PDC World Championship Darts 2008 PlayStation 2
Published by: Oxygen Games
Developed by: Mere Mortals
Release Date: Out Now
I haven’t followed darts for years. When Eric Bristow and John Lowe were in their prime I couldn’t get enough of the game. For over a decade or so however, I’ve not really gone out of my way to watch any darts matches. In fact, I've been pretty much the same when it comes to videogames based on darts. One of my favourite games on the Spectrum was 180, the game where you always played the seemingly unerring Jammy Jim in the final. I played the game for hours on end and it was a game I always returned to until the Atari ST and Amiga arrived on the scene. If 180 had any problems it was that it didn’t really pose any sort of challenge until you faced Jammy Jim in the final. PDC World Championship Darts 2008 definitely poses a challenge right from the off however.
In PDC World Championship Darts 2008 you have a choice of four modes. Exhibition allows you to play a one-off game. Tournament mode allows you to create your own custom leagues or knock-out tournaments (up to eight human players can compete in these). Party Games allows you to play an assortment of dart game variations such as Around the Clock, Cricket, Twenty One and Shanghai with up to three other players. The mode that will take up the most of your time is Career. Here you’ll either pick a professional player to play as or you’ll create your own player (male or female) to take through a twenty-season career. Darts enthusiasts will also be pleased to learn that the seasons have been based around the seven major tournaments in the PDC calendar (such as the UK Open, World Championship and US Open).
At first PDC World Championship Darts 2008 can be a rather frustrating game. The controls are fairly easy to learn but mastering them is a different matter entirely. You’ll move an aiming reticle around with the left analogue stick and place it in its desired location. To perform the throw you’ll have to perform an analogue swing with the right analogue stick (in a similar fashion as you would in any recent golf game). On the easiest difficulty setting a gauge is shown, on the lower left of the screen, that helps considerably in lining up a good throw. Without the gauge it’s much more difficult to perform an accurate throw but ultimately it’s more rewarding. It soon becomes obvious however, that the AI is in no mood to be charitable. Even when playing on the lowest difficulty setting I was surprised to see the AI scoring 180’s and high score finishes fairly frequently. Once you’ve got to grips with the game you won’t see this as a problem but when you play your first few games it can be dispiriting to see the AI wipe the floor with you so effortlessly.
In regards to its presentation, PDC World Championship Darts 2008 is a little on the disappointing side. Graphically the game looks about average for a PlayStation 2 title. The custom character creation tools are rather limited and I was disappointed to see that you could only enter seven characters when entering your character’s first and surnames. The character models are a little on the bland side. In fairness though, the character models of the professional players do look close enough. Load times are probably not as good as they could be, although once you’re into a game there are no load times to endure so it’s not much of a problem. Unfortunately there are no subtitles however. The match commentary by Sid Waddell isn’t subtitled and neither are the comments from Bruce Spendley, the match referee. None of these omissions are a major concern and deaf gamers will have no real obstacles to prevent them from enjoying the game. In fact, Waddell’s comments are so repetitive that hearing gamers will soon grow weary of them. When you’re on the verge of a 180 or a checkout, the controller will vibrate to add a little tension and it’s a nice touch. You can disable the vibration if you want to.
Those who are looking for a good darts game to play on their PlayStation 2 will certainly enjoy what PDC World Championship Darts 2008 has to offer. The Career mode alone will keep you happy for months to come. Those looking for a darts game that is immediately accessible could find themselves frustrated with the learning curve. Those expecting any kind of online play will also be disappointed to learn that there isn’t any. Graphically, the game could have been better. Essentially though, PDC World Championship Darts 2008 is a solid darts game that will keep you interested for months to come. The competency of the AI will also ensure that you’ve always got an opponent capable of providing a fierce challenge.