Review by Drunky

Reviewed: 10/24/05

A great skateboarding game, but not very polished.

To be honest Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland is my first Tony Hawk game ever. Didn’t know quite what to expect. It wasn’t quite as good as people lead me to believe, but it is still extremely fun.

Gameplay: There are really 3 types of game modes. Story mode, Classic mode, and Online.

Story mode will take you through the games main storyline. You play as a farm boy skater who moves to Hollywood to ‘skate where it all began’. Bad idea. The minute you get off the bus you get knocked down, beat up, and mugged. Well not to worry, you’re one tough skater (or at least you play as one). You’ll work your way up starting in small challenges among the local skaters, before moving up to the big time. You can earn cash to customize your skater, learn new tricks, and free roam at any time.

The individual areas are fairly small, but there are so many of them the map is extremely expansive. There are a lacking amount of cash earning missions however.

Classic mode is basically levels from previous games with certain objectives like collect letters to spell out words, collect stat boosts or find hidden items and earn high scoring combos. No storyline goes along with it, but it does greatly lengthen the playing time.

Online mode is sadly disappointing, although not technically the games fault. Around launch time when activity is suppose to be the greatest, there are hardly a handful of users playing online. There are several game modes you can play, and you can play in a variety of areas, and compete for better scores, but getting a game underway is extremely difficult. It really cripples the entertainment value when there is no one to play with.

The worst part of the game lies within the glitches. Rather obvious and common ones that should have been fixed before release. These glitches are sometimes fixable, so it doesnt make this game unbearable, however it does get frustruating at times.

Graphics/Sound: Not really a whole lot to say here. The graphics are decent, but not very polished. Some of the skaters look very poorly done, the environment is nice and is very detailed, but up close you’ll encounter several clipping errors. The camera angle doesn’t help much either, often times the sudden change will force you to go in the wrong direction and you’ll end up losing your combo. However with a game this large, the fact that they have no loading screens in the game are a big plus. The sound effects are very nice, you can hear the thwack as you fall flat on your face after a botched trick and the rumbling of your skateboard as you skate along tiled surfaces. The music however is something that would probably appeal to the punk crowd, with songs like Holiday, Institutionalized, and Fat Lip.

Replayability: How long you can enjoy this game depends on how much you like skateboarding games. The story mode itself is fairly long with 94 missions and several difficulty levels that each give their own unlockables upon completion. You also have the ability to free roam, so just finishing the story doesn’t have to end the game. Classic mode gives you several extra missions with new environments not found in the story mode (but have been in past Tony Hawk games). Online mode is nice if you have someone specifically to play with, but you cant hop online and expect the servers to be full of people ready to play with you.

Recommendation: Whether you rent or buy the game really depends on just how big a fan you are of Tony Hawk games, or skateboarding games in general. If you’re a diehard fan you should definitely add this to your collection. You can probably replay this several times on varying difficulty levels plus the classic mode levels. However if you have the time to just sit and play and you don’t enjoy replaying the same missions over and over, you can finish this game within days making renting the better choice. If you’re new to the Tony Hawk line of games, I’d suggest renting it first. The game itself is rather good, but the missions themselves are simple and may not appeal to everyone.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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