How many Tony Hawks games have we seen? You would have to go right back to August 1999 to see the original Tony Hawks, going by the title Tony Hawks Pro Skater. Since then, we’ve seen Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2, 3 and 4, Tony Hawks Underground and Tony Hawks Underground 2, as well as Tony Hawks Underground 2 remix for the PSP, and American Sk8land for the DS. Now, we’re seeing Tony Hawks American wasteland hit the next-generation era on the Xbox 360. Now, why did I just list all those Tony Hawk (TH) games? Not only am I showing off my ultimate knowledge of everything gaming, but I’m trying to make the point that we have seen A LOT of TH games. So when we see yet another, it really does have to deliver something new and original to the TW universe.
The single player game in Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland consists of two types. You get the choice of either playing in story mode, or classic mode. Story mode sets you with a character (five to choose from) who is basically a wannabe skater. Heading to LA, you set your goals high, but soon realise you’ve got a lot to learn. There is a set storyline to follow, which is quite unique, forcing you to go off, learn new tricks from other skaters and return to show what you’re made of to the big boys in town. For the first time ever, the whole city is one big free-roaming area. No loading times in-between sections offer a great flowing single-player experience. Another great addition to the single player is the fact that you can get off your skate board at any time, and hop straight onto a BMX bike. This adds a nice addition to the game, giving you more to do and learn.
If you prefer the original style of gameplay, that we’ve all come to know and love from the older TH games, then classic mode is for you. As in previous versions, classic mode sets you up in a certain environment, and sets you a number of tasks, such as Collect S-K-A-T-E, get a high score or high combo, collect the secret tape etc. As you progress throughout classic mode, you’ll unlock new skaters, new arenas and new stats. As always, TH:AW offers new and amazing tricks, from manuals to grinds. A lot of them, in all honesty, aren’t possible in real life without breaking your neck or losing your life, but hey, this is a game! Busting awesome tricks as you jump off the top off a roof brings a huge amount of satisfaction, and if you’re good enough, you can pull of some absolutely amazing tricks, but even if you’re an absolute Tony Hawk master, you’ll still find new and interesting tricks to pull. Once you’ve finished bashing away at single player, you can instantly link up to Live and get humiliated by tricksters who pull off 2million point tricks in a matter of minutes.
The soundtrack on TH: AW is great, offering you all sorts of hip-hop, punk and rock tracks from Green Day, Scissor Sisters, and Taking Back Sunday to name a few. Tony Hawks sounds great, but graphically there doesn’t seem to be much of a jump from current-gen to next-gen. In fact, if you’ve got Tony Hawks American Wasteland on the PS2/Xbox, you’ll struggle to find anything different. Everything looks slightly smoother and solid, but nothing mind-blowing.
If you already own Tony Hawks: American Wasteland on current-gen consoles, this game is very hard to recommend. It’s pretty much the same, and even graphically isn’t a huge leap. However, it is a great game. New additions, bone-breaking tricks and exciting Live features make this game the best skater game to date. If you want something enjoyable to play on the 360, and you haven’t got it already on a current gen, American Wasteland is definitely worth a look.