PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour Review
Posted by James Newton
For what it's worth, PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour is the first darts game to hit the PS3, and comes fully equipped for PlayStation Move support - though DualShock 3 is also supported. With a host of licensed players, tournaments and sponsors it’s certainly not a half-hearted effort, but it falls just short of hitting the bulls-eye.
Taking aim with PlayStation Move is exactly as straightforward as you’d expect. Holding the Move like a dart, you mark a spot to aim for using the cursor, then hold the Move button or T and make a throwing motion, releasing the button to send the dart flying gracefully through the air. The smoothness and straightness of your forward throw affects how close to your original marker the shot will land, so it’s important to keep a steady hand. Keeping the button held down lets you take a practice shot, helping you to gauge the power and precision of your throw before letting go, helping you to nail those trebles.
There are three levels of assistance available – maximum, minimum and off – with the differences in each being very noticeable: with the most assistance your dart rarely wavers from its dot, but turn the feature off completely and you’ll see your arrows fly all over the place unless you’ve got the well-trained throwing arm of a pro.
Speaking of pros, the PDC license carries with it the biggest names from the world of darts: Phil Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and dozens more are available from the start, each with their signature entrances, celebrations and more. They’re well recreated but are rooted deep within the uncanny valley: there’s something a little stiff about the way their animations link together that makes repetitive motions like taking the darts from the board a little stilted. In a sport that contains very few animations compared to the likes of football or basketball, it’s a shame that the movements included couldn’t flow together a little more convincingly.
It’s not just professional players represented here either: top tournaments are included, and taking your created player through a career to compete at these events is a welcome addition that offers plenty of drama along the way. While it may lack the depth of other games’ career modes, it’s a nice way to chain together lots of gameplay and darts fans will appreciate the attention put into bringing the stages and tournaments to life.
There’s a reasonably good attempt at recreating the live darts atmosphere too, with a cheering crowd, master of ceremonies and TV-style commentary from Sid Waddell and John Gwynne that veers between the hilarious and the irritating; you’ll hear the same phrases repeated several times during the same match, though you can alter the sound levels depending on your preferences.
Other nice atmospheric touches appear too: you can choose to celebrate after your shots - bringing a quick burst of cheering from the crowd - and when you’re one dart away from a 180 or ready to finish a leg the Move controller begins to vibrate in time with a heartbeat sound from the TV, ramping up the pressure. Again, this can be switched off if you choose, but it certainly makes the satisfaction to be had from landing those match-winning shots even sweeter.
Of course, human competition is the greatest satisfaction-sweetener there is, and here the game excels with a huge range of multiplayer modes. There’s no fewer than 14 different games to play, ranging from classic 501, 701, Around the Clock, UK or US rules Cricket and more. The rules are explained before each game starts so you can familiarise yourself with any unknown variants, and if you have friends available for regular living room darts sessions you’ll glean plenty of enjoyment here.
Sadly the enjoyment is limited to the living room: although there is online play available it’s limited to one-on-one matches, with no tournaments or leagues to join in at the time of writing. It’s a basic addition and a missed opportunity: darts lends itself to online play every bit as well as other sports, and more could have been done here.
PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour is a worthy attempt at a darts game on Move that offers a lot to enjoy in single or local multiplayer, but the rough edges detract from the finished product: repetitive commentary, some shaky animation and underdeveloped online features mean this one is for dedicated darts followers only.