Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

Review

posted 11/9/2005 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS2

Unfortunately your time in L.A. is not all partying and good times; as soon after you have made California your new home you are mugged and left to fend for yourself.  Thankfully it doesn’t take long before you are confronted by a girl named Mindy and her pack of friends.  In no time they are showing you their skate park, an empty oasis that has some major potential.

Much of the game has you grinding and doing tricks in order to “collect” various parts of the city for your skate park.  You’ll be grabbing everything from shark heads to the walk of fame to the Hollywood sign, all in an attempt to make your park THE place to go when you want to perform wicked tricks.  For every piece of L.A. you collect you will be given a chance to automatically go to the skate park to see where the piece was put, but since there are so many different things to collect you’ll probably end up waiting until much later before moseying back to your oasis.  By the time you’ve completed the single-player campaign you will barely be able to recognize this park, there’s almost too much there by the end of the game.

The challenges you are required to complete should be the meat and potatoes of the game, but instead we’re forced to play through a whole bunch of lackluster missions in order to advance the story.  The single biggest problem with the missions are that they are entirely too easy.  In older Tony Hawk titles there was a nice mix of easy and hard for you to work on, but here things seem decidedly easier from beginning to end.  Most of the missions line you up where you want to go so it’s really nothing more than doing exactly what it says at exactly the right time, something you can retry over and over until you get it right.  The game seems to be preoccupied with the feeling that it needs to help you every step of the way, something that gets a little old by the time you’ve made it out of the training levels.

Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland controls just as you would expect from seven years of tweaking an already good simulator.  They’ve added a few new moves, but by and large the game will still feel just as you remember from last year’s model (or really any before it).  If you haven’t played a Tony Hawk game in a while (or ever), don’t worry, the game does an excellent job of explaining how to do just about everything in the American Wasteland universe.  Unlike earlier entries this one feels like it is more geared at new skaters, those gamers who somehow missed the last six Tony Hawk games.  While I like to see that the game is accessible to everybody, it would have been nice if they had given us series veterans a little attention, too.

Unfortunately it’s not just that the game is extremely easy, it’s also very short.  No matter how bad of a Tony Hawk player you are, chances are you will bust through this in a dedicated weekend, it’s just not all that long.  The story stays interesting all the way through, but the whole experience is over far too quickly.  All of the small missions seem like they are building to something big (like a big skate-off or something), but that never happens and the ending just feels like it comes too early.  There are barely any missions that require you to actually skate against other players, something that made the first few Tony Hawk games so much fun.

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