upon the THUG and THUG 2 schematic, THAW is another
step in the right direction for the series.
by Vaughn Smith
20 , 2005 - The
Tony Hawk Pro Skater series debuted in 1999 and with
each subsequent year Neversoft has released a new
installment. In essence Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
(THAW) is really Tony Hawk 7, but Neversoft made the
decision a few years ago to evolve the franchise and
make it fresh, exciting and new. The Underground games
were a dramatic departure from the linear environments
and lack of any real personality found within THPS
1 - 4, featuring a storyline that attempted to capture
the skate culture. Neversoft has been busy further
retooling the series, tightening up the aspects that
worked and removing those that didn't, and the result
is a more cohesive and involving gameplay experience.
should preface this review with the statement that
I haven't been all that impressed with the Tony Hawk
series as of late with the exception of THUG. Back
in the early days of the series I looked forward to
the arrival of the new games. Then around THPS3 I
felt that perhaps the one year window of development
time just didn't seem to be enough and the series,
in my opinion, was running out of creative steam.
When the series moved to the next gen consoles (PS2,
Xbox, GC) I felt that it was still cemented in old
generation design and didn't take enough advantage
of the hardware advancements. THUG managed to teach
an old dog some awesome new tricks, while THUG 2 was
such a radical departure that I felt I was playing
BMX XXX II. Truth be told I wasn't even wanting to
review THAW, but everyone else was busy so I had no
choice. I'm sure you're not used to such honesty in
reviews but that's the big bold truth. I loaded the
game into my 360 and sighed "Here we go again...."
I lamented to no one in particular. Then to my surprise
I found myself enjoying the events involving my characters
arrival in L.A. and it just mushroomed from there.
I was like Dicken's Scrooge born anew, bursting open
the window shutters on Christmas morn:
You there! What game is this?
urchin: It's Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, sir.
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland for all!
I would only tell you to buy THAW for the Xbox 360
if you A) own an Xbox 360 (that should be obvious!)
B) haven't played it for the current gen systems.
If you have already played it on the Xbox, GameCube
or PS2 you won't find anything new besides some enhanced
lighting, textures and resolution. Other than those
factors, the Xbox 360 is identical to the current
THPS and THUG games have always provided a healthy
dose of challenge and considering the fan base the
series has attracted, I was surprised to discover
that the objectives in THAW were on the easy end of
the difficulty factor. Veterans need only apply at
the hardest difficulty level to wring any challenge
out of the game, while noobs to the series might even
find the Easy mode too easy at times. Of course, playing
online against other skaters always requires you to
perform at peak capacity and therefore provides a
healthy dose of challenge, but the offline career
mode could and should definitely be considered a cakewalk
on the lower difficulty settings.
THAW probably won't impress 'graphic whores' (love
that term) as the game sports the same polygon count
and models as found on the current gen systems. There
are some visual enhancements such as the lighting
and textures, but for the most part the high res gloss
shines a spotlight on the visual defects - especially
of some of less attractive character models - since
the game was developed for the current gen systems.
The LA environment which I thought was supposed to
be one wide open level happens to be several areas
cleverly disguised by connecting points. Vehicles
can be located which will transport you from one area
to another quickly (such as a bus and truck) and you
will have to endure a little animation while the game
loads the selected destination. In the usual Tony
Hawk fashion, virtual areas of LA are easily recognized
by the various landmarks tossed in to get your attention.
You'll skate various LA locations such as downtown
L.A., Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica (where
Activision is located in the real world) and be able
to practice your skills at ingame legend skater Iggy
Van Zant's secluded Ranch and the Van's skate park.
story progresses via cutscenes and I have to admit
that I was pretty smitten with fictional character
Mindy and her American Wasteland comic book which
pays homage both in artistic style and name to New
York underground artist Harvey Pekar and his book
American Splendor (with a nod to R. Crumb of course).
