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Review: Ubisoft brings us action snow sports with Steep

09 Dec 2016

It's been years since we have seen a AAA snowboarding action game. Ubisoft now has us covered by releasing the ambitious Steep.  Action sports video games were made famous first by Tony Hawk. After that, EA joined the bandwagon with its SSX series. Over the years, extreme sports games have been laid dormant. The last snowboarding games I played on consoles were Stoked and Shaun White's Snowboarding.  Steep is similar to the two aforementioned video games, although it offers other disciplines instead of just snowboarding. In Ubisoft's video game, you can Ski, Paraglide and go Wingsuit flying. Another big addition to the game is that you can play in first-person as well as third-person.  Before I talk about the gameplay and visuals of Steep, I have to advise you that Steep is an always online video game. Even if you want to play the game by yourself, you have to be connected online at all times.  I don't understand why Ubisoft needs Steep to be always online. Both Stoked and Shaun White's Snowboarding offered single player and optional online multiplayer modes. The only reason it's annoying is because the servers aren't always up. The game was unplayable on launch day and the servers went down for a couple hours a few days after that.  Aside from the pointless always online aspect, Steep as a game is pretty fun to play. There aren't many extreme sports games out there and it's fun to try something different with all the cookie cutter shooting games flooding the video game market right now.  Steep offers an open-world environment allowing you to travel to many different mountains that have numerous challenges for you to undertake. The more you complete challenges, you will level up that enables you to visit more different locations.  Navigating through the game's map can be challenging as finding new challenges is not very user friendly. You're forced to unlock new challenges yourself by looking through your binoculars or simply dropping onto a mountain and exploring the world yourself.  Forcing the player to find challenges themselves can be a bit annoying as the user interface is not really helpful or friendly at all. My favourite discipline is snowboarding, although it was hard for me to see which challenges offered snowboarding events. Not to mention many areas are off-limits until you have levelled up first.  Thankfully, the visuals and gameplay make Steep a better experience. Snowboarding is fun and intuitive as the controls are mapped to the analogue sticks and triggers. It's enjoyable to just zoom down the mountain at a high speed and getting lots of air doing many cool tricks.  Skiing is also similar to snowboarding and is just as fun to control. The game offers a ton of events that you can do both by yourself or with/against other people online. I played Steep for several hours and I am still unlocking new events.  Wingsuit flying is also awesome to play. It's arguably the hardest discipline because you have to make sure you don't speed too much or you will fall to the ground. Paragliding is my least favourite as those events are slow and sluggish. Gliding on a parachute doesn't pump your adrenaline as much as the other events offered in this game. The last thing I want to point out about Steep is that the game sadly doesn't include real sports stars. Some of my favourite winter extreme sports stars include Shaun White, Kailyn Farrington and Silje Norendal. Sadly, Steep doesn't have any famous stars as you can only choose to play as generic character models that they have created.  Anyway, Steep could have been a better game if the interface was more user-friendly and if the always online requirement was dropped. Deep down, there is a fun extreme sports game here but it's sadly bogged down by poor design choices. I still liked playing the game, but it could have been better.  Verdict: 7.0/10  

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