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Darts finally finds a home as a videogame on Wii...
- The Wii Remote makes it almost worthwhile.
- Sid Waddell does his best to make it fun.
- Darts without the dangers.
- Soon grows tired and overly repetitive.
- It's darts.
- A dart board is cheaper.
Typically we'd treat any darts game with the necessary disdain for a £30 price-tag that begs the question: Why not just pick up a darts board and save yourself some cash?
Still Oxygen Interactive will be hoping that the natural advantages offered by the Wii can change such opinion, and presumably believes that there's plenty of casual Wii'sters yearning for some double-top action.
So why does PDC World Championship Darts 2008 get a place on TVG this year when we did our best to ignore it last year? Quite simply it's the Wii Remote that captures the skill and fun of the real thing closer than the handful of darts games that have come before it.
Offering a variety of control setups to accommodate the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, PDC 2008's traditional 'Tiger Woods' thumbstick control to adjust power and accuracy is about as stimulating as playing darts without the tips screwed in. It's thoroughly pointless and again we'd say, just pick up a darts board.
Fortunately using a Wii Remote solely changes the experience quite significantly, lifting it into the category of games such as Wii Sports that manage to provide fun beyond the somewhat limited gameplay. Admittedly it seems PDC 2008 is targeted towards those who watch the "sport" on BBC2 religiously, but the novel control setup at least provides a reason for the game's existence - something we've never been able to say about a darts game beforehand.
The concept behind the Wii Remote control is admirable. Having targeted precisely where to aim dependant on the difficulty, Wii owners will have to practice their dart-throwing action by bringing the Wii Remote up to eye-level, holding onto the A button, taking a few practice shots and eventually letting go of the A button to throw the shot in a similar manner to Wii Sports' bowling. It's never perfect and being unable to finish the throw seems a far too frequent occurrence for us at least - perhaps that can be attributed to the lack of booze-fuelled blind luck. Nevertheless, a little practice and perseverance goes along way, and eventually it becomes more natural and less problematic.
Although the likes of Phil 'The Power' Taylor and Raymond 'The Man' Van Barneveld doesn't mean much to us, the more sporting darts aficionado will at least acknowledge the 16 professionals available to choose from in the game. We're told that the sophisticated AI routines are calculated using real-life averages from major tournaments and based on characteristics of the pros - we couldn't tell.
Alongside Exhibition, Custom Tournaments, and Party Games like Around the Clock, Cricket, and Killer, the Career mode offers a solid if thoroughly unremarkable experience. We suspect the darts fans out there will earn more from it than us. Choosing from the professionals on offer or creating a character from scratch, the Career mode is based around the darts season and the PDC Order or Merit, which restricts entry to certain tournaments according to the leaderboard ranking. Darts fans will undoubtedly enjoy competing in the US Open, the World Grand Prix, and the World Championship, but for us without such affection it soon grows overly repetitive and somewhat shallow. We're not entirely sure what else Oxygen could do, perhaps a training mini-game revolving around how many pints you can sup before the match?
Largely unspectacular in the visual stakes, PDC World Championship Darts 2008 did at least have our sides splitting and unable to take the shot thanks to the Geordie chimes of Sid "crap-o-rama" Waddell. Bringing the same level of comedy to the proceedings with his "Siddisms" as he does in the real world, Waddell's repetitive quotes go along way to making the game enjoyable when the actual action begins to wane.