Tony Hawk's American Wasteland


posted 1/4/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360

Instead of being a large, wide-open space, the L.A. in American Wasteland is really just a bunch of closed in locations that are connected by a street, tunnel, sewer, etc.  In essence you will be playing regular Tony Hawk levels, the kind we’re used to from earlier entries … only this time you will be able to skate through the loading screens (instead of waiting).  You still get to hit the major L.A. hotspots – Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica – but it all feels so similar to the older games that it’s hard not to be both disappointed and a little angry that they weren’t able to fulfill the promise of a fully streaming world.

This year’s Tony Hawk is much more story driven than previous incarnations, to the point where you won’t even be able to make your own character in the single-player story mode.  You simply get a choice of one of five characters (all men); whomever you choose will get on the bus headed to L.A. and the grand adventure has begun.  You start out with almost no moves/tricks, they are earned as you progress through the game.  This means that you won’t be able to do a lot of the special tricks you learned from the six previous Tony Hawk titles until much later in the game.

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 best part of this 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 first few levels.  Worse yet, the entire game ends up feeling like one long tutorial, which just shouldn't be the case considering how many of these Tony Hawk games they've released.

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