“PDC World Championship Darts” is kind of like that not-so attractive girl who sits at the front of your high school English class. It has a lot of substance, is constantly trying to please, probably harbors a secret love for you, and will do anything to make you happy. Unfortunately, like that not-so attractive girl, it was never that appealing to begin with, making it tough to see the positive things it offers.
Right off the bat, let’s agree about professional darts place in the sporting world. Professional darts is something you expect to see on ESPN 2 at 3:15 in the morning, with nothing else but hour long infomercials to the fill the deep, bottomless pit in your stomach that longs for some sort of nexus to keep it from falling into the abyss. Let’s be honest, professional darts is not that nexus. Lacking the at times heart-pounding excitement of poker, and certainly not as cool as those dudes who cut trees while balancing on boards 30 freakin’ feet in the air, darts is one of those things you never knew had a professional circuit. Well, it does, and whatever that game league consists of, it makes its way into “PDC World Championship Darts”.
Developer Mere Mortals have done a pretty decent job packing a decent amount of content in to this title. With four game modes (Exhibition, Tournament, Career, and Party Games), you’ll certainly have a lot to do, and 16 pros from the circuit make their way into the game. So, if you’re a closet Phil Taylor or Peter Manley fanatic, this is the game for you. Each character model represents a decent likeness to their real life counterparts, and the visuals in the game certainly aren’t terrible. However, after staring at the same animation over and over, and watching the world championship darts hit the same board over and over, the game starts to wear on you. The graphics are by no means the worst part of the game, but they don’t do much to keep your attention for long.
The average visuals in the game could easily be excused, if the audio and music were up to par. They aren’t. The game features commentary from Sid Waddell, and referee audio from Bruce Spendley. Simply put, this is some of the most obnoxious commentating heard in a game since being berated for missing a shot in “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003″. Seriously, if I hear anyone so much as mutter the phrases “140!” or “Confidence, bordering on arrogance” again, I’m liable to go on a rampage. It’s like they sat down, had Sid record four or five things, and placed them with exact precision at points they knew it would cause furious rage. This isn’t to say that the voice in particular is annoying (though after 20 minutes of the exact same thing, he gets to you), but in retrospect, this game is better played with the volume off.
The games actual playability is probably its strongest aspect, and by far the most fun. On the DS, throwing world championship darts works as one would expect, with the player swiping back to build up strength, and flicking forward to control direction and the actual toss. Though initially some might be confused as to how the landing point of your dart is actually determined (after my first few throws, I thought the game decided randomly where my dart would land), you will soon find yourself easing into the process, and competing at a high level in no time. The throwing mechanic works soundly, and when it comes down to it, that’s the point of the game right? Fluff aside, this represents the sport well.
Unfortunately, unlike a top tier sports franchise like Tiger Woods or Madden, the create-a-player option found here is a bit of a joke. You’re allowed to cutomize your jersey color, throwing angle, nationality, name, and style. However, you’re stuck with the visage of one of the 16 pros present in the game. So in all honesty, you never feel like your own person, just the same guy with a different color shirt. It doesn’t add any sense of depth or pride to your game experience, and could have opened up a few more options.
All in all, the game is an oddity. It’s chock full of stuff to do, but no real reason to do any of it. Sure, the dart mechanic is fun, but when the announcers voice repetitive, the customization is minimal, and the graphics are unspectacular, having a decent game mechanic is not enough to justify purchase. While I would certainly recommend this to die-hard fans of professional world championship darts, everyone else should feel free to steer clear of this one.