Games: Ubisoft's Steep offers sub-zero shenanigans that will knock your thermal socks off
MY ONLY brush with winter sports involved decimating my youthful buttocks on the carpet-dry slopes of Craigavon in the 80s, a decade where Toblerone-waving chairlift vogue burned brighter than its day-glo fashions.
Of course, in the virtual world we've all since hurtled down the white stuff with the incredible SSX games, but there's been a distinct lack of sub-zero shenanigans on the videogame front for a while.
Steep is SSX for the GoPro generation, where tricked out dudes and dudettes can once again carve up frozen water in search of big air. An open-world extreme winter sports sim, Steep lets thrill-seekers loose on the Alps in four disciplines. Paragliding and skiing are the weakest, with the latter's sexy cousin, snowboarding, and wingsuit flying, the most fully realised and where you'll spend most of your time.
Best of all, you can switch between any sport at will, no matter where you are. A game about climbing mountains then finding the best way to get back down, there's no cueing for ski-lifts here, and players can scope out far flung locales with their binoculars and fast-travel to drop zones at the touch of a button, and with absolutely zero loading in between.
While Steep is content to let you chart out your own challenges, there are different modes to sample. Explorer involves a mountainous recce, Bone Collector rewards body-snapping stunts while Freestyler is focused on pulling off the most accurate tricks. And for a spot of surrealism, Mountain Stories are missions where the hills literally talk to you, inviting players to complete trippy challenges.
Of course, you're more than welcome to go off-piste and take on the mountain's come-hither jumps with controls that are smoother than a freshly waxed board. It's also absolutely gorgeous, with acres of powdered scenery porn to take in, while the online component is seamless, allowing quick hook-ups with fellow danger-junkies.
You're also free to relive and share your best runs, filmed with a virtual GoPro. The only yellow snow is that with no tangible goals, those who demand structure may not warm to Steep's breezy pointlessness.
There won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time, but there's plenty on your console with Steep's gorgeous carnival of extreme sports that offers up a winter sandbox that'll knock your thermal socks off.