Steep – Xbox One
Platform: Xbox One
Release Date: December 02, 2016
Nerd Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Reviewed by: BLAST IMMINENT
It’s not often in life one gets a chance to thrash around the majestic scenery of The Swiss Alps and The Alaskan Mountains all in one day, FOR FREE! Ubisoft has given us the opportunity with the recent free weekend of their new extreme sports game, Steep. As an avid SSX fan I jumped at the opportunity to see what this generation consoles could do with the genre. Steep promises much more than it’s legendary predecessor. It advertises a free roam mountain experience, where any peak you can see can be reached. And boasting four extreme ways to get your heart rate up, snowboarding, skiing, paragliding, and wingsuiting. Steep wants to take you to the edge, and push you over, LITERALLY.
Dropping into my first run I felt confident that I would easily master this game, that immediately felt as familiar as the beloved SSX. Cruising down the first tutorial snowboarding run feels smooth. The controls flow with what is happening on screen. Compared to the chaotic button mashing required to keep up a combo in the legend. The rider is forced to manage speed and learn to master jump timing, rotations and grabs. Speed and lines are key because there is now a health bar accompanying the athlete. Every time a landing is harsh or a tree is banged off, the rider losses health. The resulting knock out will send your limp body hurling down the mountain. Screams and groans of agony echoing throughout the mountainside. Until you decided your avatar has had enough and press the button to restart at the beginning of the run.
After completing the tutorial run, the player is instructed that the biggest extreme sports event of the year is going on all around them. A festival of extreme sports competition. The only prize that these athletes covet is notoriety. Now it’s up to the player to decide how to conquer the mountain. And leave their mark on it’s peaks forever. At this point the game opens up. Nothing is off limits. There will be drops that unlock through level progression. Giving the rider a chance to test their medal against other athletes. These give the game some nice pace and progression. Then there are those hidden spots that need to be scouted out with binoculars. Exploring the mountain and challenging yourself to get to a peak is so much fun while feeling isolated and solitary. Meanwhile, taking part in the competitions, there is a sense of family. Because of the difficulty of the game, I liken it to Dark Souls. The community is like a brotherhood.
Skiing and Snowboarding in Steep
Both the snowboarding and skiing aspect of steep are interchangeable. As someone who loosely follows extreme sports but still with a base knowledge of extreme skiing and snowboarding, I appreciated the attempt to bring in players who would prefer to ski. Unfortunately the trick system feels bland and clunky in both skiing and snowboarding. If the riders controller inputs are not perfectly timed the resulting dead air is extremely frustrating. And when it happens multiple times in one run it can be infuriating. Mastery of this game must take extreme patience.
Paragliding in Steep
When you are tired of smashing off trees and mistiming jumps in the ground sports, it’s time to take to the air. Paragliding slows the pace of the game way down. There is a feeling of confusion in this mode. The controls are very difficult to understand and master. It is simple to use the paraglider to get from point A to point B. But mastering the inputs to do tricks and gain score is a very daunting task. The camera never seems to go where directed, and when it does it changes the dynamic of the movement input so much, by the time the rider is starting to recover they will have smashed into the side of a mountain. This mode can be a nice change from the high energy, sensory assault, of the other game modes. Effortlessly floating along the side of the mountain is an opportunity to take in the beauty and to ponder the expanse of the game. Gliding along, one may notice a unmarked peak. The rider is free to shoot over there and bust out the snowboard and get to thrashing. The freedom in this game is one of the most enjoyable features.
Wingsuiting in Steep
To juxtapose paragliding as a sweet respite, that can be extremely frustrating. Wingsuiting is a brutally intense, extremely rewarding game mode. Diving head first off a cliff, there is a rush that few games deliver. Then maneuvering down the mountain, maintaining speed using controlled dives and flares to find the perfect line to blast through tiny gaps. Raising your heart rate, and maximizing your score. This mode feels good all over. The controls are realistic and responsive. There is a real sense of urgency pulling out of a dive at that last second, to get as close to the ground as possible. The heart pumps loudly, in the game and in the players chest. It is a new challenging and fun experience in AAA gaming.
Overall Steep delivers. This nerd scores the game a 8.5 out of 10. I seriously enjoyed exploring my way around the mountains. The set and setting is beautiful. The way the light dances through the trees and you blast down the trail, is amazing. The visual aspects of the game are on point for this generation console. The game modes are diverse, and fun. Challenging the rider to find that perfect line and land that huge trick, in a board event. The isolated feeling of exploring the mountain on foot or via paraglider, makes the mountain seem massive and gives the player a chance to appreciate the visual assets of Steep. And the heart pounding, fast paced action, of wingsuiting events, will have the player jumping over and over again seeking a perfect trajectory to crush that tiny gap. Just proving that it can be done, is reward enough. Footage can also easily be shared with friends and the community to increase notoriety.
Steep is accessible to players of all skill levels. Completing a run, getting the gold, being the top of your friends list, or to getting ranked globally. Truly an open world gaming experience. The player sets the challenge for themselves. Then learns the skills to complete that challenge. There is a significant amount of product placements and micro transactions. If that is something that triggers you, you have been warned. I for one understand that is how such a massive, and impressive game can be sold for $60. If I see this game on sale for 20% off or more I will jump on it.
Do you think Steep will bring out the sleeping giant of EA Sports SSX? Tell us in the comments!
Share This Post