When the Xbox 360 launched in November one of the biggest
gripes about the system was the number of ports of current generation games
being released along side it. While
there were incredible games that took advantage of the system's power, it seemed like there were just as many
that just rehashed what we already had on the original Xbox, only with higher
resolution and better Xbox Live support.
Tony Hawk's American
Wasteland must have been the type of game these people were complaining about.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of American
Wasteland, it's worth noting that this is actually my second time through the
game. When Gaming Nexus needed a review
of the PlayStation 2 version I stepped up, ready to see what Neversoft had in
store for us in their seventh (yes, seventh) installment of the popular
skateboarding franchise. This Xbox 360
version is exactly the same as what I played on the PS2; it's a lazy port of a
game that ultimately disappointed me.
But just because this game is exactly the same (with exactly
the same levels, music, story, and tricks) doesn't mean it's going to run you
the same price. For whatever reason
Activision has decided to charge a full $60 for this port, a game that is not
only short but also incredibly easy. If
you think I had reservations about recommending the game at $50 you can only
imagine the pain I have trying to justify this more expensive Xbox 360 version. But let's not get ahead of ourselves,
American Wasteland is an interesting experience with a lot of good and bad to
talk about, including some lofty promises that fell flat.
When Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland was announced earlier
this year it sounded like the developers were finally going to take the series
in a new direction, we were finally going to experience a sequel that was less
of an expansion pack and really improved the overall experience. Neversoft talked about a fully streaming Los Angeles, one that
offered a huge world to trick off of.
They bragged about the inclusion of the BMX bike, finally allowing you
have some variety in your Tony Hawk experience.
On paper it really looked like this Tony Hawk was going to be the major
step forward we’ve all been waiting for.
Unfortunately these elements didn’t gel together quite like
a lot of people expected. Instead of
feeling like the next step in the Tony Hawk universe I came away feeling it was
a major step backwards. American
Wasteland still offers a lot of the elements that made the older titles so much
fun, but what is added to the mix ends up making this feel like an experiment
gone horribly wrong.
As I mentioned above, the big new improvement to American
Wasteland is the “streaming” Los
Angeles you’re stuck in. When I use a word like “streaming” a lot of
people immediately think of the Grand Theft Auto series, what with their giant
cities that you can go anywhere in. The
idea of being able to trick off of a large, streaming L.A. is pretty exciting; it’s an idea that
should be the center piece of this game.
But this aspect of the game does not quite come as advertised, since you
aren’t really allowed to go anywhere you want at any time.
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