The concept of the hero, it strikes me, has become somewhat diluted in recent years. Where once the chivalrous knight in shining armour was the absolute, straight down the line gold standard of heroism, these days we like our heroes a bit more tortured; a bit darker. Modern heroes wear black trenchcoats, blow up buildings, grapple with their conscience more often than you or I grapple with a bowl of corn-flakes, or dress up like bats and shout in the faces of upside-down men until they wet themselves. Errol Flynn it ain't.
One thing that's obvious from the outset is that The Darkness is not a game that's aimed at kids. Whether it's the gloriously bump-mapped trailer depicting a trenchcoated hitman laying waste to a room full of criminals, or the potty mouths of the game's protagonists (it's all motherclucking this, motherfugging that - and wall to wall fecking assholes), this game is being aimed squarely at a mature audience.
It's not set to emerge blinking into the daylight until early 2007, but The Darkness is definitely near the top of our Most Wanted list following another solid showing at the Leipzig Games Convention.
The Darkness pretty much blew everyone away at this year's E3 with its sinister graphic novel styling and menacing horror undertones. Following on from Starbreeze's equally gloomy and dangerous re-imagining of The Chronicles of Riddick, it was hardly a great shock to find that its use of next generation visual technologies were being put to very good use. Locations that drip with atmosphere, coupled with a sensitive use of the source material deliver a stark lesson in how best to use licensed material.
The Darkness isn't a game you'll have heard that much about. You might know that it's by Starbreeze, the guys that put out the rather wonderful (but criminally ignored) The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. You might also know that it's based on 'The Darkness' comic book, by Top Cow. For bonus points, you might also recall that Majesco originally signed the game. But none of that matters. What matters is that out of all the games we saw at E3, The Darkness is easily one of the most promising.