Steep lets you seamlessly switch between snow-boarding, skiing, paragliding and wingsuiting your way across the white expanse of the Alps
Anybody who has been playing or following any of the recent Ubisoft titles such as – Watch Dogs series, the Division, Ghost Recon Wildlands – will have noticed that Ubisoft is certainly obsessed about open worlds. Any of you who have played the Burnout Paradise installment of the Burnout series will find themselves on familiar grounds with Steep. On the other hand, even if you’ve played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or similar extreme sport games- any of them – you’ll be at an advantage here too! Well, enough of dwelling in the past. Even we were getting a tad bit bored with the hordes of typical FPSs, RPGs and multitude of me-too games that are released by the dozens, so when the mountains from Ubisoft called, you bet we answered!
Steep starts you off at one of the many drop off locations in the game. It’s main attraction – you can seamlessly switch between snow-boarding, skiing, paragliding and wingsuiting your way across the white expanse of the Alps if you’re at a standstill to begin with. And trust us, that choice matters! While you eventually might feel the snowboarding is the coolest of the four and that para-gliding is a slow, drab excuse for the game’s lack of any faster transport mechanism to undiscovered locations, there are challenges that can only be done in certain sports. And you WILL need that XP to level up and unlock additional drop locations, without which it is a real pain to travel across the landscape. At this point, we should let you know that we played the standard edition of the game. The gold edition comes bundled with the Season Pass DLC, which brings in new sports, night challenges and a lot of digital content to the game.
Talking about leveling up, there is no particular character development mechanism here. Sure, you can do a ton of cosmetic changes – from your wingsuit helmet down to your skiing shoes – but none of those changes will affect your riding even a little bit – unless you’re bothered by a snowman helmet with a twig going right through it.
We’ll admit that the controls are a bit hard to master. And Steep’s focus on realism doesn’t really help with that. Every wrong turn, every missed deceleration will cost you dearly as you realise that even the slightest of bumps at certain speeds can lead to some glorious bone-crunching crashes. Well, at least the game gives you trophies for that!
Now, coming back to the open world mechanism – Steep has its eyes strongly set on the social gaming experience, but gets a few things painstakingly wrong. To begin with, grouping up with a new player that you see in-game requires a PlayStation Plus subscription. We found that out the hard way as one of us had chased another player on skis for almost ten minutes before getting plastered with the big prompt. Also, at no point of time did we see more than 4 players in the same gaming world. That might have been intentional to avoid crowding this beautiful landscape. But beyond this, the social features implemented are pretty nice. You can actually go to the Mountain View (this one’s in the Alps, not California) and check out your previous saved runs and redo them from any point of your choosing! You can even share these runs on social media, save them for redoing later, or even create a new challenge for your friends based on multiple parameters like time, freestyle score and more.
Although, some of the special Mountain story missions do get their own cinematic setting. These mountain stories are actually quite fun to play – with each mountain narrating to you its description upon discovery, in its very own personality. And we’ve done it all – from running over evil snowmen to following a trail of roses on the snow to a frozen lake – and the mountain stories didn’t disappoint.
|Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windos
Price: PC – Standard Edition Rs.1,799; Gold Edition Rs.1,999; Season Pass DLC Rs.499
Xbox – Standard Edition Rs.4,000; Gold Edition Rs.5,350; Season Pass DLC Rs.1,192
PS4 – Standard Edition Rs.3,499
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Developers: Ubisoft Annecy, Ubisoft Montpellier, Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft Kiev
The game certainly kicks off by looking gorgeous, right in your face! From the moment you start the game you are thrown into amazingly beautiful visuals of the Alps, painstakingly recreated (at this point, it would start sounding like Ubisoft built the original Alps themselves) each detail about the mountain range, especially the snow. The snow – oh boy, don’t get us started on that! If this game gets a 10 on something, that would be its snow.
Beyond the snow, almost nothing is even close to accurate – be it the weird ice textures that almost seem hand-drawn to the trees that look ordinarily out of place, All of that would have escaped attention if a couple of bugs weren’t so disturbingly obvious.
In our runs, we would often end up between certain objects, inside other players or even going through something immovable quite inexplicably. On the other hand, we often landed in spots from where it was impossible to recover without going to the last place where the game autosaved your location. Some of the collisions in the game don’t make sense either. Steep leaves you with quite a few of these questions, when it comes to graphics, before it dazzles you with the next glorious summit you just unlocked.
Why does this review have only the above two sections? Because that’s pretty much it about Steep. The game doesn’t offer you anything more and doesn’t pretend that it is. The soundtrack is pretty average and consists of tracks that would fit into any adventure sports setting.
Just like the unabashed product placements in the game (Steep has Red Bull challenges and cinematics), the game itself is quite straightforward with what it offers you – a fun exhilarating way to let go at the end of a long day. While a skill development feature would make it much more relatable and competitive, in the end, true riders only care about the thrill of the ride, don’t they?
|Overall visual treat
4 Player co-op can be a lot of fun
Glitches in game physics and graphics
No skill development
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Crash..boom..crash!!! That's the sound of an extraterrestrial cyborg being knocked down mid flight. He is still not completely functional, and while he fixes himself, you might find him engulfed in humanity's most addictive invention - what you call "gaming". After all, its the only thing that simulates his dimension so well. Please note - Do not engage, not unless you come bearing food.