Steep is a winter sports game where you can snowboard, ski, paraglide and use a wingsuit. Personally, I haven’t played a winter sports game since I used to spend hours on 1080 Snowboarding, perfecting all the awesome tricks. I remember blasting Coolboarders for a little bit, as, well but never fully got into it. I am also a skier… well, I say I am a skier, but I haven’t skied for around 15 years; however I have skied around 7 times. Unlike reality, with this game, you’re greeted by a friendly voice instructing you and explaining how you can play.
For the graphics, while on first sight they look stunning, as they settle in, you realise they’re quite bland. You see a lot of snow and a lot of brown/black rocks, but then that is what you probably would see if you were there skiing or snowboarding. This drew me to my first realisation about the game; this game is all about realism. When you look beyond what is straight in front of you, you’ll notice the background vistas look very sharp. They remind me of when I first found out that I needed glasses – that moment when you put them on and everything finally looks how you thought they only did in dreams. Obviously, this game is well produced and developed so the graphics aren’t buggy, and in the time I played the game I didn’t see any glitches which is quite rare for a sports game.
The problem is – do the graphics do enough for me to really enjoy them? All the pause screens look fresh and are tidy and I was really impressed with the glare you got from the sun. In addition, I love how the sun cleverly moves into different positions throughout the day. Technically, they have massively misunderstood physics, however it does look cool. The mountains look good and so does the protagonist, but I eventualy realised what the biggest problem is: the graphics are just a little boring. I don’t want you to stop reading now, but you will probably see the word “boring” a number of times in this review. Overall, I would give the graphics a 7. I think some people who absolutely love extreme sports will think I have underrated this section, but I never felt that inspired or excited.
Some may just choose to have the sound of the wind whistling as you paraglide through it, or the snow spraying as your skis or snowboard head on at a decent pace. For me, I longed for some music, and it’s not half bad at all. Noticeably my favourite song was Bomfunk MCs and I’m pretty sure that will also be everyone else’s favourite, too. It was also realised the rock playlist was the least rockiest I’ve ever heard. I would have hoped for a couple more “bangers” but was happy enough with exploring new music as well as some good old timers. Overall, the music wasn’t anything spectacular but it did the job and therefore it’s worth a 7.
When it comes to gameplay, earlier, I spoke about Coolboarders and 1080 Snowboarding… but this game is nothing like those. This game is definitely made for the purist. It is not particularly about trying out different tracks and trying to score points although you can play it that way. I feel it’s about the experience; it’s about jumping from a tall mountain in your wingsuit, safely landing and getting on your skis or your snowboard and freestyling down a mountain. Okay, did I say earlier that this game was about realism… damn, I must admit I have found it quite hard to decide the real focus of this game. It seems to me that the developers have focused very hard on ensuring that Steep appeals to the masses; those who just want to race and those who just want to explore.
After a bit of practice, I found myself getting better at tricks and quicker at races, and navigating the map and magically appearing standing at the top of different mountains with my wingsuit in hand. The speed of the game was good and seemed to reflect how I would expect pro snowboarders/skiers etc to travel. The whole idea of the gameplay became a bit messy for me, though, and I just wasn’t sure how the creators wanted me to play it. On the other hand the controls were quite fluid. I used my Xbox Elite controller to remap a couple of the buttons because I didn’t really like jump being the right trigger. Other than that, I found the actual game played quite well. It definitely felt like a winter sports game and pleased me that you couldn’t just jump and do a backflip.
All four of the different modes of transport played quite well, but I found the paragliding the trickiest, overall. What would have been really cool is it the map could have been an open world one where other people playing the game could also be causing mischief and attempting challenges. I will add that you could join certain circuits online and roam on a smaller scale, but sadly, every time I tried to get online there was a connection error. This is seemingly an increasing problem when a new game is released and I decided not to let that affect my perception of the game. Overall, for gameplay I am giving Steep a solid 8.
For enjoyment, there were so many things I liked and so many things that annoyed me. It clearly has a problem with deciding the direction the game is going in and that can frustrate the player. Saying that, there were times where I would sit for hours skiing down the slopes and trying to beat scores. What I am not too sure about is how the game becomes a little too open from the off. I felt it needed more structure and prefer being told what to do and where to go rather than having to make all the decisions myself, and then just doing nothing. While it gave me a faire bit of fun, I don’t find myself in any desperate hurry to continue playing it. I had my time and I’ve filled my boots (with snow), but… it is no 1080 Snowboarding.
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Players: single-player, multiplayer
- HDTV options: up to 1080p
- Sound: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1