American Wasteland Review

As a loyal and dedicated fan of the Tony Hawk game series dating back to my Dreamcast days, I must first start by saying, meh. Anyone who has played THUG1 or THUG2 would probably say the same thing. I must admit, this was one of the first games I bought for my 360 because it was a Tony Hawk game, and I do love it, but one can’t always look past the obvious discretions that are right in front of them. The game has too many similarities in graphics and functions to previous titles, but we will get into that a little later.

"I Can See My House From Here"

The Letdown

The game offers 2 different play types: Classic and Story mode. The Classic mode is solid in terms of getting back to what the original Tony Hawk game was all about. Hitting a certain Combo and collecting S.K.A.T.E, to amassing a huge score. Bringing back some of those familiar levels like the Chicago Skate Park and The Mall, don’t ya just love the nostalgia factor? All in all, out of the 6 levels, it’s not half bad. The goals in each level get more and more complicated, as is expected. One downside with the goals was the collection goals. Since when is collecting 5 pieces of road kill a skating function?

Story mode, the “bread and butter” for this title, is decent, and that’s giving it more credit than it’s worth. It is based around a “famous” skate area from the days of yore (LOL) that has been long since forgotten and buried away, Green Pipes Point, which is known throughout the game as the Skate Ranch. Throughout the progression of the story you learn more and more about it, and begin to bring it back and make it better with your own quant additions. From a tyrannosaurus head to a roulette table, there is no limit (there is, but you get the point) to what you can bring back to the ranch to skate on.

Beginning the Story mode, you choose your character, be it a strange looking fellow with an odd sized afro, to a scrawny dude with a striped polo shirt. From there, if you let the cut scene progress, you get jumped and all your gear gets stolen, leaving you with the clothes on your back and your deck. To the streets of Hollywood you go, and where you meet Mindy, who looks like a man mind you, who helps you orient yourself to your new surroundings. She tells you to get a haircut and some new clothes otherwise you just won’t fit in around town.

For the levels/areas of the game, you are pretty much just going through Los Angeles. From Hollywood to East L.A, all the way to the Santa Monica Pier, there are loads of places to tear up the town. In all of these areas you are being thrust into some strange and sometimes outlandish missions. Whether it be Cavemanning from the top of what has to be a Nacho Stand to impress some kids, or spray painting your “tag” over the top of someone else’s to make it into East L.A., you are sure to get a laugh at the mundane and simple nature of these challenges.

"How Emo can you make my hair for $10?"

The only good missions in my opinion are the rally the pro’s challenges. Almost all of these require skill to complete. Triple Heelflips and Kickflips over a flight of stairs take some skill and luck. One of which that really doesn’t is nose stalling on a shopping cart down a tunnel. We all know Bam’s obsession with shopping carts, but I just don’t see the correlation with skateboarding. However, each of these seperate missions require you to know what you are doing. You cannot simply have never played any other game in the series and expect to hit all these on the first go.

Throughout the areas of the game you will find skate shops. Which have “missions” if you will that once you complete each one, your stats will go up depending on what you did. Manual for 10 seconds, you will get a 1 point increase you your manual abilities, hit a 10,000 point air combo and your air abilities increase, etc etc. One thing I found odd was that sometimes you haven’t learned how to do something and yet you need to do it in order to get a stat increase. Say for example one of the new trick additions of the game, the wall flip. You learn this in Beverly Hills, but your first time going to the skate shop in Hollywood; you are supposed to do three wall flips in one combo. You haven’t even completed Hollywood, but you are supposed to have been to Beverly Hills? Just a little off if you ask me.

One thing done right in the story mode is the no loading screens between areas of the city. Between the areas there are one to three “tunnels” that you can skate through to make it to another area. As well as not having to actually skate from area to area, you can just hop on the bus and pick your destination if it is unlocked. All of which makes it easier for you to play the game with less frustration as you don't have to sit and wait for a 30 second loading screen as you bounce from one end of town to the other.

Now, for the true greatness of the game, the Gaps. This will be the most time consuming and frustrating part of the game. All of which are attainable, but man are they difficult in some areas. Some of them are simple, smacking a car with your skateboard, and some of them are outlandish like Hip Transferring up 60 feet. I have to say that getting all the gaps was the best part of this game for me, as there are a lot of them, and the only true replay value of the game lies in them. As said above, some are simple and some are difficult, the gaps are truly the only part of the game that I feel were given some time and effort in thinking them up.

For what you all have been waiting for, the achievements. The game comes with the standard 1000 GS, with 45 achievements, and no DLC (downloadable content). None of which are difficulty based, making it so that even the novice player who has never picked up a single skating game, could get a quick 900 out of. It does have XBOX LIVE achievements, but no one has to be in the room with you for the achievement to unlock, you don’t have to have the high score or win a tag battle. The only time consuming achievement is the 100% complete achievement, which requires you to complete all the Story Mode Goals, all the Classic Mode Goals, and hit every gap in the game.

"I think I can, I think I can.."

So, now that we are through with the grueling task of what could be described as pulling teeth, how does everyone feel? Me personally, I am in agony. I am still in shock as to how mediocre this game was. The lack of originality, the piss poorness that was the story, I just can't imagine anyone truly giving this game more time than is needed for 1000gs. I feel strongly that this title was rushed to market, and not given the proper love and care that it so desperately needed. However, if you are looking for a semi-fast, and relatively easy 1000 gs, then look no further. Let's just hope that in the next installment, the game gives us what we want. And if you say that you want realism from a skateboarding video game, go buy yourself a real skateboard, try to learn what to do, then come back and tell me you want to play like it's realistic. For those of us who love to pull out the impossible, as that's what videogames are for, let's pray to the heavens that the next game shatters all others!

the music played throughout the game is quite nice. Being broadcast from Tony Hawk’s Demolition Radio on Sirius Satellite radio, it’s actually very fitting for the game. Also has some "real life" events broadcasted as you progress.

for being the first TH game to be on a next gen console, the graphics were severely lacking. There wasn’t a noticeable difference from THUG or THUG 2 in graphics.

I give this a 70 because the actual playing of the game is easy, with little to no difficulties. The game tells you what to do to progress. Not to mention that the controls are the same as every other TH game.

Rushed. That is the only way I can see that this game was set up so poorly. I have played every singly TH game released onto major consoles, and I can honestly say that this was the worst one delivery wise. Sure the game is set up to flow smoothly, but the story is boring. The game itself is a walkthrough, being told exactly what to do.

With the not so difficult achievement's, and only 1 that requires actually replaying the game, the achievements could have been given a little more difficulty to make it more interesting. This is for sure on the list for racking up that gamerscore.

With the story mode flaws and non replayability factor, this game loses a lot of points. One can only speculate as to why those of us who are die hard fans were put through such torture. I just hope that this isn’t what we will expect in future games of the series…

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