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.
The PS2 outing of PDC Darts uses a much more conventional method of dart throwing, well at least on a videogame level. You use the left analog to aim and the right one to pull back your power meter. This works in theory, and in all honesty should work more effectively than either the Wii or DS versions. In practice however, it really makes for a frustrating experience. There is no sound way to adjust your actual power, thus leaving you throwing the darts well under the desired strength, or worse way over. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the game wasn’t so ridiculously hard. Pros rarely miss their mark, exacerbating the frustration. Out of all three versions of the game, the PS2 iteration was the hardest one to come to grips with, when it easily should have been the most functional.
Visually the game is terrible on all accounts. The blurry nature of the game makes reading some scores harder than it should be, which does factor in due to the fact that you need to know how many points to score in each throw. The character models look alright, but the low resolution really drags down the detail put into them. The crowds suffer the same fate as the other two versions with stiff animation and some blurry textures. Overall this is one of the worst looking PS2 games I have run across in quite some time. 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.
Overall the PlayStation 2 version of PDC World Championship Darts is by far the worst of the bunch. Not only do the controls somehow manage to fail at the simplest of tasks, the visuals are far below even what the system is capable of. There is no reason to pick up this version if you have the option for one of the other two. Again if you have the means go for the Wii iteration, settle for the DS if necessary, but no matter what stay far away from the PS2 version.