Surprisingly there is a lot less of Mr. Hawk then
you'd expect in a game that has his name on the cover,
but when he does make an appearance it makes sense
in the context of the story.
of your character is handled by visiting various shops
to buy new threads or change your haircut. I always
find it funny that you can go into a barber shop cleanshaven
and bald in games like this and walk out with a set
of muttonchops and cornrows, but such as the limitless
imagination of video games. You won't have as much
control over facial features but pretty much everything
else is up for grabs. Customization even carries over
into gameplay as you are free to customize your own
"tags" and spray them around LA.
ingame music is a wrapped around an obvious product
placement of Sirius Satellite Radio which is hoping
to make some big inroads this holiday season against
competitor XM Satallite Radio. THAW features a ton
of great music, some of which I loved, some of which
I hated and some I was indifferent to. Considering
I'm an old fart, that's pretty good. Thank God skateboarders
appreciate the guitar....that's all I'm going to say.
If I have to listen anymore drum and bass bling bling
crap I'm going to freakin' lose it. Okay, now
that's all I'm going to say. The voice actors run
the gamut from good to bad to "Hey, that's Will
Ferrell". At least I'm pretty damn sure that
vagrant that calls your character "skaterat"
is Mr. Ferrell. If not, it's a very authentic soundalike.
The Chinese dude who eventually teaches your character
Special and Focus seems to go from Chinese to a bad
impression of Team America's Kim Jong Il to an Irishman
and back again. At any rate it's supposed to be a
caricature, I'm just not sure if it was supposed to
be a caricature of that many characters at once.
been an Xbox graphics sympathizer over the last few
years but yearning for the control of the far superior
PS2 Dual Shock 2, THAW is like butter on the Xbox
360 controller thanks mainly to the 4 shoulder buttons
on the new deck. Executing insane trick combos finally
feels 100% perfect as everything you need to do is
right at your fingertips. For those among us who haven't
spent a lot of time playing the latest in the series,
Neversoft accomodates novices by introducing new tricks
at a comfortable pace via various objectives handed
out by your skate posse or other colorful characters
hanging out in LA. As in previous games if you blow
a goal, you can easily do it again by pausing the
game and selecting Restart Goal. Longtime fans of
Matt Hoffman might need to wipe a tear from their
eyes as Neversoft gives us the ability to drop the
four small wheels for two large BMX ones. The control
of the bike feels very reminiscent of the Hoffman
games and that's a good thing as it was pretty tight
to begin with. If bikes and boards aren't your style,
you'll be able to run around on two legs to get where
you need to. THAW even allows you to toss your board
in frustration if you bail which, depending on fast
you mash the button, will present you with points
that you can then use to start off a new combo.
vets will definitely enjoy THAW's Classic mode which
features some already classic levels from days gone
by such as Minneapolis, The Mall, Santa Cruz etc.
As you might guess if you're familiar with the THPS
series, the infamous 2 minute time limit will be forever
taunting you to complete the various objectives. A
nice touch in Classic mode is having exactly the same
control and moves over your character as you do in
the American Wasteland portion of the game. You can
get off your board, climb ladders and execute tricks
that weren't available when these levels first appeared
in the original games.
has been refining the online portion of this game
for the last few years...at least on the PS2. Finally
Xbox and X360 owners are allowed in on the action.
Taking THAW online will definitely enhance the overall
play value. As with most online games you'll generally
have to look in the evening for people to play against
as it's a little sparse during the day. THAW features
a plethora of online and multiplayer modes, most of
which have are incredibly entertaining if played with/against
the right people. Multiplayer staples such as Capture
The Flag, King of the Hill and newcomer Pot o' Gold
are great time wasters. If you can't find more than
a handful of online/co-op modes that you absolutely
love to play, than you're extremely hard to please.
as time consuming but just as entertaining and brimming
with play value, THAW's Create modes are not only
intuitive to tinker with, but a great way to share
the love of virtual boarding with your comrades. There
really isn't anything new here but that's nothing
to complain about. Neversoft has also been refining
these modes for years now and it shows.
