PDC World Championship Darts 2008 Review (PS2)

There's something of a guilty pleasure that's derived from watching Darts. Every festive season, when the Christmas bloat is beginning to take shape, the PDC World Championships resonate from the TV as Sky's over-the-top coverage begins: theme tunes, scantily clad girls, excitement and plenty of beer. Despite the arguments of the virtue of the game as a sport or not one organisation is trying to get it into the Olympics there's no denying the sheer entertainment value of the game, which is why it's inevitably been reproduced in computerised form.

The Fashion Show Years If he offers you some sweets, just say no

Remarkably, this is a sequel presumably enough people bought the first game with the ten Professional 'Dartists' artists of the oche, you see returning, their ranks bolstered by six newcomers. As well as legends like Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld, Wayne Mardle and John Part, you can now play as Andy 'The Hammer' Hamilton and Kevin 'The Artist' Painter. They've all, allegedly, been motion captured, too, which can't have been a pretty sight in those tight lyrca suits Darts players aren't always renowned for their dedication to fitness, after all.

The gameplay is structured around pretty standard fare for a sports and I use that term relatively loosely title. A basic exhibition mode allows you to play against a friend or the computer or as one of your own creations that you've thrown together in the rudimentary editor. Tournament mode allows you to pick a competition from one of the seven main events on the PDC calender, and they all have accurate stage areas and 'Sky Sports' style presentation, even if they've used the word 'inspired' when they really mean 'copied'. There's also a league mode, and a hefty selection of party games to spice up drunken evenings.

I want that one! The grandest stage of them all

A career mode is also available, but all this does is string the selection of tournaments together into an organised season, with exhibition matches available in between there's no real sense of progression or achievement within this mode when compared to others, not like you get in Pro Evolution Soccer's Master League, for example.

Graphically, it's not really pushing the PS2 to it's limits. Player reproductions are something of a mixed bag, with some of the big stars, like Taylor and Mardle, looking frighteningly accurate and others, like former World Champion Van Barneveld, looking distinctly odd although it was a common consensus in the Jennings house that every combatant had been slimmed down and smartened up for the benefit of the game. Some of the more obscure pros will be difficult to recognise for even the most dedicated of Darts fans, though, due to their resemblance to anonymous-looking, balding, no-necked former bouncers.

The stages are serviceable, but the crowd are sorely lacking a few dozen lumpy figures scattered around the stage does nothing to replicate the rabid atmosphere of the World Championship final, and the commentary, provided by Voice of Darts Sid Waddell, is woeful the great man blurted out that my darts was 'Nafforama' about 12 times in the opening half hour, and I'm inclined to return the insult when talking about his verbalising.

Even so, the joy of playing PDC isn't in having picture-perfect graphics or decent commentary. The actual playing engine is solid, with the right analogue stick being implemented intelligently you pull back and push forward to replicate the throwing motion, and getting the speed, direction, timing and weighting sufficiently decent to throw where you're aiming is an art and immensely satisfying as you get better. Get a chance for 180 and a thudding heartbeat rattles through the game and your aim becomes more erratic. It's just like the real thing almost.

It's all glitz and glamour in the darts world What a shirt. You can't say these guys aren't classy

I mentioned drunken evenings earlier and, much like darts in real life is best enjoyed after a few drinks, so is this game. It's a hugely ideal party game, whether in exhibition mode with your own recreations or playing one of the darts-related mini games. It's not hugely pretty or accomplished, but it's entertaining in it's own way. One for a rental then, perhaps, if the boys are coming round because buying it outright may be too much of a guilty pleasure to get away with despite the immense amount of simplistic charm this game carries.

Top Game Moment:
A few drinks have been sunken and it's a crucial match World Championship Final against your best friend. Double top for the win, and you nail it. Get in.

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