PDC World Championship Darts 2008 Xbox 360 Review

PDC World Championship Darts was released on the Wii a few months back and was pounded by journalists for being a fairly quick cash in on the fact that the Wiimote could be used a bit like a dart. It was dull and offered no real reason to play it after you’ve flicked your wrist at the screen and seen a 3D picture of portly Dutchman Raymond Van Barneveld emote depending on how good your score was. It has now been ported over to the Xbox360, with slightly shinier HD graphics and a lack of motion controls. Strap yourself in, boys. It is going to be one of them reviews.

Now – and feel free to call me ignorant if you want – but does darts really need to be converted into a video game? Football, Ice Hockey, Boxing – all of which have had successful conversions from actual sport to entertaining video game – have had the actions of their competitors mapped to the buttons on a controller, allowing you to simulate the sport in question. Darts, however, doesn’t really lend itself to exciting or compelling gaming. In real-life, it is a case of years of practice, accuracy and concentration – not unlike an expert Quake 3 player, for instance – but in video game form, it is a case of flicking a stick.

First of all, you set a target as to where you would like your dart to land. You then pull back the stick to set the strength you will hurl your dart, too much and you’ll go above your previously set location, too little and you’ll, obviously, fall short. You then push the stick straight forward to commence the launch of the dart, with veering slightly to the left or right causing it to deviate in that direction. Sounds fairly straightforward – and it is – but after a few goes you’ll be getting 180s on almost every turn, while the commentator gets far too excited about something so easy in the process.

In order to force some kind of difficulty to the proceedings, when you get down to the vital, final, match-winning shot, the aforementioned target starts to shake a bit, making it a little bit harder to line up your aim. That is, quite literally, ALL the gameplay on offer here. In its defence, darts is hardly the most complex sport on the planet, but at least with the Wii version you can at least pretend you’re throwing something!

Clearly, the target audience here are hardcore darts fans, if indeed such things exist. You can play as a bunch of your favourite darts players in a bunch of famous tournaments, all the while the commentator Steve Waddell babbles over the top of it. It looks and sounds just like a typical evening on Sky Sports, and I’m sure, for those who care, this is quite a boon. However, the very people this game is intended for probably find enough opportunity to actually play in REAL LIFE, with a quick Google search revealing that a pretty nifty looking electronic dartboard is available for a lower price than this game.

For the rest of us, like most darts players, it is a fairly unattractive package. There are only a few game modes – from the obligatory career and exhibition matches, to a party mode which allows you to play some of the more exotic game types of darts with friends. You can also take the game online, but the several attempts this reviewer made to play a match post-release ended in failure, which should give a decent indicator of how alive the community is behind this title.

Most of your time will be taken up by the career mode, where you can play as one of the professionals or create your own from scratch, playing in tournaments and a quest to become the world number one. The create a character mode is fairly slim, allowing you to create a few different looking troglodytes from several skins and a few different haircuts. I ended up making something that highly resembled Roy Orbison, although was probably considerably better at darts than him. Hilariously, there is actually a darts player who shares my name – Andy Hamilton – in this very game, yet the create-a-player mode doesn’t let you use enough characters in the naming section to spell “Hamilton”. For shame.

Ultimately, the biggest problem with PDC World Championship Darts 2008 is there is very little reason for it to exist. Casual gamers who may have been tempted by the Wii version’s gimmick will find nothing here, while fans of the sport will actually find very little to keep them playing for longer than a few hours maximum. For £30, I can’t even recommend this to its targeted audience, and that, dear readers, is a death knell for ANY game.

3/10

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Version tested: Xbox 360

Developer: Oxygen Games

Publisher: Oxygen Games

Genre: Sports