New Year, new game and a fresh perspective. Rory Cashin, celebrated Irish film and gaming journalist joins GamEir to give you his review of Ubisoft’s latest video game, Steep. Did he soar like an eagle or did he face plant? Read on and find out.
There is such a thing as being TOO realistic. While the idea of going on a snow sports holiday does sound like a great fun, in actual fact, the majority of the time will be spent getting from place to place, testing your frustration levels with patience-snapping niggles and wading through the cold, emotionless albeit very pretty landscape, all for just a few seconds of exhilaration. Yeah, your Instagram account will be decked out with likes, but was it worth it in the end? Probably not, and the same goes with Steep.
The open-world sports game gets points for originality – usually sandboxes are filled with criminals and cops – and practically from the get-go allows you to immerse yourself in the four different types of extreme sports you can play; in descending order of fun you’ve got snowboarding, wingsuit flying, skiing and paragliding. You can play these in first or third person viewpoint, and the game provides a succession of different points within the Alps for you to start each sport, with more unlocking as you win more and more medals in each of the races.
Only snowboarding and skiing awards points for doing tricks, with each of the sports (and how well you do in them) adding XP towards your character to unlock other areas, as well as customisable outfits and equipment, but these don’t upgrade your character in any way beyond the aesthetic.
While the first few hours hold little hope for what the game might have been, it doesn’t take long for the boredom to set it in and there’s very little that can be thought up to budge it out of place. The visuals themselves are quite impressive, but the gameplay and controls are too rigidly set in reality for them to prove to be too much fun. Once you’ve completed a handful of each track of each type of sport, there’s nothing to entice you back into the game.
There are invitations by other players to get involved in championships and leader-boards, but unlike other sports games which can allow the player to evolve thanks to potential upgrades, there is nothing to be gleaned from Steep other than playing the course over and over again until you know every turn, hill and drop to memory. Even the tactile interaction of racing games where you can crash into each other, or soccer games when I dodgy tackle can result in a send-off or the turn of the tide in a match is missing, as the physical interaction between the players here is almost an impossibility.
You can use your binoculars to find new courses, and fast-travel everywhere in necessity as walking through the snow is the gameplay equivalent of watching paint dry, and you can even make your own courses if you wish, but on a fundamental level, Steep just isn’t very fun to play. Stand one centimetre off while taking off in your wing-suit? Face-plant. Take a corner too fast in your skis? You’re going to spend the rest of the race going backwards. Everything tries so hard to be vaguely realistic that it doesn’t manage to be even vaguely entertaining.
Well, it looks like Rory did not enjoy his experience with Steep not to end on a sour note though here’s Eddie the Eagle trying out Steep himself. We all wish Rory had had as much fun.