Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

Overview

There are some video game franchises out there that keep coming back without fail. Tony Hawk started on the original PlayStation, and had since transitioned to modern consoles with the Underground series. And now with a new console in town, Activision again polishes their cash cow franchise and took it for yet another turn Tony Hawk: American Wasteland for the Xbox 360. So how does the game end up performing on the so-called next-gen console? Read our full review to find out!

Gameplay

Sure some people may be sick of seeing yet another 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 series, as this allowed for a much more immersive experience, with a very storyline to boot. THUG succeeded in reeling in new sets of fans, but it’s a different story with its predecessor, which didn’t add anything new to the whole franchise. So now Neversoft decided to go a different route with their acclaimed series, to the streets of LA in American Wasteland.

So what is American Wasteland is a question that I am sure is on many of your minds right now. Well it is still the standard Tony Hawk concept, except for one important detail. Instead of having multiple levels like in the previous games, American Wasteland seamlessly turns the Los Angeles into one big skate park. This means you will have one big environment that you can skate through without any load 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 unexpected to find in American Wasteland but you will have to complete the same sort of tasks that we all have been accustomed to completing. The story mode of course is not all that long, but longer in comparison to the previous games. Overall the whole idea of American Wasteland’s story line is not all that new but is still fun none the less.

What Neversoft did try to provide in American Wasteland was the ability to ride the bike, which is a neat idea. The controls for the BMX bike are somewhat different from the skate 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. When riding your board it feels so smooth, but when on the bike things just sort of feel strange. 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. Although for the most part it worked, it just never felt overly impressive.

Outside of the games 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 Xbox 360 version of this game, the online support is pretty much what we have already grown accustomed to in the Tony Hawk series on Xbox Live. There was nothing really added to the series this time around, and this is both good and bad. So you can expect to have the same sort of options on Live as you have had with Tony Hawk online in the past. For me, I enjoyed playing online in this game just like I did in the previous two games.

Tony Hawk: American Wasteland for the Xbox 360 is one of the few launch titles that actually seems to play identical to what we saw on the current generation of consoles. There literally has been nothing changed in terms of gameplay that warrants the higher purchase price. The game is still the same great Tony Hawk experience, but unfortunately it doesn’t have that "next gen" feel that a "next gen" console like the 360 desperately needs.

Graphics

Visually Tony Hawk: American Wasteland looks almost identical to what we saw on the Xbox and Playstation 2, even on an HD TV set. The 360 version has a bit better character models, but most of the game has gone unchanged. And what does arise from this 360 version are some major problems. First off, when you compare the new aspects of American Wasteland to parts of the game which have gone unchanged, the game actually ends up looking worse than before. Not only that, but the game’s animation just feels nowhere near as fluid as the current consoles as well. American Wasteland for the 360 doesn’t have any amazing presentation features that you would have hoped for, but instead seems as though it went in the wrong direction.

Fun Factor

Tony Hawk, since its debut in 1999, has always been a fun game, as even upto American Wasteland I have not found a game that I have not enjoyed. American Wasteland may not offer any overwhelming new features to the experience on the 360, but the one environment idea does offer a more open-ended experience. The bike is a neat idea as well and at first is quite a bit of fun to play, but as time wore on I found that the whole bike 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 finds things to enjoy in American Wasteland.

Overall

Tony Hawk: American Wasteland for the Xbox 360 unfortunately doesn’t take the series to the next generation of Tony Hawk games. This to me just felt like a rushed port. Although it was nice beginning to see some visual upgrades to the game, nothing in my mind stood out in American Wasteland. It is hard for me to see any reason spending $60 on this version, but I would check this out as a rental just to see Tony Hawk on the 360 and the pure potential it has.

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.