PSN Review – Top Darts

Since the Move released last September, gamers have waited for not only a killer app, but decent games to play with friends and family. Enter Devils Details and their newly released PSN game, Top Darts. With darts usually being an enjoyable game played at bars, can Top Darts offer up the same fun in your living room, or is this just another mini-game filled shovelware title?

The game of darts is truly about facing off against other players, and Top Darts is no different. Compete with up to eight computer or human opponents in one of the nine different game modes. If you’ve played darts before, then you should be familiar with the well-known games like Classic 301/501/701 and Around the Clock. New to darts, try the simpler games High Score and High, or maybe you’re a regular at the game, in which case check out the more unique games: Cricket, English Cricket, Soccer, Tic Tac Toe and Warfare. Each game type, from the well-known to the more unique, is surprisingly different and easy to learn. And with these kinds of choices, there should be no problem in satisfying everyone’s taste.

Top Darts also offers what no bar can offer in a multiplayer environment, and that’s the ability for both players to go at the same time. If you have two Move controllers you can go head to head at the same time, on the same board. Sure this may not seem like much, but when you’re going fast and furious trying to reach a set score before your opponent does, it really adds a sense of urgency, and intensity that a regular game of darts cannot.

If you happen to be by yourself , Top Darts still has something for you. For one, you can still compete in one of the nine game modes against an AI opponent, or you can compete in either League play or Cup mode. League play starts you off in the Amateur league with nine other opponents. You will face-off against each player, playing the Classic 301/501/701 game mode in a best of three series. After you’ve played each of your nine opponents, the top two overall winners will move on to the next league, and so on. In total there are four leagues: amateur, semi-pro, pro and world-class that you will be competing in. Cup mode is very similar to League play, with the only difference being that instead of competing against each opponent, you will be placed in either an 8 or 16 player bracket with the winner taking all.

The last game mode you can play is called Stack-Up, this is a truly unique game that you can’t get at any bar or lounge. On the right side of the screen numbers will appear, and start to fall. If you hit the designated number on the dart board, than the number goes away. As each number falls though, it is followed by another number, and another and so on. When each number gets to the bottom of the screen, it starts to stack up on each other, and once they reach the top, the game’s over. Adding to the confusion is the occasional request to hit a double or even a triple number. This game, although easy at first, quickly speeds up, and in the end is truly a unique experience. Stack-up is not only fun, but teaches you the layout of the board as well as helps you become quicker and more accurate.

Using the Move controller can be hit or miss at times. It has a steep learning curve, with the bulk of the issues coming from the way you position your PlayStation Eye. Another issue is learning exactly how to hold the controller, since the standard way doesn’t work well. I opted for the more traditional dart position, and after some time and practice, it worked well enough. A word of caution: holding the controller this way can cause it to slip out easily, so be sure to wear the wrist strap. Overall, once you get the hang of the Move controller, and learn the little nuances, it works surprisingly well, and you can get pretty accurate with it.

The graphics for Top Darts are very well done, with each of the five environments being beautifully depicted. Each area has its own set of standard and novelty boards. The dart boards are also customizable, allowing you to add a picture by either uploading it from your PS3’s hard drive, or by taking a quick snap shot with the PlayStation Eye. Not satisfied with a motionless background? Then simply select video, and whatever you are doing in front of the Eye will show up on the background of the dart board.

The customization doesn’t just stop at the dart boards. If you don’t like the character selection, then perhaps a more personalized character would suit you better. Align yourself with the onscreen position and snap a picture – don’t forget to say cheese. Even the darts are easy to customize, you can select one of their darts, or interchange each part of the dart to make some truly unique darts. Sure none of this will improve your game, but it is a nice bonus.

The main downside for Top Darts, is the lack of any online multiplayer component. For a game to come out in this generation that in essence is so multiplayer focused, and not offer any online component is rather baffling. Most gamers, do not have a constant flow of friends and family around to play games with, so having the ability to challenge online friends would have been a blast, and the fact it is not there is a real shame.

Overall Top Darts is good game, it offers plenty of different game modes to match everyone’s taste, and once you get the hang of it, the Move is fun to play with. The lack of any online component does put a damper on this game, but still shouldn’t turn you away. This may not be for everyone, but if you like to throw darts with friends on the weekend, this will be a nice bonus for the living room.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ A lot of content for the price

+ Great game with friends

– No online component is frustrating

7 out of 10