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November 24, 2005
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
26/10/2005ActivisionNeversoft1-2, 8 MMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
134KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneYes

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Nose grind on the rail.
Even if skateboarding isn't your thing you would have probably looked at the Tony Hawk series at one time or another and wondered if it's really worth all the praise it has received over the years. Indeed the early games on PSOne rocked reviewers and sales charts around the world. But as Greek slave and fable author Aesop famously asked if "familiarity breeds contempt"? By our counts this is 7th Tony Hawk game to appear over as many years, and in recent times it seems that the developers Neversoft have struggled to keep the series fresh. Sure you can add a new spin on the sport, but how many ways can you perform a kick flip? Tony Hawk's American Wasteland once again tries to keep the series fresh. Have they succeeded? Read on...

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Running around on foot.
Gamers will be pleased to hear that unlike last years Tony Hawk's Underground 2 this games missions are firmly focused on skateboarding. When you start the Story mode there are a few missions to improve your looks, but you can consider these more of an introduction to these options. For players of previous titles the game starts a little In terms of skateboarding the developers have included a range of new moves from Bert slides, Natas spins handstands, and one-footed grinds and manuals. While running around on foot some of the new tricks for you to master include wall runs, wall flips, board smacks and board throws.

One of the biggest selling points in Tony Hawk's America Wasteland is that you now have the freedom to explore the entire world without a load screen between new areas or sections. Players now travel around Los Angeles (including famed areas such as Hollywood and East L.A.) and in doing so find the missions, skate areas, and people to interact with. You play as a young rebel skater who makes his way to the mecca of skateboarding where he must prove himself to Tony Hawk, local pros, and legendary skaters and participate in the construction of the ultimate, trick-filled skate park.

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Changing your "digs".
As well as the story mode the developers have (as usual) included a Classic mode which allows you to play the best levels from previous titles in the series. Also available is a creation mode where you can create everything from a skater, to a new trick, to and entire skate park. This isn't too dissimilar to previous games but once again offers some new items and options. PS2 owners with Eye Toy's will be please to hear this can be used while creating a skater. If that wasn't enough we now come to multi-player which pushes the game further again. New to this title is a 2-player co-op mode which allows you to play classic challenges such as collecting all the letters in SKATE and so on. As with the previous couple of Tony Hawk titles this game includes online modes for you to compete against your mates (or unknown people).

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Hollywood inspired Wasteland!
As with previous games it's possible to fully customize your character. The game world is littered with plenty of clothing and skate shops to change what you're riding, and what you're wearing. For a little more fun the game also has tattoo parlors and barbershops so you can splash a bit of ink on your arms, or get that haircut that won't allow you to get a job in the real world!

Certainly one of this games biggest selling points is the inclusion of BMX riding in the game. While there isn't anywhere near as many tricks as the skateboarding sections this is a fantastic new addition and one which can see will expand into either an entirely new spin-off game or (hopefully) a larger part of the Tony Hawk titles in future. With the demise of franchises such as Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX (due to the demise of Acclaim) and Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX (an Activision series that died off) it would be great to see BMX riding become a larger part of games again.

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The new BMX riding
Visually the developers Neversoft have been pushing the PS2 from day one with this series, and yet again they've squeezed a little more out of the system. The amount of detail in the game world is quite surprising given that the game, for the most part, runs as smooth as silk. The range of animations and moves on each of the characters is mind blowing, I'll be damned if I've seen even the majority of moves on offer here. The characters themselves look wonderful and as previously mentioned there is a huge number of customisations on offer.

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Getting high...
The Tony Hawk games have always had very strong audio, primarily due to the fantastic music tracks and this game is no exception with a vast library of punk rock tracks blaring out the speakers. In fact there are well over 50 songs included from bands such as The Doors, Dead Kennedys, Scissor Sisters, Felix da Housecat, Bad Religion and the Circle Jerks among others. As you can imagine a game like this can't have the most exciting sound effects but what's here is done quite well. The audio is topped off with Dolby Pro Logic II support.

This is a great return to form for the Tony Hawk series. After the disappointments of Tony Hawk's Underground 2 it's nice to see the developers bringing the focus of the game back to skateboarding and with the inclusion of BMX riding are also adding in something fresh. All-in-all the series seems to be heading in the right direction again, so if you were disappointed by the last outing it may be time to have another look.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSThe game packs a bit more then previous versions, very good overall.
SOUNDYet again the game is packed full of great music, effects are fine.
GAMEPLAYUltimately this is similar to past titles, BMX riding adds value.
VALUETonnes of tricks, areas to explore and game modes to complete.
OVERALLTony Hawk's American Wasteland is an improvement over the previous title with nice audio and visuals and the addition of BMX riding which some of you will love to bits. Recommended.

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