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STEEP is fun. Hurling down a mountain slope on a snowboard or skies is adrenaline pumping. Jumping off cliffs in a wing-suit is almost meditative in its rhythmic crests and troughs. And parachuting allows for a relaxing descent with a vista to die for. STEEP allows you to enjoy the Alps in a sweet 30 fps on the PS4, and even higher textures on the higher end PCs. The only problem, is that it can get a little repetitive.


Detailed Review

Steep is an online open world extreme sports video game developed by Ubisoft Annecy and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game places a great emphasis on online multiplayer, focusing on competing in various winter sporting challenges with other players online. The game is set in the Alps mountain and features peaks such as Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. The game allows the players to compete in disciplines (in order of how much fun I had with them, staring with the most fun) such as snowboarding, skiing, Wing-suit flying and Paragliding.

(+) Sandbox Switch-a-roo

As a gamer, the first thing that struck me about STEEP was how they had reversed the conventional sandbox structure. Traditionally, most open world games take place in a city or a valley, with beautiful and commanding mountains acting as the edge and boundary of the world. In STEEP however, the mountains, its slopes, its peaks and its snow are your playground, while the valleys and the end of the mountains is where you will run into invisible walls. This little switch-a-roo had me chuckling for a few moments as I went down slopes during my tutorial.

(-) Realism Vs. Fun Vs. Advertising

It was during these tutorials that I was introduced to the 4 basic disciplines that STEEP allows you to partake in. Snowboarding, Skiing, Wing-suit flying and para-gliding. The game allows you to switch between them immediately and doesn’t force you to choose one before you set off on one of your courses. So you can technically start off at a drop point meant for a Wing-suit jump, switch to your skis and just drop dead into the snow below. However the game does not allow you to change disciplines on the fly, so you can’t change to a wing-suit if you have taken a high jump on your snowboard, or to your skis when you are too close to the ground in your wing-suit. In these times, the best thing to do is to let yourself crash and take in as much damage as possible, and try to crack that Bone-collector trophy/achievement.

I believe this is to make the game more realistic, and in that vein you see Go Pro and Red Bull cleverly integrated into a lot of STEEP at various places including the different skins that you can unlock in the game. These unlocked skins only looks different though, and add nothing to gameplay, which makes you think if leveling up for cosmetics makes sense. Then you think about how you can fast travel to the different drop points in the game, and how all the popular Alps peaks are basically neighbors in STEEP and the realism argument crumbles upon itself.

The game also allows for a multiplayer shared world, and you would be able to see and race against other players online, taking the same races as you. However I mostly spent my time, going solo on most events, and my timing rarely coincided with other players. It would have been great to have shadow runs though. Where I could set a time on a course, and invite my friends to beat it, without necessarily being on the global leader-boards. Might have given the game a bit more life.

(+) Need for Speed

I am not an extreme sport fan, so I know very little about the ins and out of the sport. Which perhaps puts me in a better place to judge the game, on how fun it was rather than focusing on how each technicality of each discipline was portrayed in the game (something which hinders me when I play Cricket and Football Simulators). Having said that, the best part of STEEP was when I was hurtling down a slope on my Snowboard making my own line (I know what that term means now, thanks to the rebooted Point Break), and I saw the half abandoned villages swish past me. It was this sensation of speed which hooked me onto STEEP, the feeling that you are actually moving at 2G or 3G speeds created a pseudo adrenaline rush that I find missing in games like these (indeed I found this sensation missing in the other disciplines in the STEEP itself).

(-) Having to choose

This is why I find it surprising that I had to toil through events and courses that I did not enjoy in order to unlock higher drop points. This especially in a game which tag lines itself as ‘Play as you want’ feels restrictive. Indeed it feels like the Zelda dungeons, which you can o through in any order, but you still have to do all of them in order to progress. Something I felt could have been skipped in STEEP.

(+) A polished slope

There is no story to speak of in STEEP, and in that way the game frees you up even more in pursuing the part which you enjoy the most. Plus the game rarely misbehaved on my PS4, ran at a smooth FPS and the white snowy Alps looked gorgeous right from the tip of the mountain to the end of the edge. Also the part where you can actually trace your line in the snow right back upto the top feels like a minute but much appreciated detail.

A lot of music in STEEP is copyrighted. I learned that the hard-way as companies filed in copyright claims on the gameplay video we posted. The tracks though are pretty neat and compliment the pace of the game perfectly. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Ubisoft, whose production values are mostly on point (graphical degradation not withstanding).


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