Sure enough, there’s a theme park in Secret World. Haunted, natch. But otherworlded or otherwise, I love a theme park in a videogame. One of my favorite theme parks was a whole level in the Battle Out of Hell add-on for Painkiller which included a working roller coaster. Theme parks — I’m going to lump circuses into this category — aren’t as novel as they were back in the day of the original Blood or Bad Day on the Midway. But they’re still just as welcome a sight.

The recent corridor shooter Darkness II had a disappointing theme park level, which makes me wonder if theme parks aren’t better suited to open-world games. Part of the appeal of a theme park when you’re a kid is being set loose to do whatever activity you want: ride the rides, get some junk food, play some of those games to win prizes, go through the fun house, whatever you want. Bully really got this with its theme park, which was like an open-world game inside an open-world game. Grand Theft Auto IV and Crackdown both had abandoned theme parks. Were abandoned theme parks always this forlorn, or does that partly come from seeing those famous pictures of the ferris wheel at Pripyat after the Chernobyl disaster?

After the jump, how does Secret World’s theme park measure up? Continue reading →