Gamestyle Archive intro: a Playstation 3 review from 2010. This one is interesting as the top of the review has a tagline that would be incorporated into the site itself.
Format: Playstation 3
Published: November 2010
PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour excellently recreates the atmosphere of the marvellously over-the-top sport. All the stars are present, as are all the venues. The only thing missing is a decent control system.
Words by Chris Thornton , playing on a Sony PlayStation 3.
The presentation of PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour is done well. Although the graphics look dated at times, the atmosphere during the matches cannot be faulted. Most of the work has been done by the Professional Darts Corporation, who have managed to take an essentially dull game, and added the theatrics of a WWE wrestling match to make it watchable. The game captures this perfectly, and the various venues that you will play at are highly entertaining.
The close-up graphics of the dart boards are superb, and it looks particularly realistic. Unfortunately, having the other half of the screen taken up with a particularly unrealistic version of Phil “the Power” Taylor (or any of the other big names of darts), ruins the effect, but there are a variety of different views to choose. With full commentary from Sid Waddell and John Gwynne, there is a great feel to playing matches, and when you hear your first “Onnnnnne Hundred and Eiiiiiiiiighty” declared to the whoops and cheers of the audience, you get a real sense of satisfaction.
The career mode is the main game mode, and it offers a good deal of depth. You can create your own player, customising appearance, clothing, darts, throwing style, and even giving them a suitable nickname. You are then able to progress through the tour calendar, competing in such events as the UK Open, Las Vegas Desert Classic, and the Grand Slam of Darts. Prize money is awarded for finishing well in the tournaments, and your rank and rating increases. It may not be perfect, and Gamestyle would have liked more detailed customisation and levelling up systems, but with a good variety in the tournaments, it’s sure to keep you occupied for countless hours.
Pro Tour is let down by its controls, however, and this proves to be a fatal flaw. There are two stages to throwing a dart; first you aim, guiding a target reticule to the right spot on the dartboard, locking it in place with the shoulder button, and then you pull back the right analogue, flicking it forward to launch the dart, simultaneously releasing the shoulder button. The speed in which you flick the analogue stick determines the power, and the horizontal accuracy is determined by how straight you flicked the stick forward.
Gamestyle found that due to the position of your thumbs, however, it was nearly impossible to flick the stick “straight”, which seemed to be vertical. It’s awkward, and thanks to the pesky knuckle and angle of the thumb as you hold the controller, straight for us was more at an angle, meaning that the darts invariably went to the left. This can be rectified by aiming to take this into consideration, but the actual launching of the dart is far too random to be able to to this with any confidence.
If you don’t release the shoulder button, you can take a practice throw, which can help determine the power before you throw. Gamestyle found that it seemed like only millimetres between throwing a dart that fell short, and a dart that went wildly over. You can take as many practice shorts as you like, but it won’t make a blind bit of difference, as each thrown is completely different to the next.
There are two options of aim assistance, but even on the maximum setting, Gamestyle found their darts missing their targets, particularly frustrating when trying to get that all important double to win. There is a practice mode, which allows you to throw darts in a non-competitive surrounding, and this seems to have a different throwing system. In this, there is a tiny window just after you have flicked the analogue stick, which lets you seem the power and accuracy before your release the shoulder button. It’s useful, as you throw more accurate darts, and its unknown why this isn’t available in the actual game. As it stands, you have you release the shoulder button almost before you’ve set the power, which makes the whole thing a bit of a lottery.
Pro Tour offers Move compatibility, but this too is wholly inadequate. Firstly, holding the Move controller like a dart is awkward, with the accessory being too large and bulky to be comfortable. It also suffers from the same problem as the control pad; you release the Move button to let go of the dart, but then you have no way of knowing the power of accuracy, relying on the physical action of moving the controller through the air. As you invariably snap your arm back, after you’ve gone through the throwing motion, if you don’t let go of the button at the correct point, it registers the pull-back, and reduces the power of your shot.
Gamestyle understands that there is a need to make the throwing system a challenge, so that getting a nine dart finish is the rare achievement it should be, but the method employed in Pro Tour just isn’t consistent enough. As a result, it’s a slog to progress through the career mode. The random nature of the throw means that you can never master it, and games often become those of chance rather than skill. The matches themselves take long enough (and you inexplicably get punished for suspending one, should you not want to play it out in the full hour sitting it will take!), but it isn’t helped by having to take multiple practice throws before you chuck your dart in anger.
It’s a real shame, because Pro Tour offers so much. The career mode is accompanied with a party mode, which has a plethora of dart-based games to play. These include Round the Clock, Killer, and Cricket, and are far more entertaining that the traditional game. It’s a crime that these are only available to be played with friends, and you can’t take on the CPU. The same can be said of the online multiplayer, which only allows you to play the traditional games.
PDC World Championship Darts: Pro Tour is a near perfect example of a good game that is completely undone by its controls. The content would probably appeal to both hardcore and casual dart fans alike, but the fiddly and inconsistent throwing mechanics are enough to put anyone off playing.