Tony Hawk's American Wasteland Review
The Tony Hawk series is certainly a prolific franchise, with a new iteration of the skateboarding game seemingly released once a year. To its credit, it often comes up with new twists in gameplay for what is basically the same skateboard trick game. In the case of the latest Tony Hawk game, American Wasteland, you’re cast in the role of a skateboarder from somewhere in the Midwest who heads out to Los Angeles seeking fame and glory ala Tony Hawk himself. You are promptly robbed by the locals but your fortunes soon take a turn for the better when you are befriended by a cool goth-punk kind of girl named Mindy. Mindy shows you around town and provides you with the introductions you need to start working your way into the inner skate circles of LA. Soon you will have a gang of your own and your very own clubhouse of sorts in the Skate Ranch. In a cool touch, you’ll transform the Skate Ranch into a full-scale skate park by snagging things from around town such as fire escapes and other parts off of buildings.
The story mode will have you building your portfolio of skate tricks by learning new tricks from the people that you meet and then attempting to pull them off. Successfully complete the challenge and the trick is now a part of your repertoire. The story mode is a good way to ease players new to the series into the various tricks while providing veterans with a way to learn their way around the city. It would be nice if the story mode lasted a bit longer, but overall I found that it made the game more enjoyable by giving you some context and motivation for pulling off the skate tricks rather than simply working your way through a laundry list of challenges in no particular order.
One of the story mode’s coolest features is that it gives you a virtual version of Los Angeles to skate around in without load screens between the various neighborhoods represented in the game. Well, this is technically the case, but the neighborhoods are separated by long alleyways or by bus rides, so the game does find a way to kill time while loading up the next section of the city. Hollywood, Santa Monica, Downtown LA, East LA, and Beverly Hills are all represented in the game, along with some bonus areas such as skateparks, an oil rig, and a casino. All of the areas include plenty of ramps, rails, and objects for you to make use of to do your tricks and to string them together into combos to score the big points. To round out the gameplay you’ll also be able to get hold of BMX bikes to unleash a whole new staple of bike-based tricks and you’ll even be able to do a few tricks on foot such as wall climbs.