Top Darts Review
- Posted February 23rd, 2012 at 11:33 EDT by Steven Williamson
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There's plenty of fun to be had out of Top Darts, but a few issues prevent it from scoring a perfect 180
- Good use of the touchscreen. Throwing darts feels like it should
- Cross platform play
- Excellent and wide range of game modes
- Waiting for the turn of CPU opponents
- No matter how much you dress it up, you're just throwing a dart repeatedly using the same motions
- Commentator audio is broken
Following its debut on PlayStation Network in 2010, Top Darts lands on PlayStation Vita on launch week with a new lease of life, trading in its traditional control scheme and PlayStation Move thrusts for touchscreen swipes and flicks.
Pinching the rear touchpad to zoom into the dartboard and tilting PS Vita to get a slightly different viewing angle are two other ways that developer Devil’s Details has attempted to manipulate PS Vita’s wide range of input methods to its advantage, but it’s the front touchscreen that takes centre stage.
Gameplay revolves around dragging your finger across the front display to choose the area where you wish to throw the dart, before pulling it downwards and then flicking it forward in one smooth motion to land in the board. The controls are instantly accessible and having that physical interaction between player, screen and arrow makes it feel like a very natural throwing motion.
Nevertheless, there’s no getting away from the fact that gameplay is incredibly repetitive and involves repeating that same drag-pull-and-flick maneuver. And, once you’ve worked out how to execute that perfect upwards swipe, it’s actually not that difficult to regularly hit Treble 20’s and ‘checkout’ every single time you need to hit a double.
Top Darts does attempt to balance that lack of challenge and repetitiveness by offering an incredible amount of game modes. Traditional games, such as 501 and cup and league tournaments, are available alongside classic games, including Cricket, Around the Clock and Nine Lives.
Quirky arcade games like Alien Attack, where you need to score as many points as possible before the Aliens make their way to the Bullseye, provide some light entertainment too, and with approximately 28 different modes on offer it means there’s something slightly different to think about each time you step up to the oche if you’re willing to adventure outside of the standard cup and league matches.
Top Darts is stylishly presented and features a range of dartboards, including novelty boards with a variety of designs and different backgrounds. Though it doesn’t distract from the fact that you’re still repeating the same dart throwing action, it’s also nice to be able to switch the vibe from the likes of a busy Irish pub to the soothing guitar sounds of the Barefoot Beach Bar.
Despite the colourful design, range of modes and intuitive control scheme, Top Darts does get a couple of things completely wrong. Firstly, you’re made to watch your CPU opponent on every turn. There’s no way of skipping his three darts, so you spend a stupid amount of time waiting around doing nothing.
What’s more unforgiveable is the inaccuracy of the commentators. Darts legend Sid Wadell does a great job with some witty one-liners and adds an air of authenticity to the matches, but switch across the generic lady commentator and she regularly shouts out the wrong score. Though this doesn’t affect the scoring system - so it’s not a game breaker – it’s one of the basic things you’d expect the game to get right.
The highlight of Top Darts is the multiplayer arena. Cross-platform play between PS Vita and PS3 ensures there’ll be plenty of competition, and having asynchronous games and leagues to dip into is a nice little feature allowing players to jump in and out of games at their leisure.
If you love darts, you can’t fail but be impressed with the variety of game modes on offer in Top Darts and the robust multiplayer component. Nonetheless, there’s no escaping the fact that all you ever really do is drag your finger down, flick it up, and repeat. That super smooth mechanic certainly makes it good fun in short bursts of play, but not being able to skip the turn of the CPU turns the single player games into quite a chore.