Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
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|Tony Hawk's American Wasteland|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2, Xbox & GameCube
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, often abbreviated to THAW, is a video game that was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube on October 18, 2005. An Xbox 360 version was released a month later, on the 22nd of November and a Microsoft Windows port was issued on February 6, 2006.
The PC version of the game was ported and published by Aspyr. Tony Hawk's American Wasteland is the first Tony Hawk game to support Xbox Live; online play was previously limited to the PlayStation 2 and PC. The Nintendo DS version of this game, Tony Hawk's American Sk8land, features Wi-Fi capabilities. It is the first third-party DS game to have online support. A Game Boy Advance version of the game was released as well under the same name.
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland is the first game in the Tony Hawk franchise that allowed players to play in one large level without loading times in between, along with also being the first game in the series that allows you to "BMX". In the September 2005 edition of Game Informer, a map was shown displaying THAW's Los Angeles with an insert of an overhead view of the Boston stage from Tony Hawk's Underground 2 for comparison. The Boston level appeared to be about three quarters the size of one THAW area, with the exception of the "Vans Skatepark" and "Casino" areas.
The game features compatibility with the EyeToy USB camera to import the face of the player onto a created skater. The game also features the return of the Classic Mode, which allows the player to complete a series of goals in certain levels within a two-minute time limit. A Collector's Edition was released on the PS2 in which a pair of exclusive Classic Mode levels were made available.
The game begins with the player choosing one of five pre-designed skaters to play with. Upon choosing, the player gets on a bus to Los Angeles, where he meets a blonde-haired girl named Kelly, who says she is going to L.A. to become an actress. He tells her that he is going to get away from friends and family, who have treated him badly. Upon arrival in Hollywood, skateboarding punks steal the player's bag and tell him to go back to "Ken-sucky", Los Angeles being a locals-only scene. Here he meets Mindy, who helps him sort out his clothes and hair, in order to blend in with the locals, and two local skaters, Ian and Duane, who introduce new tricks to him and advance his skills. The player then finds one of the punks who stole his bag and challenges him to a skate off for his bag. The player wins, and takes back his bag, despite the punk attempting to run off with it.
Later, the player sees Mindy drawing and finds out that she is a talented artist. Her sketches are going to be featured in her skating zine, named American Wasteland. However, Mindy hasn't gathered enough money to fund the project yet, but the player assures her it will happen. One of her sketches is a "sick spot that the player would absolutely love," but she tells the player that the spot is exclusive to local skaters. Mindy agrees to get the player access, however the skate park is in Beverly Hills, and the passage to Beverly Hills is blocked by a protest against poor treatment of sheep. The player ends the protest by destroying a huge dinosaur head model that is on top of a movie theatre, which smashes into the protest.
The player and Mindy arrive in Beverly Hills and go to a place called the "Skate Ranch", the place in Mindy's sketchbook. There, he meets Mindy's skater friends: Boone, a bald man who goes for extreme jumps and gaps, but usually bails them; Useless Dave, a short man who is "the encyclopedia of useless skateboarding trivia"; and Murphy, a tall, sarcastic type who has an endless array of contacts and friends all over L.A., and is always on his cell phone. They won't let the skater go into the ranch, unless he can keep up with their skating skills. He learns how to do their performed tricks and then proves himself worthy of going in the ranch.
Gaining their approval, he is let into the ranch, and meets the leader of the group, Iggy VanZant, a very rough type guy who isn't fond of outsiders. He agrees to let him crash at the ranch if he obtains some wood for a half-pipe he is building. When he does, the half-pipe is set up, which spurs the group to do the ranch up and make it a full-on skatepark. With the help of Murphy's contacts, he and the group embark on obtaining skate-able pieces from all over L.A., the first being the destroyed dinosaur head he made earlier on.
