We've just emerged, blinking into the light, from a special showing of The Darkness, the comic-book inspired shooter with a seriously evil bent. Our demo began with hitman Jackie Estacado - the hero - lugging a corpse-filled body bag into the trunk of a van, and it only got better.
To cut a paranormal story short, on the night Jackie turned 21 he was possessed by an ancient demonic force called The Darkness, giving him some impressive powers. Shooting out the lights in a deserted restaurant kitchen and plunging the room into darkness, Jackie was able to summon forces from the gloom, manifesting some Darklings (scurrying demons) and then harness his powers further by transforming himself into a be-tentacled human monster.
Jackie's new bits come in handy when battling enemies. We saw how you can use one of your new snake-like tendrils to crawl along walls, through air-ducts and attack an enemy from behind. And by lashing out with Jackie's tentacle you can slay enemies or, even better, whirl dumpsters over your head and smash your opponents with the upside of a police patrol car.
Developer Starbreeze wants these dark powers to complement the gunplay, and the two attack methods mesh well, although utilizing the nether-forces will draw Jackie closer to losing control of his own body. The demo showed how summoned Darklings can be used to thin out a crowd and allow you time to pick your shots. Each Darkling carries a weapon on its misshapen back, and we were grimacing as one of the evil critters leapt on a SWAT team member and drilled him in the neck with a jackhammer.
An interesting twist has been added to The Darkness called Darkness TV. Whenever you see a television, you can turn it on and kick back. The developers have created a system that can pipe full-length movies and television shows through any TV in the game to give players a bit of a break from the bloodbath. We watched the developers give us a little interview over Darkness TV until we got bored with their prattling and had a Darkling switch the channels so that we could watch some Popeye cartoons.
Xbox 360 might have more than its fair share of shooters, but we'll be surprised if The Darkness doesn't tempt you into its shadowy action when it launches later this year.