Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
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|Tony Hawk's American Wasteland|
|Release||PlayStation 2, Xbox & GameCube
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland is a sports video game that was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube on October 18, 2005 in North America and October 28, 2005 in Europe. An Xbox 360 version was released a month later on November 22, 2005 in North America and December 2, 2005 in Europe and a Microsoft Windows port was issued on February 6, 2006 in North America and April 7, 2006 in Europe.
The PC version of the game was ported and published by Aspyr. American Wasteland is the first Tony Hawk's game to support Xbox Live; online play was previously limited to the PlayStation 2 and PC. The Nintendo DS/Game Boy Advance version of this game, American Sk8land, features Wi-Fi capabilities. It was the first third-party DS game to have online support.
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American Wasteland is the first game in the Tony Hawk's franchise that advertised and allowed the possibility for players to play in one vast level via story mode, which actually seamlessly connects a number of levels without loading times in between, along with also being the first game in the series that allows to freely commandeer stray bicycles and perform freestyle BMX techniques with it similar to the skateboard. In the September 2005 edition of Game Informer, a map was shown displaying American Wasteland's Los Angeles with an insert of an overhead view of the Boston stage from Underground 2 for comparison. The Boston level appeared to be about three quarters the size of one American Wasteland area, with the exception of the "Vans Skatepark" and "Casino" areas.
The game begins with the skater (one of five chosen pre-designed male skaters) boarding a bus to Los Angeles, hoping to get away from his friends and family who have mistreated him. Upon arrival in Hollywood, skateboarding punks steal the player's bag. He meets a local skateboarding enthusiast named Mindy, who helps him change his look and improve his skills, and he reclaims his bag. The player learns Mindy is an artist working on her own skating zine, named American Wasteland, and of an awesome skate park called the "Skate Ranch". Mindy agrees to show it to him, and after clearing up a protest blocking their way, they head to the ranch in Beverly Hills.
There, the player meets Mindy's skater friends: Boone, Useless Dave, and Murphy, and after proving his skills is let in. He meets the leader of the group, Iggy VanZant, a rough type who isn't fond of outsiders. Iggy allows the player to crash at the ranch after he helps finish his half-pipe. Its completion spurs the group to do the ranch up and make it a full-on skatepark. With the help of Murphy's contacts, the group embark on obtaining skate-able pieces from all over L.A.
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, but exposes Iggy who, unknown to the player, is wanted and has been living in secrecy to avoid the police. Iggy is soon arrested. Mindy suggests asking Iggy's old friends the Z-Boys for help. 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 filled in many years ago. He decides to have it dug up and befriends Alva's friend Mega, who offers to help.
While Mega digs up Green Pipes Point, the player rescues Boone from his old street gang. After some time, the player gets a phone call from Iggy in jail. He is furious upon hearing the point has been dug up, as he doesn't own the land. The publicity causes the real owner to discover the ranch and makes plans to sell it. Iggy returns to the now locked up skate ranch enraged, the player apologizing to no avail. Their tempers flair and Iggy punches the player who then snaps at Mindy, causing her to storm off.
The player, Murphy, Dave and Boone start a project to save the ranch, by making a skate video featuring famous pros, with all the proceeds going to buying the ranch. The player rounds up many pros, including pro BMX rider Mat Hoffman. Iggy reconciles with the player and assures him that Mindy will recover. The group trashes a vacant casino to finish the park and top off the buzz for the video, earning enough to buy the park. Leaving the casino they are met by the police. The player manages to evade them, skating through the city back to the ranch.
The player arrives to the completed American Wasteland, which Iggy now owns. To celebrate, he throws a party at the ranch, with everyone in town invited. The player apologizes to Mindy, who accepts and shows off the first edition of her magazine, American Wasteland, with the player on the cover. Iggy tells her that the player helped publish it, she is flattered and the two kiss.
The game received generally positive reviews, with the general consensus being that the advertisement of Los Angeles being "one big level" as opposed to the previous games' series of levels was a false disappointment, since the "one level" was a series of levels 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." although others have viewed this in a light that showcased the game's hefty amount of possibilities, tricks, and techniques that the player character can perform in comparison to previous games. Many critics also noted the general lack of evolution in the series, although many 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 Neversoft's decision to "go back to its 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".
- Esposito, Trevor. "PlanetTonyHawk: Hawk History". The History Of The Tony Hawk Series.