PDC World Championship Darts 2008
Phil Taylor's a nice man. Even if there was that thing with the two drunk girls in his motorhome, which I didn't have the courage to mention when I interviewed him. We had a lovely chat about badminton and gherkins and Betamax instead. All of these things are more interesting than the shoddy excuse for a videogame the man has attached himself to.
It's not just Phil either. PDC World Championship Darts 2008 features a host of superstar darts players, including Raymond van Barneveld, Peter Manley, Wayne Mardle, Dennis Priestley and of course Kevin 'The Artist' Painter. You can compete against or 'be' them. Or rather, great lumpen CGI versions of them that look like they were moulded out of plasticine by a fingerless monkey. You can also create your own character, making selections from a variety of stupid hairstyles and ugly outfits. There are three skintones to choose from, ranging from caucasian to caucasian with uneven sunburn.
There are Exhibition, Tournament, Career and Party modes, but it all comes down to the same thing. Hold the Wii remote like a dart. Line up the reticule on the virtual dartboard and press A to lock on. Flick the remote forwards as if you were throwing a real dart and let go of A to release.
With practice, it becomes apparent success is a matter of keeping steady after you've locked on and performing the flick in a perfectly straight motion. Wobble or twist your wrist and you'll mess it up. So it is rather like the actual sport, as Phil Taylor claims; in the press release he says, "Using the Wii remote to throw the dart is the closest thing to real darts yet."
This, when considered alongside the poor quality of the game, begs the question - why not play real darts? Why put up with appalling visuals, weird physics and a dart that's uncomfortable to hold and cannot actually be thrown? The real life darts experience can be replicated simply by paying a visit to Argos. In fact, you can buy Phil Taylor's own Official Home Darts Centre, complete with cabinet, board, darts and chalk, for GBP 28.97. The Wii version of PDC World Championship Darts 2008 costs GBP 34.99.
It could be argued the point of the Wii game is you get to play against Taylor and friends. Apparently the AI of their in-game counterparts has been calculated based on their tournament stats and characteristics such as stamina, complacency and accuracy. But in practice it's hard to notice differences in their performance.
It's also hard to get excited about competing in "pro" tournaments as the background visuals and sound effects are laughable. There's a looping soundtrack of general hubbub from the crowd, but when the camera's on them you'll see they've only bothered to animate two or three spectators while the rest are interminably immobile.
In short, the game looks rubbish and is dull to play. Flicking a Wii remote might be more like throwing a dart than pressing a button but it's not much more fun. The novelty wears off in about the same amount of time it takes to throw a dart. Toss.