From here on in, the overall task is to obtain pieces for the skate ranch, unlocking new places in L.A. Eventually, the player participates in the Tony Hawk AmJam, an amateur skating contest taking place in the Vans Skatepark in Downtown. He wins the AmJam, however, while making a short speech, he tells Tony Hawk that the last trick he performed was taught to him by Iggy, who, unknown to the skater, is living in total secrecy in the ranch, as his crime rate is somewhat extensive. Iggy is soon arrested. Mindy suggests that the skater talks to the Z-Boys, the only other group Iggy has hung out with, about what to do. He meets skating legend Tony Alva, and finds out that Iggy's skate ranch is actually "Green Pipes Point," a legendary snake run that got levelled many years ago. He decides it has to be dug up, and befriends Alva's friend Mega, who runs an oil rig just off Santa Monica.
While Mega is digging up Green Pipes Point, the player rescues Boone after he was kidnapped by his old street gang, the Black Widows, in East L.A.. After some time, the player gets a phone call from Iggy in jail, who explains his bail will be with him shortly and tells him "one day you'll make it up to [him]". The player tells Iggy that he "already did" because of Green Pipes Point, expecting an ecstatic response from Iggy. However, Iggy is furious, because he doesn't own the land, and if the owner finds out about Green Pipes Point, he'll sell it. Iggy threatens violence and hangs up. The ranch is then locked up.
Iggy arrives with a baseball bat, and starts hitting the ranch's gate in rage. The player tries to apologize, but it doesn't matter to Iggy, who believes that the ranch will never be his place thanks to him. In response, the player lashes out at Iggy that if he hadn't spent his time waiting for someone else to solve his problems, the ranch could have been his. Instantly, Iggy drops his bat and punches him in the face, saying that there's "some things [he has] waited too long to do." The player also snaps at Mindy, blaming her because of her suggestion to do up the ranch, and insult her drawings, which deeply offends her and she storms off.
The player, Murphy, Dave and Boone decide to start a project to save the ranch, by making a skate video featuring famous pros, with all the proceeds going to Green Pipes Point. He then rounds up many pros, including pro BMX rider Mat Hoffman. During this time, Iggy reconciles with the player, admitting that he can't just wait for someone to bail him out, and assuring him that Mindy will recover. The group also go to a casino and steal features of it for the skatepark. Eventually, the buzz of the video has become so big that the ranch can be bought simply with the money from the pre-orders. The group leaves the casino, but are confronted with a vast array of police cars and helicopters. The player manages to evade them, skating through the city to get back to the ranch.
When the player arrives at the ranch successfully, everyone is completely overjoyed, with Iggy saying that the ranch is now his, and to celebrate, he is going to throw a party at the ranch, with everyone in town invited. Mindy comes over to the player on the half-pipe, and he apologizes. She accepts the apology, and shows off her first edition of her Magazine, American Wasteland, which she was talking about at the start of the game. The player is on the cover. Iggy comes over and spills the beans that the player was the one who gave her the money to get American Wasteland published. Mindy seems flattered, and the two eventually kiss and presumably become lovers.
At the end of the game, the American Wasteland is complete with various items such as the dug-up snake run, a crane, and the world famous Hollywood sign reading "Wasteland." The player has the respect of all the pro skaters for creating an amazing Skatepark, and Mindy becomes his girlfriend.
The in-game soundtrack is composed of 63 songs. An official soundtrack was released in 2005 that featured all 14 previously unreleased covers that were recorded for the game. The soundtrack reached number 148 on The Billboard Top 200, number 4 on Billboard Top Soundtracks, and number 10 Billboard Top Independent Albums.
The game received generally positive reviews, with the general consensus being that the 'one level' aspect was a let-down since all of the areas were only accessible from one another via bland corridors that simply masked the necessary loading times. Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot took note of how "shocking easy" the game was compared to previous entries in the series, and how "most of the game feels like a tutorial", adding that "the game really seems bent on holding your hand every step of the way." Many critics also noted the general lack of evolution in the series, although many others saw this as a good thing since the original gameplay was so popular to begin with and didn't need unnecessary tampering.
Many critics praised the game on its story. Chris Roper of IGN praised Nerversoft's decision to "go back to it's roots and make a game about skating" as opposed to "the chaos and destruction of the Underground games." Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot stated "the saving grace of the story mode is that the story it tells is actually pretty good. It follows the standard 'ragtag group of misfits' struggles to save the place they call home from evil real estate moguls' plot that drove such classic films as Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo." Adding that "along the way, the characters become a little endearing".