By Joshua Kodis
Park rats be warned, there are no rails in Steep. Other than the lack of jibs and some product placement that will have you sucking down Red Bulls and shitting GoPros, I’m having a blast playing this game.
When I first played Steep at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany back in August, I hated it. I waited an hour in line to play a super-shitty ten minute demo. There was no tutorial, and the controls were completely different than what I was used to (compared to any other snowboard game). I also had some German chick trying her best to explain stuff to me, but I speak maybe ten words in German, most of which are bad ones. There was also this terrible techno music blasting loud enough to penetrate the shared sweaty headsets and pollute my ear holes. It was just an all-around terrible experience. Having been looking forward to this game for quite a while, I went home from Gamescom highly disappointed. And then in November Ubisoft released an open beta for a few days to try the game out. This is when I fell in love with this game. Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, yeah, it’s that sexy?
Today was release day for Steep. After playing the game some more this morning, and then sharing my either boring or entertaining Gamescom experience, I’m ready to review this game for you: It’s awesome. You start off going through a short tutorial that runs you through the four different action sports the game offers. This is really what the demo at Gamescom could have used to prevent the crushing of my hopes for a good snowboarding game.
After the tutorial, the controls make sense and feel quite natural. For some odd reason though, they don’t explain how to do different grabs — all it takes is a trigger button and a move of the right analog in whatever direction for the desired grab/tweak. Now before all you elitists out there start whining about skiing being an option in the game, fear not, you are never forced to ski if you don’t want to. I think it was a smart feature to throw skiing into the game though. Not only will the game simply appeal to a wider audience, but this will also benefit the players since it is an online game at all times. The more people who play, the more people you’ll see bombing down runs with you. It makes the game feel more real, like there is an actual human presence in the world created for the game, but I am glad they left out lift lines. Plus, you’ll also be able to compete against those dicks on sticks if that’s more your thing.
You can also choose a wing suit, which you guessed it, allows you to fly down the slopes at high speeds dodging trees, power lines, and rocks. The last sport is paragliding. At first, this was my least favorite until I figured out the stunt button and how to score points by swooping close into cliffs without killing your character. And yes, you can die in this game. It’s a nice feature and keeps the game more realistic. If you plan your line poorly and launch off a massive cliff, you’re going to die.
Steep is without a doubt, the best looking snowboarding game ever made. The snow especially has had noticeable work put into it. How it reacts to your character, wind, and light. I acts like real snow. Being immature, I tried walking around leaving footprints with hopes to mark the hill with a snow cock in front of some other players, but they must have foreseen this threat and put a limit of footprints before older ones start to fade away.
The characters in the game are pretty customizable with different boards and clothing and the option to add other things like, yes, a GoPro. The best thing about the characters though, is how they react to the world. They’ll fumble and recover, scream when plunging off a cliff, claim banger tricks, or shout out “Oh shit” when doing arm flaps through the air. That last one had me sold on the realism of the game, because I yell out “Oh shit” while riding all the time. The world pretty much allows you to explore where ever you want to and even rewards you for doing so. Even though there are no rails in the game, which I don’t fully understand why they were left out, there is still plenty of natural features as well as some added park runs loaded with jumps to hit.
For me, Steep is the greatest snowboarding game to come out in many years. With its handcrafted slopes that provide countless detailed runs and providing different ways to come down from the summit, Steep will keep you stoked until it’s time to go riding for reals.