Reviews - Updated on April 15, 2022

The traditional winter entertainments of childhood – sledding, skiing, skating, hockey and snowball fights – perhaps hardly anyone was left behind in our snowy land. With age, many are in no hurry to part with the usual fun: snowboarding or skiing are replacing the ice rinks, and instead of small ice slides, there are huge snow-capped peaks of ski resorts.

For those who for some reason can’t actually try their hand at downhill on a board or can’t perform mind-blowing stunts on freestyle tracks, Ubisoft offers Steep, dedicated to a variety of skiing activities, which is an arcade sport in the open world. However, the matter is not limited to skiing alone – it turns out that high in the mountains there are other opportunities for outdoor activities.

As large as the map is, it is also inconvenient. In general, Steep has noticeable problems with the interface.

“Better mountains can only be mountains that you have not yet been to”

The idea of ​​such a game is far from new – climbing higher and then sliding down faster without getting off the couch has been possible since the days of the NES and the first PlayStation. Among the recent projects of this genre, we can recall the indie game released in Steam Early Access on the eve of the Winter Olympics in Sochi under the eloquent name SNOW (even more eloquent is the fact that it is still in beta test).

Ubisoft approached the matter with the usual scope, since there was a solid experience behind it in the form of Shaun White Snowboarding, released in 2008. This scope turned out to be just right – the scale of the world is impressive at first sight. The huge highlands covered with snow are divided into several regions. Each of them has a dozen or two key points needed to start in a particular discipline, many settlements and various secluded places that you need to find on your own.

The scale of the locations does not in the least prevent the world from being very beautiful. Turning the graphic settings to the maximum and choosing a good angle, you can take screenshots that can hardly be distinguished from the real landscapes of some ski resort. Sunrises and sunsets, coniferous thickets and glacial boulders, peaks of mountain peaks and ice of reservoirs – all together makes the game world not only attractive, but also quite realistic. Although, it would seem, why admire the surroundings here, especially when you go down the next track at breathtaking speed? There is no time to look around, but nevertheless, sometimes a remarkable landscape makes you slow down and enjoy the gorgeous views of wildlife.

There is a change in the time of day, and you can change the day to night at any time, if it seemed to you that it would be better to pass this route not under the blinding sun, but in the light of the moon. At night, the mountains do not lose their beauty, but you can’t really meet various snow storms and other weather effects in general, except for a little snowfall and fog.

There is also a lack of wildlife and at least some movement around. The mountains are pristine – there are no animals, no birds, no local residents. All villages are abandoned, and only a few extreme lovers disturb the peace.

A dozen or two attempts to pass just one track is a common thing.

But you can go on a free journey – nothing limits the player in independent exploration of the map. The ability to ride where you want, and not just on pre-prepared routes, of course, captivates. The open world turned out to be really open, and the number of different options for downhill skiing is limited only by your imagination. Considering that skis, snowboarding, wingsuit and paragliding are available from the means of transportation, in addition to their own legs, the monotony of virtual extreme sports definitely does not threaten.

faster than the wind

Of course, no one leaves the player alone with the mountains: even if in Steep you can completely forget about competitions and ride for your own pleasure, it is much more interesting to go through the tracks created by the developers and complete various tests and quests.

There are enough tasks: there are regular competitions for a while, somewhere you need to score the most points for tricks, somewhere you need to go through all the key points on the track. Finding something to your liking is not difficult: the presence of four vehicles and various challenges gives a decent choice. Skiing and snowboarding is downhill and freestyle, wingsuit is fast flights against the clock and the accuracy of passing key points with the risk of crashing into rocks or trees (sometimes the tracks run close to the surface), and paragliding is leisurely travel through air currents. There is also a fun “Bone Collector” mode, in which you have to hit the rocks from a great height to win.

Bots act as rivals, which, as a rule, are not difficult to overtake. Sometimes players appear nearby who are passing the same track – they can send a request to join the group to ride together, but in general you have to compete only with records previously recorded on this task.

There are plenty of places like this on the map. I am glad that they are not marked with annoying icons, but you have to look for them yourself.

It is not so easy to get one of the three medals the first time – it often takes several attempts just to get to the finish line, not to mention some significant results. But the desire to achieve high performance makes you go to the track again and again and remember all the nuances of its passage. The situation is somewhat reminiscent of races in Trackmania, where each track had to be driven several dozen times, bringing their actions to automatism. In Steep, only such perseverance allows you to get the highest award, and it’s scary to look at the world records of some players: until you see the record yourself (and there is such an opportunity here – there is a repeat for each record on each track), you can hardly believe in the honesty of the result.

In addition to tests, there are also quests, each of which allows you to take a little break from conquering sports heights. Such tasks are more suitable for relaxing, admiring the surroundings and getting to know the world better: for example, you need to help a skier shoot a commercial, find a hidden place in the mountains, or simply reach a destination in any way possible.

Extreme level 80

Of course, it was not without “pumping”, implemented somewhat stupidly. Completing tasks, passing tracks, and even ordinary trips or flights bring experience points that allow you to grow in reputation level. This very reputation is needed only to open new areas – a low-level player will simply not be allowed on especially dangerous routes.

Having mastered the controls, you begin to twist tricks no worse than Olympic champions. Nevertheless, the local record holders are still far away.

Also, for the best results in races, we get a currency – you can spend it on buying new equipment or helicopter tickets, which can take you anywhere on the map. Equipment (most items still need to be unlocked by getting medals for certain challenges) is only for beauty – it’s better to ride or fly due to new skis or a wingsuit.

The decision is rather controversial. On the one hand, it’s good that everything depends only on you, but all this variety of costumes, boards and other lotions becomes almost useless. For example, it is difficult for the player to see what kind of sticker on the backpack his own character has, not to mention others. It is unlikely that anyone will be very pleased with the opportunity to change the color of their boots or jackets, attach an ice ax to their belt, and an action camera to a helmet. Of course, there are a couple of items of equipment, the use of which makes at least some sense (like a smoke bomb to create a beautiful trail in the air during flights), but in general, the equipment here turned out to be almost useless.

But the amount of hidden and explicit advertising, which Steep is stuffed to the eyeballs, is impressive. All these stickers with Red Bull logos, competitions and quests under the same sign, GoPro equipment mentioned in the right place and out of place … Ubisoft is clearly not stupid to earn extra money on product placement in addition to the quite serious price of the game itself, the season pass and the possibility of buying in-game currency for real money. However, one cannot but agree that for many virtual thrill-seekers, clothes with “real” logos make what is happening on the screen noticeably more realistic.

There are enough outfits, but, apart from aesthetic pleasure, there is no point in changing clothes.

***

Oddly enough, the developers of Steep managed to sit on two chairs at once – here it is equally interesting to engage in leisurely exploration of the mountains and stubbornly try to surpass world records on the next intricate track. Trips and flights are addictive in earnest – there is no escape from the “I’ll try a couple more times and that’s enough” effect that lasts for hours.

Of course, not everything is so smooth. The music is interrupted after each attempt – it seems to be a trifle, but sometimes it greatly knocks down the mood. It lacks a competitive spirit – it would be noticeably more interesting to compete with the players, and not with the best passing time, as it turns out in most cases. But still, Ubisoft squeezed the maximum out of a rather banal idea.

Pluses: freedom of action; huge open world; many tracks and tests for every taste; beautiful picture.
Cons: lack of a normal competitive mode; not the most convenient camera and interface; poor implementation of musical accompaniment.

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