• This game will definitely save you a few unsightly holes in your bedroom door, after all, no one wants to lose their flat rental deposit to a Landlord that objects to you sticking a dartboard up and balancing out the odd miss here and there against hour after hour of entertainment. Thankfully Oxygen Interactive hear your pleas, and have come up with a solution to help you avoid incurring the wrath of the person you pay rent to.

    PDC World Championship Darts 2008 arrives on 360, fresh from a reasonably triumphant stack of sales on Wii and PS2, and if I recall correctly it’s the first Darts game available for the system (correct me if I’m wrong).

    Of course, you can’t wave your 360 pad around to recreate the throwing action that probably caused a few Wii owners to make hefty insurance claims for new televisions, so what does the 360 version offer the armchair arrow-chucker over what has gone before on other systems? Let’s dive in and find out.

    PDC World Championship Darts 2008

    PDC World Championship Darts 2008 features a full roster of the world’s best players, facing off against each other in a proper professional set of Darts challenges ranging from Exhibition and Career modes to post-pub-friendly quick matches and even a 4 player round-robin tournament over Xbox Live. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite you can of course face off against a friend with two controllers in a bit of localised head to head stuff, the choice is yours.

    Straight off the bat, the presentation of the game is actually pretty good – if you’re the sort of person who surreptitiously sneaks downstairs to watch late night darts tournaments on telly (not the topless kind of course, no we know you wouldn’t do that!) while the missus is asleep then you’re going to feel right at home.

    Scooting straight into Exhibition mode, you can choose from a wide selection of pro players from Phil “The Power” Taylor to the sinister Darth Maple himself, John Part (only kidding John, we know you’re cuddly and loveable really).

    Each player’s unique style has been nicely motion-captured though oddly, through periods of inactivity they have the innate ability to stand eerily still between plays. Never mind though, the actual dart-throwing action has been faithfully and pleasingly recreated.

    So with no motion-control on the 360 version what do you get instead? Well you get a rather tricky little combination of targeting cursor and swingometer – the former controller by the left stick (moved around the dartboard to select the general area you want to land your dart in) and the latter controlled by fine accurate vertical movement of the right stick.

    The right-stick stuff takes some getting used to. As you move the stick up, then down, a power bar indicator moves in time with it. Time your up stroke just right just as the power bar hits a pinch-point and with a steady hand you’ll be spot on. Any lateral horizontal movement could see your dart land in someone’s pint, so be careful! I think the control system felt a little on the clunky side personally, lacking finesse but that’s by the by, there really wasn’t any other way they could’ve done it I guess.

    Exhibition mode is a proper game of 301, so you need to nibble away at that score, finishing off on a double as is traditional in the pro game (and pretty much every pub variant I’ve ever played).

    What’s quite neat is that developers Mere Mortals have introduced a few random elements to catch you out. Flights can fall off your darts, darts can bounce out of the board and fist fights can break out during the heat of a match (actually we made that last bit up, it’s all incredibly civilised).

    Complimenting the very serious business of competition darts are a few darts-style party games that you’ll probably recognise if you know anything about the game at all. Everything from Cricket (both US and UK variants), Knockout, Black and White, Odd Man in and 701. Most of these are multiplayer with a minimum of 2 players needed but it’s a good mode if you’ve got a few lairy mates round and don’t want them showing you up by beating you at the proper game.

    The game’s packed to the gills with options and nice presentation touches (the custom player creation screen’s quite a welcome addition, allowing the ladies to get in on the action by letting you design female as well as male player models for your custom avatar). Everything from dart types to flight designs can be tinkered with and there’s a whole stack of achievements to pick up into the bargain to try and keep single players happy.

    It’s fair to say that PDC World Championship Darts 2008 is pretty much the definitive serious darts game on consoles, with very little competition out there aside from Sega’s Touch Darts on Nintendo DS perhaps. For 360 owners it’s number one in a field of one, lacking a little longevity in single player modes once the novelty’s worn off, though Career Mode can prove to be quite rewarding with a good mix of pro and amateur events spread across the tournament calendars. The official score guy creeped the hell out of me though. Gollum lives!

    The conclusion is that if you’re a massive darts fan who religiously follows the game, then this is your equivalent of FIFA Soccer or Pro Evo. If you’ve only a passing interest in pub games it’ll probably do very little to convert you.

    Score: 6/10

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