Let’s start with the visuals
I’m gonna repeat now that I am a long time fan of the snowboarding genre on the whole, and with this being the first in a long time I can hardly complain that this isn’t how I ‘like’ to play them. The way the game runs is immaculate… So, yes, it took a little while for me to get used to pulling R2 to jump instead of “x“, but once I did I understood why it had been changed.
The in-game menus are attractive to look at and easy to use. You can switch your mode of transport quickly and without too much trouble (but paragliding can do one; that pissed me off to the point I had to rage quit and come back) and using the various different equipment (walking, skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, and wingsuiting) at your disposal means there is no part of the mountain that is inaccessible, if you’re determined enough.
You start out with one base of operations and using your binoculars you can seek out other dropzones and start-points. This is a fairly cool mechanic which openly promotes exploration and encourages you to go that little bit further to see something new.
But, and this is a big but, the story is an avalanche of shit; it runs in the same vein as Tony Hawk in that you are trying to capture the attention of sponsors and gain fame. Except it doesn’t execute it very well. The only reason I’ve done any of it, in fact, is so that I unlock some of the totally sick items, so I look totally rad as I tear up the slopes.
… This brings me nicely onto my next point:
Steep allows you to choose from 8 characters, but beyond that, your character customisation options are pretty great. You can choose exactly what they wear – from their hats to their salopettes – and unlock more by completing tasks or (because this is a Ubisoft title) spending U-points. Most of my time spent on this game is just looking at the pretty awesome items of clothing and previewing them on my character of choice.
Despite the models under the clothes being one of eight, I genuinely feel like this is a very personal experience. While the clothes and the boards and the methods of transport do indeed help, what makes this game your own is the limitless freedom you appear to have on the slopes. Steep is about as close as I ever want to get to the real thing; I’m too much of a pansy to go throwing myself down a mountain strapped to two planks of wood.
Overall, while I am no snowboarder, I feel like this game stays truer to the real experience. The other, older, games in this genre feel more exaggerated, more caricatured, and less realistic than this installment. You can’t leave leveling out jumps til the last fraction of a second, you can’t jump over a fence from standing… Basically: It doesn’t feel like SSX.
But, is this a bad thing? I don’t think so: it is about time we had a game of this type on our latest consoles and against the seriously beautiful backdrop of the game it wouldn’t feel right to have a Tokyo Megaplex-esque stage, or to be grinding high wires.
Steep isn’t the best or most fun snowboarding game I’ve ever played, but it ends the long cold winter which has plagued this genre.