"You're not going to like PDC World Championship Darts 2009 unless you like darts. It's not like FIFA, where even if you don't watch or play football you can still enjoy the game. With PDC 09, you need to have a passing interest in the real thing before you even think about enjoying yourself. Even then, though, you're not likely to get much enjoyment from it."
You're not going to like PDC World Championship Darts 2009 unless you like darts. It's not like FIFA, where even if you don't watch or play football you can still enjoy the game. With PDC 09, you need to have a passing interest in the real thing before you even think about enjoying yourself. Even then, though, you're not likely to get much enjoyment from it.
The game includes 5 modes. 'Exhibition' can be played either alone or with friends using one DS, as can a 'Tournament' mode that allows you to make a tournament with up to 8 other human or AI players (once you've unlocked 3 more darts players). The challenging 'Career' mode is exactly what you'd expect; it lets you take a pro darts player through several tournaments. You should probably practice a bit in 'Exhibition' mode before attempting it. 'Party Games' features 11 simple diversions for up to 4 players, including around the clock, cricket, killer and so forth. Finally there's 'Wireless,' which offers local wifi play for 2 players.
There are 16 players in the game. Just 5 of these are immediately playable whilst the remaining 11 must be unlocked during the career mode, for tasks such as having an average score of over 120 for each turn in a single leg of a match, or by completing official PDC events in tournament mode. There are no other unlockables in the game, so the only incentives you have to keep playing are the unlockable characters and your own drive to do so.
The control system works pretty well; you use the stylus to tap the place where you want the dart to land, pull the stylus down and then flick it upwards again. Your goal is to pull down until the the sweet spot on the dart-shaped meter at the bottom left corner of the touch screen is highlighted. Whilst pulling the dart back, any movement of the stylus to the left or right in the process will be matched in-game as the dart flies through the air, meaning that you've got to be careful throughout the whole process. If you're on a harder shot, like the third of 2 triple 20s or a winning shot, the aiming reticule will zig-zag through it, so you have to time the shot to get it where you want it to go, making it considerably more difficult to get it right. This is more annoying than it is an imaginative gameplay idea, as it's not necessarily due to your skill that denotes whether or not you're going to win.
The game also tells you which shots you need to hit to win the game, provided it's possible with the shots you have. For example, if you've got 33 points left, it'll tell you to get a 1, then a double 16. It's a useful tool that you should pay attention to – the computer does.
The AI in PDC 09 is unforgiving in all modes. You will lose a lot of matches, especially when you're just starting out. It's rare that opponents will miss their mark, to the frustrating extent that you'll be tempted to just stop playing. Multi-player is the place to be; whilst the single-player modes will annoy the pants off of you, playing against friends is every bit as much fun as you might expect.
Graphically, the game isn't too impressive. Darts are jagged, the board is bland and you're frequently sure that you've hit something on the board but the game says you haven't (or vice versa). It's difficult to see. Whilst the players are recognisable enough, they're essentially static images, so it's still not particularly impressive. The sound on offer is also generally annoying. Other than the compulsory melodramatic shouts of '180', which is just as amusingly pointless as it is in real life, commentary is repetitive and awkward and cheering is essentially white noise in the background – we went through an entire match hearing 'Player 2's got the experience,' every time the computer had finished it's turn. It's not great, but it is grating.
All in all, the game isn't going to interest anyone who isn't already a fan of darts and it's not a good way to pass the time if you're playing alone. Whilst the difficult computer makes winning a match pretty satisfying and the quite frankly stupid waving reticule for hard shots does make a 180 a decent achievement, it's still not enough to carry the whole game. If you're a fan and you're going to play it with friends, it might be worth the investment. Might be.
Freelance review by Gareth Chadwick (June 29, 2009)
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