Darts is a sport that has not quite taken off in the good old US of A. Instead we think of it as more of a leisure activity, or a bar game. As it stands the sport is actually quite popular in the UK, so much in fact that it is the second most-watched sport on television next to Soccer (football for our overseas readers). Oxygen Games has decided to bring over the hugely popular PDC Darts series to the US for just about every console. The experience ranges depending on which console you choose, but as a whole they all capture the sport surprisingly well.
Amazingly if you are a fan of darts this game comes packed with just about everything you could imagine. There are three main modes, and a slew of customization options that let you tailor the game to your liking. Fans will recognize the familiar faces associated with the game. There are tons of pros to choose from including the game’s spokesman Phil “The Power” Taylor. You can even customize your own dart player with the in-game creator, but be warned options are fairly limited. The party mode allows you to customize the rules to create game types that anyone can enjoy, so if you are not keen on the default rules, it is nice that the game lets you create your own.
The core game revolves around career mode, and it is where you will likely spend the bulk of your time. At first it takes some getting used to aiming and judging the power of dart throws, so it might be best to take a few exhibition games in before tackling this mode. The reason is that the computer AI is absolutely relentless. There are no freebies here, as you will be tested right out of the gate. The career mode also allows you to customize your selected champion to your tailored style of play. The atmosphere is further accented by the voice of Sid Waddell, who commentates every toss with authority.
Controlling the game via the Wii remote can be a challenge at first. You hold the controller just like a real dart, press down the A button, and then go through the motions just like you would in the parlor game. At first it is hard to adjust to the weight of the remote, not to mention I seriously wanted to let it go flying at my expensive HDTV (thank goodness for the wrist strap). There is a power meter in the bottom left corner of the screen that allows you to adjust the velocity of your shots. Once you get the hang of it, it actually becomes quite enjoyable, but when a training mode or better yet a tutorial outside of the loading screen would have been much appreciated.
Visually the game is a mixed bag. The character models look spot on, almost to creepy levels of realism. However, the backgrounds and crowds are a disappointment. They feature blurry textures and some hideously poor animations. When pieced together the game has an odd visual perspicacity to it; everything seems disproportionate to each other. The sounds are actually well done containing music licensed from the tournaments, and the audacity that Sid Waddell brings to the table is enough to get your blood pumping…for dart throwing.
When the cover of a game boasts “With Realistic Throwing Action” you tend to be a by cynical of its purpose. This may look like just another shovelware title among the sea of crap currently floating in the sea known as the Wii library, but it does what it does well. If you are a fan of the televised sport of dart throwing, or even the past-time here in the US, there is plenty here to sink your teeth into. While it certainly won’t win any awards, PDC World Championship Darts is a solid effort in a genre that remains highly untapped.