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Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Annecy
Release Date: Dec. 2, 2016


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Xbox One Review - 'Steep: Road to the Olympics'

by Cody Medellin on April 24, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Ride a massive open world of the Alps and Alaska, where the powder is always fresh and the run never ends.

Buy Steep

The age of the Olympics video game is close to being over. The last semi-realistic one was done for London 2012, and the Mario & Sonic series last dabbled with it in 2016 for Rio. At this rate, only the mobile player would get to experience virtual representations of their favorite events. In a way, this makes Steep: Road to the Olympics a sneak peek of what an Olympics-licensed game would look like for the consoles and PC: Take an existing game and add on the Olympics-related material as DLC.

The game is split into two different areas of focus. The first is the actual Road to the Olympics mode, which has you following one of the eight available nameless characters as they train for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea. In particular, your goal is to become the first freestyle-disciplined snowboarder to win gold in three events during one game: the newly implemented Big Air, Halfpipe and Slopestyle.

The campaign is dotted with lots of video interviews with professional skiers and snowboarders, most of whom were also Olympiads. It lends to a nice documentary-style feel that makes the campaign feel more epic. The bad news is that once the interviews are done, the narrator speaks with very little emotion, and the lack of a name for your player makes it feel too impersonal. It also doesn't help that the same level of indifference is exhibited by the event announcer, so while he'll make some interesting and sometimes dismissive comments about your performance, you'll barely notice them.

One interesting thing you'll note about the campaign is that it takes the time to teach you all about how to snowboard, as if this were the first time you're playing the game. It can feel a bit strange, especially since the main game goes over these same things in more detail, but it's nice for those who have been away from the game for a while. It's also interesting to note that the events you participate in are quite easy if you're familiar with the game's basic mechanics. As a result, the campaign is short but only slightly satisfying. However, it's annoying that you can't simply call on a menu to continue the campaign. The campaign-related events are buried alongside all of the normal events, so if you aren't interested in knocking those out from the beginning, you'll spend your time needlessly trying to locate the continue spot.

The Olympics-related events can also be played outside of the campaign, and they can be challenging. The snowboarding events are easy enough since there are similar events in the main game, but the skiing events are much more strenuous due to the sharp turns, the fast speeds, and the gates that you can't pass. More importantly, each event is more focused, so the downhill race, for example, removes the ability to do tricks in order to focus all of the controls on speed. It's a nice touch, but it means that the series' trademark free exploration can't be done in Korea but is available in Japan.

The thing about Japan is that it isn't just one mountain but a series of smaller mountains that are only accessible via helicopter. The usual slate of challenges per vehicle are here (including a few from the extreme DLC a few months back), but most people will enjoy the fact that the mountains are much different from the ones in the main game. Aside from a frozen-over volcano, the cliffs are much steeper, so jumps give you tons of air to work with. There's also some nice scenery thanks to the temples and cherry blossom trees that populate the area, giving you a reason to take another run just because it looks so gorgeous.

The one knock people will have about this piece of DLC is the price. Coming in at $30, it feels rather pricey considering the smaller size of the mountains and the heavier focus on snowboarding and skiing. People will inevitably compare this to the previous DLC packs, which added more vehicles and associated events. By comparison, Road to the Olympics feels like the costs is associated with the license rather than the amount of content.

If you can stomach the rather high price, Steep: Road to the Olympics is a good addition to those who have yet to tire of the core game. The range of mountains in Japan is fun to go through, while the Olympic events in Korea are different enough from the rest of the title but fit in with the gameplay mechanics. Though the story mode is rather weak in presentation, it's a good refresher for those who have been out of the loop for a while.

Score: 7.0/10

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