is sure to please almost everyone who said "WTF?"
when playing THUG 2. The story mode is fun, funny
and yet not absurd enough to wonder what drugs were
abused during development time. As mentioned this
installment will gently ease any players back into
the Tony Hawk series and while there is perhaps a
little too much handholding at times, vets can always
ramp up the difficulty as they see fit. While the
Xbox 360 is the best looking of the bunch, it doesn't
come close to showing off the power of the system
since it's a visually upgraded port from the current
gen systems. If you're playing THAW on the Xbox, GC
or the PS2 you aren't missing out by not having the
"hot system" of 2005. As I see it, Neversoft
has brought the series back from the brink of no return
in this sound and solid piece of game coding. I look
forward to the next one and that's something I haven't
said for quite awhile.
to Ride Forever: No load times. No level-based gameplay.
In American Wasteland you travel throughout the
vast urban terrain of Los Angeles including: Hollywood,
East L.A. and other landmark areas without restrictions
Player Control: More tricks and expanded controls
than ever before! New on the board tricks include
the Bert slides, Natas spins handstands, and one-footed
grinds and manuals. New off the board tricks include
wall runs, wall flips, and charged jumps.
board or Bike: For the first time, you can choose
to ride BMX bikes throughout the entire game, with
all-new physics, a BMX-specific control system and
several BMX-specific goals.
Like Crazy: Enter and explore dozens of shops in-game
to customize your gear and your look! Check out
skate shops, barbershops, tattoo parlors, and clothing
stores as you accomplish goals and earn cash.
Tony Hawks American Wasteland also known as
T.H.U.G 3 and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 7 will be the next
chapter in the long running and no doubt the most
popular extreme sport series ever.
by Neversoft the same company that has given us the
previous 6 outings the game is set to make additional
changes to the tried and tested formula of the series
plus expand on the story themed style of gameplay
first introduced in Tony Hawk Underground.
Hawks American Wasteland which takes place during
the early 1980s will have you playing as a Midwestern
kid who after being fed up with the police, his father
and his unfaithful girlfriend decides to go to Los
Angeles where he hopes to become a famous skater.
Unfortunately when he arrives in L.A he is robbed
of all his belongings and left with only his skateboard.
A local pink haired punk girl, Mindy, takes pity on
you and this is where the story begins. The main object
of the story is to reclaim a precious piece of land,
squatted by an old& famous skater Iggy that has
been built on an abandoned skate park plus build the
same by collecting and stealing pieces of the park.
The park will be huge around 10 city blocks and there
will be 40 pieces that you will need to collect. You
will be able to enhance the park with the pieces that
you collect and also skate in it. On your quest for
these 40 parts you will encounter many pro skaters
like the legendary Tony Alva who will help you out
in your quest.
the previous installments American Wasteland will
feature a plethora of new tricks as well as modifications
of old ones. Modifications of old tricks will include
one footed grinds, Nata spins that can be modified
into one footed and can also be converted into sit
downs and handstands. The previous game introduced
flips and rolls. Now you will be able to do double
flips and rolls. There will also be a pogo board move
and a handstand movie. Besides that you can do charge
jumps, back flips while you are off your board and
you will also be able to run up walls and do wall
flips. This time around graffiti tags can be placed
anywhere in the environment and in different styles
that you will be able to learn during the game. Be
it the ground or a bus etc. You will also be able
to throw your skateboard at people and rail stalls
will let you hop onto rails and stop moving. The list
of new tricks is quite long which will include Bert
Slides and Bert Rolls. These moves are based on Hawaiian
surfer Larry Bertleman's innovative sliding techniques
from the 1970s. A tutorial will be available in the
beginning of the game that will allow you to learn
your tricks some which will be from previous games
and some brand new.
mentioned above the whole game will take place in
L.A. Areas of L.A. that have been confirmed so far
are East LA, Santa Monica, Hollywood, Downtown, and
Beverly Hills. Ofcourse there will be many more areas
in the finish game. The best thing about the game
is that there will be NO load times. Yes thats
correct for the 1st time in the history of the Tony
Hawk series this game will have absolutely no load
times whatsoever thus allowing you to skate from one
end of L.A. to another without any interruptions.
