There are some series around that just never seem to go away, no matter what some people may say. Tony Hawk is one of those series, which has seen new releases every year, from the Pro Skater to Underground and now to American Wasteland. Tony Hawk: American Wasteland tries to offer a more seamless gaming experience by designed the game as one huge level. How does this idea end up working out? Read our full review to find out!
Sure some people may be sick of seeing Tony Hawk games, but I am among those that still find these games to be quite enjoyable. I was a huge fan of the Tony Hawk: Underground (THUG) series, as this allowed for a much more immersive experience with a decent storyline to boot. THUG really regained a new audience, but THUG 2 really didn’t bring anything new to the series. So now Neversoft decided to go a different route with their acclaimed series, and takes them to the streets of LA in American Wasteland.
I’m sure you’d want to know what exactly is American Wasteland? Well it is still the same Tony Hawk feel, except that you now have one big environment to skate through, without being confined to levels, or experience any loading times. This idea actually plays out pretty nicely throughout the game, and the story mode ends up being the main course in the game. Without giving away any of the story, it is basically just a pretty good experience. Basically you start out with some of the massive environment and you continually gain more and more as you progress. What is neat about this storyline is at the end you really get one heck of a skate park that I have spent quite a bit of time going back and playing.
The story mode feels pretty identical to what we saw in the previous few Tony Hawk games. There is nothing overly surprising to find in American Wasteland, but you will have to complete the same sort of tasks that we all have been accustomed to. The story mode of course is relatively longer in comparison to the previous games. Overall the whole idea of American Wasteland’s storyline is not all that new, but is still fun nonetheless.
One great gameplay idea put forth in American Wasteland is the ability to ride the bike, in addition to your traditional skateboard. The controls for the BMX bike are somewhat different from the board, but are still easy to pick up. My biggest problems with the BMX bike are that it just doesn’t feel as smooth as you would hope, compared to skating on your board. The bike isn’t used all that much either, so you won’t expect this to be a key focus of the game. I liked how they were trying to bring a new aspect to the table, which does work, but not impressive.
Outside of the game’s story mode you have the classic mode. But considering that most of the great courses have already been used in the game, American Wasteland does not offer up a great classic idea. There are not all that many classic courses to go through, and you can expect to see the same sort of objectives as you are used to, like picking up SKATE, getting score bonuses, and things of that nature. It was disappointing not to see more in the classic mode, but it does what it set out to do.
One of my favorite experiences in the THUG series was the online support, which I spent countless hours playing. On the Playstation 2 version of this game, the online support is pretty much what we have already grown accustomed to in the Tony Hawk series. You will still have the same sort of ideas to work with in the game. And since the game is also powered by Gamespy, you can expect the online experience to be pretty typically good. There was nothing really added to the series this time around, and this is both good and bad. For me, I enjoyed playing online in this game just like I did in the previous two games.
Tony Hawk: American Wasteland is a solid game across the board, but unfortunately did not bring anything revolutionary or impressive to the series. Sure it was a great pleasure to skate and bike around the whole environment, without any load times. But then again a change of scenery is always good too, so it is kind of a double-edged sword. With all of this said, I enjoyed American Wasteland for what it had. Although it may not have revolutionized the series, the inclusion of one big environment and the bike was still a good change.
Visually nothing has changed from THUG 2 to American Wasteland, except for the environments, which of course now resemble Los Angeles. Besides the environments, everything in the game just flows nicely together, not giving you any overwhelming sense of detail, or any huge upgrades. The game just does stick to the formula, not offering much in terms of detail. The character models still, in my opinion, are sketchy and LA seems a bit bland. Overall the game still looks good, but nothing has really changed either.
Tony Hawk, since its inception in 1999, has always been a fun game. American Wasteland may not offer any overwhelming new features to the experience, but the one environment idea does offer a more open-ended experience. The addition of the bike is a neat idea as well. It was quite a bit of fun to play, but as time wears on, I found that the experience could have used more depth. There are some new tricks for the board to add to the experience and some interesting ideas, but nothing that really takes this experience above and beyond where it has already been. In the end however, if you are a fan of Tony Hawk, you will still really enjoy American Wasteland.
The thing about American Wasteland is that it really doesn’t do anything to try and change the whole Tony Hawk experience. The addition of the bike was a welcome one, but hopefully they can take this and expand upon it in future games. Overall Tony Hawk: American Wasteland is a solid skating/biking experience that I enjoyed, and fans of the Tony Hawk series will continue to enjoy as well.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.