It's a funny old game really, Darts, when you look at it. But it's the perfect kind of game to translate to the Wii. I'm a bit of a darts fan and when this popped through the door I noticed it was developed by Rebellion, a good sign. You've also seen that I tend to be blunt about games I don't like, this isn't one of them. PDC 2009 is a pretty good game, it has a few things wrong with it but we'll come to those in a bit.
The evil darts emperor of mankind has taken over the Kingdom of Pubs and...Ok, I lie, there isn't a story. I just felt like putting something here.
I got a little tingle down my spine from hearing the completely cheesy 'ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY' on the opening menu, rather than being put off, since I'm a fan of cheesy darts - it set the tone in a great way for the whole shebang. The game makes great use of the Wii-mote's motion-sensing control and completely dumps the Nunchuck controller in favour of concentrating solely upon the motion of the mote.
It's a simple control method, hold the A or B button, point the Wiimote at the screen and make a throwing gesture. Now here's the important part Wii-owners! Let go of the button, not the Wii-mote, I can't stress this enough. You don't want to go digging plastic out of the screen of your expensive HDTV or the head of a loved one, or pet.
The game measures the power of your gesture, so if you wimp out and make a limp-wristed throw like a weedy wendy, you're looking at a dart that's going to fly a few inches from your fingertips and drop on the floor, miss the board entirely and make you a laughing stock amongst your beefy armed dart-chucking mates.
There's fortunately a setting that allows you to learn how to do this, maximum gives you a power-bar feedback ala Tiger Woods and minimum, is the same but less feedback, off, well, off gives you the professional feedback, aka, nothing. Armed with this knowledge eager Wii-darters should be able to get the best out of the game.
The screen is split into two, you have the dart board on one and the player on the other, and there are nice replays for good shots and a few other surprises that tickled my fancy. The motion controller did a good job of picking up player movement, but, I feel the Wii-motion plus would benefit this game a lot since there was some jitter on the game.
There's a custom character creator with some limited options, a robust career mode and a play it your own way mode, that allows you to make a custom tournament for four players. Career mode is a lot of fun and the game has an excellent timetable and save system to allow you to concentrate on playing the game, not fighting the real-time real-world clock. It's good to just dive into for a match or two, or a whole league's worth of worthy adversaries, either as your custom or real-world player.
The Wii is a pretty powerful console, so it shouldn't have too much trouble producing respectable and nice graphics for a darts game. We've all seen worse games I'm sure. PDC 2009 does a respectable, if a little plastic-shiny job of rendering your player. There is some pop-up and some object intersection, especially when you pull your darts off the board. The crowd don't look as dynamic and lifelike as they should, I swear some of them appeared to be made from Cardboard or at least Formica. It runs at a good framerate so I can forgive Rebellion for this, just about!
There's a lot of showboating involved with the walk on, it feels more like Smackdown Vs. Raw in that case and amused me. I found nothing wrong with the animations in general, they were solid and the dart-throwing animation was decent enough. It was good fun to watch the player walk on and see the camera panning the crowd, the player and catch a glimpse of the WWE style showboating animations.
The CPU does a good job at providing a decent challenging opponent and I don't have any issues with it.
Rebellion have done a good job at translating Wii-mote motion with the actual physics of darts, I can't wait to try Wii-motion plus with this game or a sequel.
The sound design is good, decent atmospheric sounds that draw you into the world of darts pretty well. I have no complaints here either.
The music in the game has the right kind of darts feel to it, it plays when you get your walk on and it's there to augment the game not overshadow it.
Oh boy, there's an amusing glitch that I stumbled upon, not sure what causes it but the Alvin the Chipmunk Commentator was utterly awesome when it happened. I wasn't able to replicate it on the same day but if you get it, try throwing a dart with a straight face. When it works, the two commentators from the World of Darts: Sid Waddell and Russ Bray do a fantastic job. The commentary is sharp, doesn't repeat and is satisfying to listen to.
There are party games in PDC 2009, which is great to see. 301, 501, Around the Clock, which needed a better explanation for a non-darts player are just a few of the things on offer here. You can also play with one Wii-mote if you don't have more than one, or your friends forgot theirs.
One in my eye!
So PDC 2009 is better than PDC 2008, by a long shot. They dumped the Nunchuck and concentrated on the Wii-mote. They provided a better game experience all around. It has some glitches and overall visual problems now and then, however, if you want a good starter darts game, or a game for a darts enthusiast on the Wii, look no further.