This also means that individual levels will now be
replaced by a large multi-area city. Though in the
beginning youll be restricted to only a few
spots of L.A. the whole city will become available
for skating as you progress in the story mode. Kinda
to GTA: San Andreas American Wasteland will also have
various shops around the city. There will be barbershops,
tattoo parlors, skate shops and clothing stores where
you can purchase items with which you will be able
to customize your skater. Remember all of this will
be inside the city so you wont have quit the
game and exit to the main menu every time you want
to change your clothes, hairstyle etc. But all of
this customization will cost you money.
always goals/missions will be given to you by pedestrians.
Missions will be like those found in the THUG series.
You will complete a few easy ones and then move onto
a big mission that will include several parts that
will have to be completed. In these missions parts
of the landscape will be destructible because you
will have to destroy the landscape in order to open
a new areas, collect skate park pieces and progress.
You will be able to skate in the new area immediately.
Needless to say these missions will be fun, complex
and interactive. Besides these story related missions
there will be dozens of sponsored challenges and NPCs
who will ask you to perform tricks as they call them
out. Also you can skate into cash signs floating around
L.A., which will allow you to earn cash, enter missions,
earn new equipment etc.
the first time ever the Tony Hawk series will feature
BMX bikes. BMX bikes can be found lying all around
L.A. Using a new set of physics and mechanics for
riding bikes controlling bikes will be very different
from skating. While riding you will use the right
analog stick to push your weight around while doing
rolls and flips in the air. Also there will be certain
goals in the game that can only be accomplished while
riding a bike.
rider Rick Thorne will train you and Matt Hoffman
will also make an appearance. Tricks that can be done
on bikes will include flips, grinds and multiple combos.
the Story mode Classic mode will return in this game.
Although it is not known which levels from the old
games will be put in this game it is known for a fact
that these levels will be fully updated with new graphics
new offline co-op mode will enable players to play
the game in split screen and complete goals together.
the above modes online mode will be available on all
platforms except the Gamecube. This game on the PlayStation
2 will feature the face-mapping option found in the
THUG games. It will be Xbox Live compatible for both
the Xbox and Xbox 360. When online, players can play
classic THPS modes like Horse and Elimiskate, while
Combo Mambo enables you to skate for graffiti tags
or points. Another mode, Pot of Gold, (very much like
King of the Hill) will give you a pot of gold, which
you have to hold on to and keep comboing before someone
steals it from you. Upto 8 players will be able to
compete in these modes online.
this game is looking much better than its predecessors.
Besides a better-looking model of your skater the
running, walking and climbing animations are more
fluid and realistic. Pedestrians and by standers are
also better looking this time around plus the areas
also seem larger and better. Goals look much better
and life like too because they were set up with in-engine
cutscenes that were motion-captured. Despite the larger
area in this game it seems to run faster than THUG
2. The cutscenes in the game also look more interesting
because they include artwork from the famous skate
artist Jimbo Philips. This game also uses streaming
technology. Also the game will feature support for
widescreen and progressive display. It is expected
that the Xbox 360 version of Tony Hawk's American
will look better than its current-generation counterparts.
Also, on the 360 it will take advantage of some of
the new features of Xbox, including achievements that
displays some of the things you've accomplished and
leaderboards that will let you know where you stand
in the game.
previous games American Wasteland will feature a huge
licensed soundtrack, which is yet to be announced.
game is currently scheduled to be released on October
18th 2005 on the PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and DS. The
Xbox 360 version will be released later though no
date has been announced yet.
game should give players a skating experience unlike
any theyve ever experienced in the series. This
could be the Tony Hawk you've been waiting for.