricks. Some of the tricks you learn are old hat by now while others are cool new additions. You can also get off your board to ride a BMX or use your board as a weapon. Neither is particularly important or exciting.

Less exciting are the goals that you must accomplish. Basically when you move to a goal you are put right where you must start and told exactly what to do. Sounds good except it takes out all the joy of getting to the location or trying to figure out what you must do. In the past you had to figure out how to knock something down or to get to an area where you could accomplish a goal. Now you are put right in position and that takes much of the fun and guesswork out of it.

The areas are fantastic. You can skate Santa Monica, Hollywood, downtown L.A. Beverly Hills and then head indoors. There is a lot at your disposal and its too bad most of it wasn’t utilized with tons of mini games. Technically you can’t call the classic mode mini games because they are nothing more than the old tracks from previous Tony Hawk releases.

GRAPHICS: We expected more of the next generation of Tony Hawk. There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between the Xbox and Xbox 360 version. You’d expect much more out of this version and that is a huge letdown.

SOUND: The sounds are picked up from the previous releases. The soundtrack is again top notch so you have some great things to listen to while you are trying to make your way through L.A. The voice acting is good—too bad it doesn’t line up with the characters speaking.

FRANKLY: Xbox 360 has Xbox Live and this is identical to the Xbox release. The Xbox 360 version looks at plays much like the PC version. Mostly the 360 version fells like a bad port of the console version. Should you drop the extra cash to play one that is barely tweaked for a next Generation console or wait? That is your choice but we’d wait until next year’s version.

+ Richie Wright

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