PDC World Championship Darts 2008

Review: Even less exercise than the real 'sport'

The Unicorn Four World Champions Striker Dartboard: PDC-endorsed, competition-quality bristle board, high quality round wire construction, free tape measure. £20 from Amazon.

The PDC World Championship Darts 2008 game: stone-age graphics, insufferable soundtrack, commentator you'll want to beat to death with his own mixed metaphors, no online multiplayer. £25 from Amazon. Ah.

This is a game based on a sport less in need of electronic recreation than almost any other. £20, a hook on the back of a door and, optionally, a lifetime of binge-drinking will bring you far closer to the giddy, surly heights of real-world professional darts.


That this ugly, one-note misery carries a full price tag only increases the upset. "It should be a free Flash game" is a pretty mean thing to say about the fruit of several men's labour. But this should be a free Flash game. Sorry, several men.

The controls riff, perhaps predictably, off latter-day golf games: you pull the mouse or (ideally) gamepad thumbstick back and push it forward to simulate the movement of a beefy dart-lobbing arm.

On Amateur difficulty, there's a power gauge upon which a pencil-thin line denotes the level you must reach to have your shot land correctly - even a tiny variance will send the dart wildly high or low.

Harder difficulty settings ditch the gauge; instead you need to ascertain the optimum amount of mouse movement through gruelling trial and error. In either case, it feels more like weird science than the Red Lion on Sunday nights.

Particularly unbearable is a half-crazed, totally artificial stress element. If you've landed two treble 20s, a heartbeat will boom from your speakers and the targeting reticule will start spasming all over the place as you go for a third. You're nervous, see. You don't realise it, but the game does. Clever game.

It's just about possible to still judge when best to take the shot, but it's an unfair added challenge which only serves to divorce you from your character. I have never felt particularly tense when going for the third treble, so to have my scowling, rotund avatar suddenly start quivering like a guinea pig on Guy Fawkes night was infuriating.

PDC 2008 would be a fun drunken doss-about despite its clunk if there was online multiplayer, with a ranking system for those brave few who dedicate themselves to this game. But since it's glaringly a budget affair (despite the price), there's no netcode in here, simply screen-sharing multiplay.

So you're pretty much down to solo play, the centrepiece of which is a meat-free and painfully repetitive career mode. You'll make that exact same shot at the treble 20 hundreds, perhaps thousands of times in the course of your professional career.

The vaguely thrilling sense of competition that comes with first mastering the controls and besting an AI opponent soon dwindles, replaced with the horrifying realisation that this is all there is.

The verdict

Neither super, smashing, nor great

Oxygen Interactive