PDC World Championship Darts Review

When it comes to reviewing sports titles, it’s always nice to be able to review a game based on a sport that you can actually play. With my grandfather having won over a hundred darts trophies up to county level, and my father and mother being no slouches when it comes to marching up to the oche either, I’ve been playing on and off since I was a wee lad. I’m no pro, and I don’t follow the sport as religiously as some, but I’m confident enough to say that I know my stuff when it comes to the old ‘arrers.

And this is why I was really looking forward to the first Wii title with the official PDC licence a few years back, and jointly why I was so disappointed when the control system was so awful. Another version has come and gone since with little improvement, but this new edition gave me fresh hope. The accuracy of the Move controller would surely be put to better use this time around, wouldn’t they?

Thankfully, I’m not to be disappointed again, as PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour WORKS…generally. Getting used to the initial method of holding the Motion Controller will take a few minutes, but once you’ve got it, the whole process couldn’t be simpler. You hold the controller as if it’s one of your tungsten rockets, and take aim. Then, you press and holds the Move button to lock that aim, and perform a throwing action, letting go of the Move button at the desired point of release in order to throw. A couple of different assistance levels are available to ease you into the action and – unfortunately – graduating through those levels seem to reveal a few flaws. Initially, whilst playing in multiplayer against a friend, we both played with the maximum throwing assistance on and all was well. The only thing letting us down once we had lined up our shot was the power of the throw and each and every time, it was user error causing the problem. This is fine, and how things should be. I took on a single player career later on, and came back from 5-1 down to beat world number 33 Michael van Gerwen 6-5, after getting used to things again. Then, I switched to “Minimum” assistance, and the problems began.

Playing against Peter Manley in the next round, every single shot was going to the right. So much so, in fact, that I could only hit a treble 20 by aiming at the wire on the left hand side of treble 5. Thinking this was a calibration issue, I recalibrated several times and the same thing kept on occurring. I changed my stance to no avail. I moved the PlayStation Eye to the top of my TV and changed the related setting in the game’s menu, with no joy. I tried throwing way, way, way out to the left when performing the actual throwing motion and the same thing was happening each and every time. After being beaten 9-1 by Manley, I switched over to unassisted mode, just in case there was a problem with the minimal shot assistance setting. Again, every single one my shots went right, never by less than half a board segment. As much as it pains me to say it, I’m as sure as I can be that this is a problem with the game itself, and I only hope that a patch fixes it.

The reason I hope that a patch fixes it, is because when playing with full shot assistance on, PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour is cracking fun. You’ll be playing against the likes of the and Phil “The Power” Taylor, popular Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld and the aforementioned Peter Manley, in arenas decked out with the full sponsorship kit and a half-decent attempt at a representation of the big match atmosphere. I say half-decent, as with the default settings, the crowd seem a little bit weak, and the scorer doesn’t get anything like the sort of volume you’d expect him to. When you hit a maximum, or throw that match-winning dart, you want the crowd to boom into life and the scorer to blast your ears off with a chant of “GAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaamme SHOT and the second leg!” That doesn’t happen as well as it could, although you can improve things a little by tweaking the settings.

Generally, you’ll find the crowd and scorer are overpowered by the inane banter of the commentating legend that is Mr. Sidney Waddell, anyway. The man comes up with some corkers. “Once upon a time he was breaking records, but now he’s only breaking his heart. Nothing he can do…total eclipse of the dart!” had the whole room roaring with laughter for example but as with all comedy, it starts to grate after the ninth or tenth time. Unfortunately for Sid, it sounds as if he’s been in the studio for about 25 minutes recording the lines on offer, as they’re massively repetitive from the get-go, and if I hear the phrase “snitchy, snatchy dart!” one more time, you’ll probably find me rocking backwards and forwards whilst holding my knees, in a padded room.

But, that doesn’t take away all of PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour’s charm. If you watch the sport on TV, or play it at your local pub or pool hall, you’re sure to have a good bit of fun here. It isn’t hard to see that there’s a fair amount of attention to detail that true darts fans will absolutely lap up. From being able to build your own custom darts using flights from one manufacturer, barrels from another and arrows from a third, to reaching your first tournament final, there’s plenty on offer. Some will be thrown by the way that the game fails to compensate for your PlayStation Eye being placed below the TV, as to aim at the top of the board, you need to point your Motion Controller at the top of the Eye lens. That doesn’t feel right, as you should be aiming slightly upwards to hit that double top, not downwards. Again, it’s an annoyance, but not one that breaks the game entirely.

Pro Tour is good fun, but I don’t think it’s too harsh to say that in this world of FIFA 11 and F1 2010, there’s a comparatively high level of unpolished edges and general clumsiness on display here. But, that fun outweighs the problems for the greater part – as long as you play in fully-assisted mode, for reasons I’ve explained above – and the game is a solid starting point for future versions. Fans of the sport will be in clover, although with Sony’s own Top Darts heading to the PlayStation Network shortly, it remains to be seen as to whether PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour can hold its own.

Review contributed by: Ken Barnes

Steven Monster

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