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PSP  header logo

PDC World Championship Darts 2008

For: PSP

It's got The Power

Product: PDC World Championship Darts 2008 | Publisher: Oxygen Interactive | Format: PSP | Genre: Pub Sports, Simulation | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
PDC World Championship Darts 2008 PSP, thumbnail 1
There's something glorious about seeing a bevy of darts players being reproduced in virtual form. With a physique that's usually never seen in video games – outside the odd beat-'em-up boss encounter – and faces that would sink a thousand ships these are not your usual fantasy heroes.

The idea of a darts simulation is already fairly absurd, but watching PDC World Championship Darts 2008's opening movie trying to portray the differently skinny forms of Raymond "The Man" van Barneveld, Peter "One Dart" Manley, Dennis "The Menace" Priestley and Phil "The Power" Taylor as the darting world equivalent of David Beckham is unintentionally hilarious.

You are always laughing with the game, though, not at it. Indeed, it's hard to feel anything but genuine respect for a title that takes its preposterous premise by the horns and makes the best darn dart simulation you could hope for.

Naturally, any such hope should be tinged with the realisation that the limited amount of entertainment pretend darts can offer is even more restricted by the nature of the PSP. The DS version of PDC World Championship Darts 2008 has a clear novelty advantage when it comes to controlling your virtual missile.

As it is, the controls in the game are dangerously simplistic. You can zoom in and out on the dart board with the L and R shoulder buttons but placing the circular aiming cursor exactly where you want to aim seems to suggest that the whole process is going to be pointlessly easy. That's very far from the case though as actually making your shot involves using a ruthlessly unforgiving power bar system, similar to that used in most golf games. With a flick of the analogue slider you have to stop the power bar at exactly the right point as it moves downwards and then quickly flick back up to throw.

As simple as it sounds it's initially very difficult to get exactly right and just as hard to perfect on a regular enough basis to win. The movement itself even mimics the basics of real darts to some degree, adding to the air of authenticity that the excellent presentation has already manifested.

No, really. The graphics portraying these least athletic of athletes are generally excellent and, although it quickly starts to repeat, the deeply sarcastic commentary from Sid Waddell and Bruce Spendley is just as good. The jeers and catcalls from the crowds are better still, creating an atmosphere that may be the most uniquely British in all of modern video gaming.

Yet the obvious problem is that, unlike golf games, there's essentially no variety to proceedings at all. In fact there can't be if it's to remain a realistic simulation. That said, the game is certainly aware of this and does its level best to compensate with Exhibition, Tournament and full Career modes. There's also a set of multiplayer party games where you can play with everything from standard 501 and 701 rules to Cricket, Round the World and the rather-less-bloody-than-it-sounds Killer.

On top of all this PDC World Championship Darts 2008 goes to the unprovoked effort of allowing you to not only customise your own portly player but even import a photo to use as your profile picture. Should you wish to listen to a spot of death metal while you play you can also create your own custom playlist from any MP3s stored on your Memory Stick.

These are features vastly higher profile games don't bother with, so it's heartening to see that Oxygen hasn't just taken the fact that it's a darts game as an excuse to go easy on the effort.

And yet… it is only a darts game.

Sounds obvious, but if you don't like darts or if you want a game with depth and variety then this will offer nothing to please you. Then again, if you feel that way it's hardly likely that you were ever going to pick up PDC World Championship Darts 2008 – or indeed read this review with an open mind. For the committed darts fan or casual weekend player, however, this definitely hits the bulls eye.
PDC World Championship Darts 2008
Reviewer photo
Roger Hargreaves | 3 October 2008
It's a darts game. On the PSP. And yet somehow it's actually a lot of fun
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