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Tony Hawk's American Wasteland

The latest Tony Hawk's game gets a lick of next-gen paint

Well, we've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that Xbox 360 has got the support of Activision - one of the world's biggest gaming superpowers - from day one. That's one hell of a stamp of approval. But the bad news is that, in rushing to support Xbox 360's launch, we're getting a simple upgrade of Xbox Tony Hawk's, with zero new features and no Xbox 360- exclusive content.

You can play it in 720p high-defi nition so it looks a bit better than the Xbox game, but if we're being honest, if you were to put the two versions side by side and running on the same low-def old TV we doubt you'd be able to tell the difference. Seriously. Which is a very big shame.


No fl ashy Xbox 360 effects can be picked out at all, and thanks to the way the Xbox and even PlayStation 2 versions of American Wasteland offer superb speed and smoothness, it's no slicker to see in motion than it was on either of the 'lastgeneration' machines. Seriously. This is also quite a big shame.

But happily for extreme sports fans, the game beneath the lacking exterior is a return to form for Tony Hawk's after the rather disappointing Underground games. American Wasteland gives you three main play areas - Career, Classic and Online - with Xbox Live play making a late but welcome appearance. Eight players can now go online, in LA or the Classic parks, playing ranked or unranked matches over 12 game types. It's a great Live game.

The Career game has you skating LA, busting up bits of the environment to take up into the hills and make the world's best skate park. As you do this, new parts of LA open up, with players able to skate between them all in one go - there are no 'levels' so to speak of, just new districts of the city you can skate to, or take the bus.

It's a welcome streamlining of the Tony Hawk's style, leaving a game that's better focused on the good bits - skating, multiplayer and customising your stuff - and less dependent on plot and the comedy antics of its main characters.

All in all, it's a good bit of Tony Hawk. Not exactly groundbreaking and there are very few noticeable play alterations, but it plays well on the Xbox 360 controller thanks to the repositioned Black and White shoulder buttons (the buffers). Plus, the marginally enhanced high-defi nition look just about makes it worth getting in preference to the Xbox version. But if you're after something that really shows off the power of Xbox 360 and makes the new machine work hard, you should look elsewhere. The skating underneath is as good as ever; it's just a shame this can't compete looks-wise with the rest of the Xbox 360 range.

The verdict

Good, but not exactly cutting-edge stuff

Xbox 360
Vicarious Visions