Ubisoft’s Style, while not entirely original in its own right, is new in the context of extreme sports games. Essentially it’s the snowboard edition of watchdogs, The crewor Assassin’s Creedcomplete with all those wonderful Ubisoft quirks that you either love or loathe.
There’s a large open world to explore, with events and activities such as skiing, wingsuit flying, snowboarding and paragliding scattered throughout the Alpine environment, and presented in such a way that you’re free to tackle them in any order you like.
In a way, Style is heavily formal (or at least) Ubisoft-formula). But seeing this familiar form applied to the extreme sports world makes it an interesting game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do any good.
Style starts well. Despite what you might expect, there’s a refreshing lack of cliché “dude-bro” language and frat boy sensibilities to accompany the extreme sports. Style celebrates the daring nature of snowboarders and skiers, without the nonsensical whining that the media often attaches to it. Combined with the wealth of options available thanks to the inclusion of numerous extreme sports, you have a game with an engaging attitude along with the potential for experimentation.
You could focus on snowboarding, memorizing favorite lines and learning how the physics of the board cut through the snow. Or you can decide to become the ultimate flying squirrel by leaping from the highest peaks, dashing down in your wingsuit before landing safely on a soft pile of soft snow. Combining sports is another option, using the paraglider to slow down your descent at the last second to transition seamlessly from wing pack to snowboard.
These moments of freedom are when Style is at its best. Unlike other games from the Ubisoft School of Open-World Design, simply navigating the world is a reward in itself. However, the honeymoon doesn’t last forever. Once the initial meditative calm of discovery and feeling from each sport wears off, you inevitably begin to look for some sort of tangible reward to guide your efforts.
Predefined events fill the gap, track your progress as you play and post scores on leaderboards so you can see how fast you’ve gone down a mountain on a pair of skis against friends. Unfortunately, these events are all too well known. Time trials, races and stunt shows are nothing new and in any case undermine the potential for more complex challenges that the mountains offer.
Taking you to narrowly defined, heavily structured tasks removes the sense of scale and promise Style projects at an early stage. Where free exploration makes you feel like you are working with the mountains to define a new relationship between the sport and them, the events simply and rudely ask you to conquer them.
Yes, unfettered exploration is thin and, yes, Style needs some form of defined goals to challenge you, but presenting them in a way that doesn’t take into account individual tastes, styles and approaches is a big missed opportunity.
Worst of all, you have to level up to unlock new areas and content, which does more to artificially limit the mountains than anything else. It takes so many points to unlock all the tops that you have no choice but to try and complete almost every challenge offered, whether you like it or not. This is a very old-fashioned, very restrictive way of designing a game, and thus there is no way to focus on a specific sport to master, or to find new and interesting ways to combine them. .
Everything from races to wingsuit flights to simply searching for new lines on a mountain has a multiplayer slant. But multiplayer events feel just as forced as the solo editions, and the presence of others battling you for glory doesn’t make it more exciting to go down the mountain against the clock for the umpteenth time. With such a huge area to play in, it would be cliché to say that this is a game with a multiplayer focus, but it isn’t. Having other people around takes away the magic that being alone and exploring the wilderness gives, snowboard and goggles at the ready.
The sense of missed opportunity is made worse by how good the raw feeling of gliding over the snow on your board or skis is. Style does that difficult trick of being both immediately intuitive and advanced enough to get you the hang of something. However, to say it is realistic is a stretch. You can get away with all sorts of awkward positioning and impossible physics feats you couldn’t possibly do, like recovering from fatal landings or skiing over rock faces – which is exactly how it should be. Would push too much realism Style in simulation territory, where the audience is limited to a small handful of masochists.
mechanical, Style does just as well in that air as it does on the surface. The wingsuit, although it performs very differently from snowboards and skis, brings a similar sense of movement. Again, Style not the most realistic approach, but the uniformity between the disciplines makes that Style is easy to learn, so you can start conquering the mountains right away. If only Ubisoft had combined the events with the terrain and the different sports.
As it stands now, if you come to Style Courted by those mind-blowing movies where snowboarders jump out of helicopters and make their own path down, seemingly, whatever mountain they want, then this isn’t the game for you. Style want to make you feel like one of these daring individuals, but the reality is that Ubisoft doesn’t have the development know-how to make taming a digital mountain a good alternative to the real thing, and instead falls back on the proven formula of predictable, simple, match.
The more time you put into getting a sense of freedom in Style, the more you see behind the curtain and the less free you are. When played in short, sharp bursts, Style is a nice distraction. But the closer you get to the heart of the mountain, the less romantic and the less interesting it becomes.
- Huge area to explore
- Impressive, smooth visuals
- Good balance between realism and arcade controls
- Fresh take on extreme sports
- Predictable Events
- Multiplayer does nothing to expand or diversify the game
- Doesn’t take full advantage of his environment or sports
the ugly one
- Microtransactions, while not too obvious, are there to squeeze more money out of you
verdict: Style want to give a sense of freedom, but it lacks the courage to offer real openness and therefore setbacks.