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Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

Developer: Neversoft | Publisher: Activision
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 10/18/05 | Genre: Sports

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The seventh title in the popular Extreme Sports series is finally upon us. Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland continues in the new story-telling direction that Neversoft has implemented in the past few versions. This time around they really deliver an excellent story. However, for hardcore fans of the series--this may not be enough.

Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland has been improved visually over any of the previous entries to the franchise. The biggest advancements to the graphics are the fine attention to detail. Pedestrian characters look much more realistic and life-like, story characters actually move around more while waiting to speak with you, and the levels are all very large and detailed. This is seen even more on the Xbox 360. However, the graphics are more like a high-resolution version of the current generation than a pure "next-gen" looking title. In our review of the current generation version of American Wasteland, we really enjoyed the controller of the PS2 but preferred the visuals of the Xbox better. However, the Xbox 360 looks the best and I really am enjoying the new controller.

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Once again the sounds Neversoft uses are great. But if you have played this series before, you are already accustomed to the awesome skating sounds used in the Tony Hawk series. For the music, Neversoft uses a lot of new punk bands that play old punk songs. Personally this genre of music is not my favorite but I found it enjoyable to listen to and fits in great with the style of gameplay. Because there is so much attention to the story this time around--players will find quite a bit of dialogue in American Wasteland. Since all the cast members do a great job with their voices, this should not distract from the game at all. However, one feature that seems odd is that the game displays subtitles even though the default setting is off. And since the subtitles rarely match the dialogue spoken, they are a big distraction.

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The story has you play a skater that arrives in LA with big dreams to become a top skater. However, those dreams are quickly destroyed when a group of thugs grab your gear shortly after arriving in Los Angeles. This leads you to meet Mindy and she helps you get started in your adventure all over LA to live out your dreams. The story isn’t perfect but the presentation has definitely come a long ways from previous entries. Unfortunately, for a seasoned Tony Hawk player, you can expect to speed about five hours to the conclusion of the story mode.

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Once again there is an online multiplayer mode present and you can play several “classicâ€? Tony Hawk levels in the other “two minuteâ€? single player mode. However, these modes don’t do a lot to excite the player who has been playing this series for multiple years. I am not sure if Neversoft is running out of ideas or if they have just mastered the genre. Perhaps a year off will really revitalize this series. As it stands, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland is not a bad game at all. It is a very good title. But if you are a regular player, this version will offer you little more than a weekend of value. Players who have not experienced much of Tony Hawk in the past will absolutely love this game though. My biggest disappointment with the Xbox 360 version is that a lot of players already picked up this version for the Xbox or PS2. There just isn't anything different in here but better graphics. While that is always a bonus, if you have already played or purchased American Wasteland, the Xbox 360 version is probably no better than a rental. If, on the other hand, you have not yet played it or purchased it, then we cautiously approve Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. For now it is the only game of its kind of the platform.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 12/03/05
ESRB Details: Blood, Crude Humor, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence
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Screenshots for Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

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