Aside from the obvious skateboarding objectives you’ll have the chance of stepping back into the 80’s and taking a BMX for a spin. The controls immediately change for the worse. The BMX is awkward to control, and adds nothing to the game. The bike moves by pressing the 'A' button, upon loosing the button you'll jump up in the air, combine this with some other button pressing and you'll be able to perform a variety of tricks. If the controls were more consistent with the skateboarding controls then this could have actually been fun.The BMX quests are a side show to the main event and if you don't want to ride one, you don't have to.
Navigating the different parts of L.A is fast and smooth, thanks to the alleyways that adjoin each area. The in-game compass is a handy navigation tool that points you to your next objectives. Rather than moving from mission to mission you’ll be able to choose from different objectives. Head for the dollar sign and take a cash challenge, aim for the BMX sign and take a bike challenge. This does give you a certain amount of freedom within the city, and let’s you decide exactly what you want to do next.
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland lacks the wit of its snowboarding cousin, Amped 3, and the story soon becomes irrelevant; you’ll soon be keen to hit the streets rather then listen to the cardboard cut-out characters rambling on in their stereotypical L.A accents.
If you fancy a good old fashioned bit of Tony Hawk’s pure skateboarding fun, head straight for Classic mode. Classic mode is the way players learned to play the Tony Hawk’s Pro skater games. A two minute timer and a list of ten objectives including high score, Skate letters and combo letters will see you skating through levels from previous classic games. It’s a nostalgic trip for those familiar with the Tony Hawk’s series and a chance for noobs to see what they’ve been missing.
Graphically Tony Hawk's American Wasteland stands alongside some of the average PS2 games. On Xbox 360 you’d expect a shift in the graphical excellence of any game, whether a port or not – this game does not push any graphical boundaries and provides an adequate visual experience. Play the excellent Jet Set Radio Future then play this game on the 360 and you’ll see a significant dip in the quality and polish of the environments. However, you’ll be concentrating so hard on ‘tricking’ and reaching your next objective that the graphics don’t take anything away from the gameplay, it’s just disappointing that more attention wasn’t paid to the 360 version – after all we expect HD quality graphics. There are a few tweaks from the Xbox version, such as hair colours and clothing colours, but nothing that makes you sit up and take notice.
Whilst character animations are cartoony and relatively un-life-like, buildings, neon signs and interiors are generally well constructed but lack the polish and sheen of some Xbox and PS2 games.
Whilst the likes of Amped 3 showcases new artists, Tony Hawk's American Wasteland concentrates on the familiar sounds of some great musical talents. There are over 60 tracks to grind, flip and spin your way to skateboarding infamy, these tracks transcend across different musical genres, including punk, hip hop and current rock.