While a new SSX doesn’t seem forthcoming anytime soon, Ubisoft has their own ideas for extreme snow-sport action.
Steep is the evolved form of the classic EA title. With an Open World to explore, you’ll not only be able to use snowboards to get around, but also skiis, wingsuits, and paragliding.
The difference is that the game places a huge degree of emphasis and focus on its online component. Which is both its greatest failing and strongest asset.
In a positive light, it’s fantastic being able to have a dynamic, responsive, reactive world where your scores and times are recorded into a wider space which friends and perfect strangers can compete against. People you can even bump into and compete against directly. By sharing the same world with everyone else, you can just jump into a race or score-attack at any point without loading screens or slow down, and show off your skills.
Naturally, the more you peel back the layers of this vast world, the more challenges that will be available to you. And there are also tons of hidden secrets scattered around, including races and landmarks which you identify using deep-zoom binoculars. Fortunately, there are a series of Drop Zones which serve as Fast Travel points, making it easier for you to navigate around and get your bearings.
Steep is an unusual game in that there is no right or wrong way to experience the game. You could just explore the world and jump into any competition you see, or decide you’d rather keep playing every activity until you’ve perfected it. Ubisoft has cleverly crafted something that offers so many passages of play that it doesn’t become laborious or feel overly familiar compared to similar titles in the genre.
This is helped by the fact that you can switch between any of the sports activities with a flick of the D-Pad. One minute you can be skiing down vast slopes, the next you could paraglide off a hefty cliff. You can mix up your playstyles to suit your mood and create your own cinematic, action-packed moments merely by traveling around the open plains. And the game does such a great job of capturing these moments with the Go-Pro camera, which lets you watch back the scintillating scenery and perilous performances at any angle. It’s easy to rewind, fast-forward, and even view performance data while sharing screencaps to social media. In that regard, there’s really nothing else like Steep on the market right now.
The one thing Steep doesn’t outpace SSX on, however, is tricks. While these are great fun and nicely implemented, they never match or surpass the finesse of SSX, and inevitably feel like a bit of an afterthought in comparison. In fact, you almost feel like the game would survive without them in the early stages. Only when you approach some of the tougher challenges which rely on your aerial acrobatics and extra boosts of speed do they really start to serve their true purpose. That said, to really get top marks and full gold-plated medals, you’ll need to master the techniques and understand how to dazzle the judges while capitalizing on any momentum. For example, when soaring through the skies on a paraglider it is crucial that you’re evenly distributing your weight in order to stay elevated, and riding the winds using tricks to help nudge you forward.
That said, to really get top marks and full gold-plated medals, you’ll need to master the techniques and understand how to dazzle the judges while capitalizing on any momentum. For example, when soaring through the skies on a paraglider it is crucial that you’re evenly distributing your weight in order to stay elevated, and riding the winds using tricks to help nudge you forward.
There’s also the usual ollies and airplane spins that need to be landed just right in order to give you that extra boost when trying to shave milliseconds off your time. And while they do look mightily impressive while in execution and in completion, it’s missing that degree of self-satisfaction found in other games.it never feels quite as fun to watch.
There’s also some problems in the always-online nature of the game. Meaning, essentially, if the servers are down at any point – and we did experience this during launch week – then a large portion of the game is unplayable. While the game has been stable ever since this is something to be wary of when considering your purchase. That said, you won’t be able to play the multiplayer or co-op modes without the usual console subscription plan.
But Steep has a lot going for it and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world, as well as constantly trying to better myself time and again. Much like Trials, it has such an easy and convenient retry and replay system that’s mapped to a single button press. It’s so easy to just jump into the action and have fun, and the diversity of sports really does create a refreshing brand of entertainment.
While Steep does seem to have come out of nowhere – releasing on store shelves within 6 months of the announcement – in some respects that has hurt the game’s momentum, stifling the chance to build a community. Admittedly, I’d forgotten this was even releasing in 2016 and when you look back at the year of games we had + the titles it was up against, Steep feels like it was left out to dry, seemingly releasing in December because of its relatable climate.
Disregard and ignore this one at your peril, though, as there’s a lot to like about what’s been crafted here, even if it suffers a little from its own ambition.
+ Diversity in activity range with lots of replay value
+ Huge world to explore
+ Stunning graphics
– Community feels thin and this stifles always online component
– Tricks lack desired punch of an SSX
– Feels rushed in places
8 out of 10
Platform review on : – Xbox One