Since first rolling onto PlayStations in 1999, the Tony Hawk skateboarding titles have lead the way for an entire subgenre of "extreme sports" video gaming. American Wasteland is designed to pull away from the pack, by offering a wide selection of customization choices and bringing its environments to life with new technology. American Wasteland's highest scoring trick is probably its sprawling, freely roamed game world, which is the size of a virtual metropolis, and can be traversed and explored from one end to the other with no breaks or load times.
Set in the "birthplace of skate culture," Los Angeles, CA, American Wasteland features trick-heavy challenges in a Grand Theft Auto-styled urban playground, through which players can travel anywhere and choose from (or ignore!) numerous story- and side-missions they find along the way. For the first time in a Tony Hawk game, players can choose to ride BMX bikes throughout the entire adventure, but there are plenty of new tricks available for veteran boarders as well.
There are two things the gaming industry needs, more Tony Hawk and more cow bells. Well Neversoft has heard that cry and they are doing what they can by bringing us more Tony Hawk. Number seven in the series, Tony Hawk's American Wasteland is being offered for PC and it is a good addition to the series.
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland was built with an open environment. So you will be free to roam around the cityscape as you see fit and you'll be given the opportunity to pick up missions along the way. The free roaming environment coupled with almost unnoticeable load times provides an outstanding experience. The switch between levels, special missions and the explore mode is done very well. This is one area where the PC version really shines over the console version.
In the beginning you are a drifter who has rolled into town with basically nothing. You'll meet up with one of the locals and they will help you get outfitted and begin your journey. This contact also serves as the person who will assign tasks to you to complete. The story is interesting but at times there are long periods between tasks and roaming around can get old. Although to break up the monotony you are given the option of finding bikes throughout the game. Though riding your skateboard is the main focus riding a bike will open up some additional tasks and will allow you to gain some extra cash to advance your skateboarding. You'll need to head back to the start to pick up your board and switch back.
One thing Tony Hawk's American Wasteland does well and terrible at the same time is make the challenges easy. This is good for beginners and small children. This is bad for those of us who expect not to have the game spoon fed to us. Any challenge you're faced with is easily accomplished and finding where to go is not even an issue since the game puts you where you need to be. It is like being led around by a chain and performing tricks when told. This can cause the game's open environment to close up a little bit.
If you want to add a little more challenge to the game, try going online and finding someone to play with. Tony Hawk's American Wasteland will support up to 8 folks but finding them will be hard. The online community is pretty scarce. Don't worry too much because the game does offer some classic mode stuff and a few other game play options that will give you a few options for playing.
Controls on the PC can be a little awkward with the keyboard. I would suggest getting a game pad with analog abilities. The keyboard is near impossible to use effectively and actually distracts you from the game play. A game pad is much more natural and allows you to immerse yourself in the game.
Sound and music is no problem in this series and this game falls right in line. The music is fitting and the voices of the characters are done very well. Sound effects are outstanding. I love the sound of grinding a rail or on the metal bleachers. There is also something soothing about the sound of jumps in the half pipes. Also the background sounds of the city add to the ambience.
Graphically Tony Hawk's American Wasteland is pretty good. The characters are very lively and the colors are sort of cartoonish. There are no significant improvements in this area but the graphics should not disappoint any fan of the series. They will not wow anyone either. The attire selections and board styles are done very well.
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland for PC is the way to go if you are going to buy this game. After playing the PS2 version and waiting endlessly for things to load, this version was a breath of fresh air. The game offered a few hours of fun play. Overall, the game is a little too easy. Gamers looking for a good skateboarding title should definitely look at this one, but keep in mind you'll have your hand held during story mode.
People who downloaded Tony Hawk's American Wasteland have also downloaded:
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, Tony Hawk's Underground 2, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Road Rash, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
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