The hype for a new darts game isn’t exactly over flowing however with no competition on the market, it’s easy to see why one might be successful to the masses. The problem with having no direct competition often means the developers become lazy and the end result is a poor to medium game. Can PDC World Championship Darts defy such a statement?
To start with the darts world has grown hugely in recent years mainly due to Sky Sports and their ‘premier league’ set up where the world’s best darts players join in different locations fortnightly to battle out and eventually win the league at Wembley, London. Quite why this premier tournament is not included in the official PDC darts game is beyond me. Premier League disappointment aside the career mode available allows you to choose your favourite darts pro from a wealthy list, or go it alone with a custom created character. The latter really lacks in customisation options in terms of entrance to the oche, emotions on stage and general physical attributes.
Once you’ve chosen which path you want to take you can play in the biggest tournaments on a season-to-season format. Some tournaments require you to be a certain rank within the order of merit, so in some seasons you’ll not be able to enter all the big tournaments like the Ladbrokes World Championship or the Grand Slam of Darts sponsored by ITV Sport. Like reality each tournament is fully licensed and all the branding and sponsorship is how it should be if it was playing out live on television. Unfortunately while the branding is great in some areas, some of the other aspects of the game really let it down.
It’s great that all the tournaments are fully licensed, but there’s so much more the developers could have done to improve the game and make you feel part of the excitement and drama that occurs during a modern day darts match; subtle things like the nine dart finish. On television where a nine dart finish is possible a little gold square with a nine in it appears next to that player’s name. That’s not hard to do nor should it infringe any copyright, especially when the majority of everything else oozes Sky Sports. Then to the other end of the scale are the player’s walk-outs. They are nothing like they are on TV and what would have been much better would be to have the actual walk-outs of the top pros like Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis and of course the darts legend himself, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor. Instead each player appears with the same boring and generic music with a very crowd reaction. Talking about crowd reaction, it’s almost as if they are being forced to cheer in a poor attempt to create some atmosphere. There are no chants or booing and after a while you forget they are actually in the arena.
Thankfully when you actually make it to the oche you can throw some darts, which I suppose is the main point, and most interesting area of the game. The darts throwing action works surprisingly well it must be said considering there’s no use of the Kinect technology yet. Simply aim using the on-screen cursor followed by the combined use of either analogue stick and trigger. This will propel the dart towards the board and if timed right, right into the treble-twenty slot, or which ever number you were aiming for. Each pro throws a dart differently and this is reflected well within the game. After a few throws it’s pretty easy to see that pros style and it’s pretty easy to adapt to their play style.
After a little practice you’ll be throwing in the 180s like The Power himself and while this is great fun, it does make the game pretty easy. Even after turning off assistance I didn’t really find it affected my throw too much and this quickly makes the game repetitive and slightly monotonous; I just can’t see many players playing more than one season even if that. The tournaments take a long time to complete and as the atmosphere is a little dull. Each match becomes more of a chore than an enjoyment and this becomes apparent when you look at the amount of players available to play via Xbox LIVE, even when searching for any game type and any game mode.
What was good though was that when I did get a game, it was actually quite good fun; no lag whatsoever and my opponent was pretty good so it was a case of, “if you don’t get 180 I will”. This created a tense and exciting atmosphere with my opponent. I was beaten in the end but it didn’t matter so much as it was good fun. If you have a friend with the game then LIVE would be a good experience.
If you’re unable to play online or are a little bored of the same old 501 darts, you can jump into party mode with another player. This involves your typical game we all play down the pub ourself, like around-the-clock, halve-it, killer, and twenty one. You can also set up matches to your style by playing 301, 701 and double start as required. It’s quite fun for a while but because the darts are a lot more accurate than real life, it soon becomes a game of whoever throws first, wins.
The visuals within the game are a little poor to say the least. You can tell the bigger pros look like a slimmer version of their real-life selves, but in general all the visuals within the game feel rushed and rough around the edges. The crowds are very generic and robot-like, constantly making the same movements even when you throw a bad dart. More of a little annoyance, but I also noticed that the score announcer doesn’t move his lips when shouting out the scores.
To sum up PDC World Championship Darts doesn’t seem to have improved much over the years which isn’t a great sign when the 2008 game wasn’t well received by the gaming public. I did find the game quite fun but then very quickly found it repetitive and almost chore like. If you’re a fan of darts and gaming then a rental would seem the most sensible option available. Either that or wait until you can pick up the game from the bargain bucket. It’s only a matter of time before it ends up in there.