- Release Date (NA): October 29, 2020
- Release Date (EU): October 29, 2020
- Release Date (JP): October 29, 2020
- Publisher: R8 Games Limited
- Developer: R8 Games Limited
- Genres: Racing
- Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Racing games have gotten a bit stale lately. I'm not saying there aren't any good racing games, in fact, quite the contrary - franchises such as Forza, Project Cars, Gran Turismo get regular releases, often with great reviews. Even Need for Speed has made a comeback with NFS Heat being decent. All current AAA racing franchises, with Mario Kart being an exception, are based in realistic environments with real cars. This is great for people who are interested in arcade racing with realistic elements. However, many gamers crave anti-grav arcade racing at ridiculous speeds. Franchises such as Wipeout and F-Zero have been on a hiatus for quite some time, with the former having its last release back in 2017. Thankfully, R8 Games comes in to revive the genre with Pacer (formerly known as Formula Fusion).
Pacer picks up where Wipeout left off in terms of gameplay. You still have fast moving futuristic anti-grav vehicles traveling at ridiculously high speeds (often over 500km/h), along with weapons you can equip to eliminate opponents. The game offers a variety of modes, including the standard three lap races against ten opponents, time trials, elimination, along with some more original and interesting modes. My favorite one is 'Flowmentum', a mode where you just travel through the map as fast as you can, while becoming even faster. Pacer also includes a career mode, which starts off with a tutorial that teaches you the basics of racing, abilities and vehicle customization.
The core gameplay is fun. Controls are responsive, handling is decent depending on your setup. Getting first place isn't the only objective you should be striving for, something you'd want to look out on is your health and shields. Be it from your own poor driving or your enemies attacking you with their weapons, you might lose shields, and after that - your health, which, unlike the former, cannot be replenished by pick-ups. Unlike it's spiritual predecessor Wipeout, weapons aren't pickups in Pacer. Instead, they are equipped in the customization tab, along with available modifications to them. This adds a layer of strategy to the race. You have weapons that deal damage at a long rage, with modifiers that make them into homing missiles, machine guns, and there's even the ability to drain shields from your opponents.
In Pacer, hindsight is key. When you're traveling at speeds over 500km/h regularly, you sometimes need to make a turn earlier than you'd think. This is exacerbated even more when playing on higher difficulties, of which there are four - F3000, F2000, F1000 and "Elite". Like Wipeout, Pacer is a difficult game to get into. However, once you get the hang of it, making difficult turns flawlessly is going to be quite satisfying.
R8 Games promises to continue adding more cosmetics and maps, vowing to never add pay-2-win mechanisms in the game. Everything, ranging from tracks to specific vehicle modifications, can be bought through credits which can be obtained by completing races.
Multiplayer is something I'd love to talk about if I could get it running. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, I could not get into a single online match. Pacer offers matchmaking, along with community lobbies you could just join in to. However, as I previously mentioned, I couldn't get into either due to server issues. I do not know if this is an issue on my end, since there seem to be players in the lobbies I attempt to join in, but I don't have the time frankly to figure it out. If R8 Games fixes the issue, I will update the review accordingly.
Graphics & Sound
Running on Unreal Engine 4, Pacer is full of pleasant visuals. It's nothing fancy, with no ray-tracing to be seen, however, it's a definite upgrade to all previous entries in the genre. Running on the recommended specs, I get over 60fps regularly, ranging from 80-100fps at almost highest settings. Environments are rich and full of detail, including the vehicles themselves along with the different effects weapon systems create.
Alongside the visuals, Pacer is backed by a great soundtrack done by Tim 'CoLD SToRAGE' Wright, who worked on the Wipeout games. If you like high BPM electronic tracks, you should definitely check out Pacer's soundtrack. A lot of good gems here. Sound effects are crisp and clean, though in some instances I encountered a bug where some sound effects wouldn't play. Pacer also does this neat thing where the background music becomes more pronounced the faster you go.
Fans of Wipeout and F-Zero should rejoice as they have finally a modern installment to their beloved genre. Pacer delivers on what it promised - being a high quality anti-grav racing game, albeit not AAA-level, nor does it really need to be. There's no overtly dramatic story mode with motion captured actors, but this game doesn't really need it. Here's hoping the success of this game will reignite the anti-grav racing genre and bring back some of the abandoned franchises (I'm looking at you, F-Zero!).
Be sure to check out the official video review of Pacer!
- Great Gameplay
- Decent Graphics
- Large Variety of Tracks
- Great Music
- Poor Online Multiplayer
- Limited Customization Options