Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 5

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 2

Overall: 2


Tony Hawk should be ashamed. He should have thought about signing a contract to a series that would end up like Wasteland. The title is appropriate not because it's tied into the story, but because the game is a wasteland of stupid, unfunny, and irritating challenges. The $60 price doesn't help matters.

tonyhawkwasteland1360.jpg (39986 bytes)It's hard to imagine what the thought process is to sit down and come up with concepts like skating on an oil rig to destroy portions of it. Yes, it all makes sense given the overall goofy nature of the game. It's when these challenges occur in every single forced mission that it begins to wear thin. It's initial humor because of the absurdity wears off in the first few hours of the game.

The story is a simple one, following a group of destructive skaters who dismantle a city piece by piece to use them in the "ultimate skate park." Wasteland is definitely more accessible than what the series was moving towards, makings sure all the needed moves are displayed on screen when the challenges are given. Gamers who have dumped hours into the series will probably be offended by the hand holding and simple nature of this entry. Those who only spent a few minutes before becoming frustrated in previous Hawk titles will rejoice.

Wasteland promised no loading times for its open-ended environment. It's not hard to figure out what's going on even if you have a basic knowledge of game design. Long, bland hallways lead into a new area, and the stuttering of the frame rate is obviously the game beginning to load. The lack of purpose or challenges to the adjoining hallways makes it apparent that they have no purpose other than to load in the background.

Getting off the board to run is a way to compensate for the loose and annoying controls. It's brutally difficult to make any kind of a sudden stop when on the board. Running feels almost exactly the same, and to consider getting off the board a trick is ridiculous. Bikes have also been added to try anything new since the developers at Neversoft have been stripped of any new ideas. The use of the right analog stick for controls is different enough to warrant their inclusion, but the wildly rotating camera means you'll spend most of your time on the skateboard unless required to use something else.

If the story is becoming more absurd than you could imagine (and it will), classic mode takes us back to the first few Tony Hawk titles. The enclosed environments offer basic high score and "find item X" type challenges. Tony Hawk vets will have no problem flying through these five environments.

Online via Xbox Live is fun, especially since the game doesn't begin until the host says it does. You can freely ride around the environments at your leisure until the actual competition starts. It's an enjoyable way to use the chat features provided by Live, which will likely bring more enjoyment than the game itself.

People can complain about the various franchises they need to be retired, but it's hard to make a case for why the Tony Hawk series shouldn't be the first to go. Wasteland is a mess, and the challenges have become stupid to the point where you begin to ask yourself why you bother playing anymore. The final sticking point (the $60 price) makes this a weak attempt at hiding in the launch lineup.


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Last updated: Monday, July 03, 2006 10:36 PM