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PDC World Darts Pro Tour is as close as I'll get to professional darts, it is just a shame it's not the experience I had hoped for.
I love watching darts and whatever others may say, I consider it to be a sport. It requires a high skill level and dedication to put in the hours of practice. Like many others, I have sat there watching Phil Taylor and Co and thought 'I wonder how hard it really is?' 'Could I, with a bit of practice, be on that stage playing those guys?'
PDC World Darts Pro Tour features the standard modes that come with most sporting games -- career (where I could choose to play as one of the top PDC players and compete in various tournaments), exhibition (where I could play matches that I had configured i.e. number of sets, number of legs etc) and various head to head fun pub games.
But I wasn't that interested in the sideshows, darts for me is all about the showmanship of the big event. I selected the main man -- 15 times World Champion Phil 'The Power' Taylor as my character and headed in to career mode. Oddly, I could choose any event to play rather than having to work through them but decided to start at the beginning. Matches were 'best of' a number of legs and I quickly found myself, to put it bluntly, hammering all and sundry.
I don't own a Move controller so was limited to the ordinary controls which use the sticks to position a target reticule, then a shoulder button to enter throwing mode before a flick-it style throw. The knack is to judge the back and forward motion of this last phase to generate sufficient power and then release the shoulder button in time with the stick movement to throw.
I could practice my throw as much as I liked because here are no time constraints. I would just play around until I had it nailed, then do it for real. Because of this, some matches lasted a long long time especially when I got to the final of tournaments and was playing best of 35 legs, for example.
Some of Sid Waddell's quips are genius -- especially his darts version of Total Eclipse of the Heart
Slow play was the least of my problems though. While playing through these competitions, there were small things that let the game down and they started to add up as I went along to become a big ball of frustration.
The tournament MC lip synchs poorly with the dialog and after a few views, the intros for the players get boring -- luckily you can skip through them with the push of a button (or as I did, turn them off in the options menu).
The character models are passable -- some are actually quite good - but the animation is limited. I often saw the same 'disappointed' animation repeated -- even in the shorter games. There is no change in the faces of the characters so emotion relies on that same limited set of body movements.
The crowd, while as noisy as a real life darts crowd, consisted of the same people at every single tournament, stood in exactly the same places. Either these were very wealthy spectators who could afford to follow the players around the world or the developers were a bit lazy.
The commentary from the Sky Sports presenters was great the first time I heard it. Some of Sid Waddell's quips are genius -- especially his darts version of Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart. Repetition is a problem here too though. The limited conversation comes around all too soon and I was hearing some of the comments twice in the same leg. Eventually I turned the commentary sound down which left me with just the crowd noise.
I played with the aim assist set to maximum. This makes the game ridiculously easy and I was able to score 180's almost at will. Very quickly I was knocking in 9 dart finishes (the holy grail of darts). Turning the aim assist off makes things more difficult but ultimately still very repetitive.
I would rather pick up a real dart than use a Dualshock.
Important shots required no more control than any other. Pressure to hit a double or land a big score was never apparent and so I often felt like I was going through the motions.
All of this meant that my overall feeling from this game was, sadly, boredom. I may never be able to compete against the likes of Phil Taylor, James Wade and Simon Whitlock but I would rather pick up a real dart than use a Dualshock.
I cannot imagine that the Move controls would improve the game to the level where I would want to play it a lot -- there isn't enough about the game to make me want to come back to it. I also cannot see multiplayer being anywhere near as good as standing in front of a real board with some mates and playing with real darts.
PDC World Darts Pro Tour is good enough to pass a bit of time but not good enough to make you want to spend time with it.
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