Developer: Neversoft |
Publisher: Activision
Players: 1+ Player Game |
Genre: Sports

Release Date: 10/18/05

When Alan Gelfand invented the ollie in 1977, he probably didn’t realize just how big skateboarding would become. For decades the sport was widely regarded as an underground sport for punks and street thugs. Over the past few years, skateboarding has burst into the mainstream, and while it still holds true to its punk rock roots, it has evolved into something more (or less depending on your outlook of things). When it’s all said and done though, there’s no denying that it has become an integral part in modern pop culture, and as with all things pop culture, it had to become virtualized by somebody. Luckily Neversoft decided to try their hand at taking skating into the gaming realm and the results have been spectacular.

Sporting the name of legendary pro skater, Tony Hawk, the THPS series brought skateboarding into the homes of millions and did so with unparalleled style and sensibility. However, as with any game series, after so many renditions, things start to become a little stale. Even though the developers added new tricks and tweaked the gameplay with each new game, many players today have become tired of the series. Fortunately, Neversoft hasn’t given up and their new title Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland is looking to pump fresh blood into the veins of the genre they helped create.

First and foremost, it must be said that American Wasteland on the Xbox360 will be a game of nigh biblical proportions. You can skate freely across the entire LA cityscape and not have to wait for a single loading screen, ah the glories of the next-gen platforms. This will make the game experience much more immersive and well, it’s just plain cool in my opinion. No load screens means no stopping your combos, this in turn, means you can rack up some eye-popping scores as you constantly chain one trick into another for miles at a time. Awesome? Survey says, “hell yeah!â€?

For those of you that miss the good old days of the early THPS games, you can rest easy knowing that Neversoft will be including a classic gameplay mode where you can revisit some of your favorite skating grounds from previous games in the series and enjoy the visual facelift. However, if you’re seeking something new, then you’re in for a very big treat. American Wasteland will feature a brand new story mode where you start out as the new kid in LA looking to make a name for yourself. You’ll have to master several tricks and complete various objectives to progress through the story, but at least you won’t be doing it alone. Several mentor-type dudes will be hanging around and they’ll offer you advice when you need it. Plus, you’ll have a girl named Mindy giving you details on where things are going down in the city; it’s always nice to have a girl on the inside.

The story mode allows you to unlock various parts of the city, which once unlocked, will be freely navigable without the tedious load screens you’d expect. Also, you’ll be able to customize your skater’s look by visiting shops and barbers, again without the load times. Once, you’re satisfied with your character, hop on that board and start tearing up the streets, because you’ve got a long road ahead of you.

This time around, Neversoft has finally given Xbox gamers the royal online treatment as Xbox360 owners will finally be able to take the game to a new level with Xbox Live. Various game modes will be supported including the ever-popular HORSE mode and a game where players must hold onto special loot while pulling off combos. Other players must attempt to steal the loot and rack up more points than their competitors; sounds like a good time indeed.

While all those new elements go a long way in redefining the game, the developers didn’t feel content with stopping there. You can expect a host of sick tricks that you haven’t seen in any game before. One-footed grinds, new spins and insane flips will allow your creativity to soar higher than ever as you attempt to pull off bigger and better combos in your quest for respect. Also be on the lookout for more destructible environments. Completing some quests will require you to tear up your surroundings on your path to success. What would skateboarding be without some good old-fashioned mayhem?

With all the new gameplay additions, including the ability to ditch the skateboard and hop on a BMX bike, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland is shaping up to be a great new experience whether you played the old games or not. Right now, there is no confirmed release date, but it should hit retail stores sometime before the end of this year.

This article appeared in the August 2005 Issue of CVGames. You can view this Issue by clicking here.

By Ryan Schaefer – 08/18/05
ESRB Details: Blood, Crude Humor, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence

Screenshots for Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland