Every racing fan should try this

Pacer Review: A Combat Racer for WipEout Fans

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Pacer channels WipEout vibes

The return of futuristic racers is now: Pacer is here. (Image Credit: R8 Games)

After being postponed numerous times, the combat racer Pacer is finally available for download. We put ourselves behind the cockpit of the futuristic gliders for you and tell you if the racing game is worthwhile.

The futuristic racing game Pacer should have been released in September, but then it had to be postponed again shortly before release. In August, we gave you some impressions of the new pacey racer in our preview. Now the game is finally finished and, in our Pacer review, we'll give you five reasons why you should take a closer look at the game.

Pacer Quick Facts

  • Developer: R8 Games
  • Genre: Racing
  • Release: October 29
  • Players: 1-10

Pacer Gameplay Preview from EarlyGame on Vimeo.

Pacer Gameplay

1. Pacer Has Serious WipEout Vibes

If you grew up with the first PlayStation, chances are you're familiar with the legendary WipEout series: It's all about futuristic gliders going at quadrillion miles per hour, dueling with a variety of weapons on narrow tracks, supported by some serious electro beats.

Well: All this also applies to Pacer. It is obvious that the developers of R8 Games worked on WipEout in the past. The feel of Pacer is strikingly reminiscent of the legendary racing game series and that's a very positive thing. You race through chic sci-fi scenarios at almost 2,000 mph, collect power-ups that you then use against other drivers and try to be the first to cross the finish line.

A snowy track on Pacer - WipEout's spiritual successor

Pacer feels as good as WipEout once did. (Image Credit: R8 Games)

2. Pacer is Easy to Pick Up & Play

How are you supposed to stay in control at such a speed, you may ask yourself? But don't worry: it's a lot easier than it first seems. Thanks to precise and intuitive controls, even racing game amateurs can celebrate first successes within a very reasonable time frame.

One button is used to accelerate, the controller's two triggers are for the left and right brakes respectively and pressing both triggers brings your glider to a halt in a fraction of a second. This is partly necessary to master the tight curves without collision with the track boundary. Two buttons for the optional (but always useful) weapons and power-ups complete the control scheme of Pacer.

Even the simple game principle is quickly internalized: Depending on the game mode, the aim is to finish the race first, survive the longest or achieve the fastest lap time. No vehicle setups, no secret tricks - just you and the race. This simplicity is refreshing compared to other modern racers.

Pacer has great gameplay and intuitive controls

Accelerating, braking, cornering... beauty often lies within simplicity. (Image Credit: R8 Games)

3. An Indie Has Never Looked This Good

Despite being an indie game with far less budget than all the AAA games out there, Pacer looks really good. Racing at unholy speeds always looks crisp and clean.

The graphics of the vehicle models convince with meticulous details, while the special effects are also convincing. It's easy to get over the fact that the graphics fall off once you look beyond the track. To be fair though: At around 1,000 km/h there is hardly any time to take in the sights around you anyway. It has to be said though that the WipEout Omega Collection looked better about three years ago.

There is little to complain about in the sound department: Scores are strong all throughout the 80-track electro soundtrack. Although it falls slightly short of the higher-budgeted WipEout. Still, the music skillfully underlines the events on the screen.

Source: R8 Games - YouTube

4. Variety With a Capital VARIETY

When we previewed the game, we were still a little skeptical about the long-term motivation and 'replayability' of Pacer. Now it's clear: The variety is really quite impressive. Sure: Only 5 gliders and 14 tracks are nothing to write home about, but Pacer makes up for this with extensive customization options.

You can equip your gliders with different weapons, adapt vehicle parts for certain game modes and choose between specially created presets at the push of a button. We like. There's also a lot to discover in terms of game modes, although you shouldn't expect a re-invented wheel here or anything of the sorts. No matter though because all modes are equally fun.

The Battle Royale variant 'Storm' is also exciting - at least once you internalize the principle. That's an area where Pacer comes short: It is stingy with explanations and tutorials.
In Storm, it is important to stay in the safe area with your glider. If you move away from the zone, the storm will constantly drain your shields and send your glider into the afterlife. A successful and drastic alternative to the other, more classic game modes.

Pacer Storm Battle-Royale Gameplay

Storm is all about keeping your glider safe and surviving. (Image Credit: R8 Games)

5. Simply Put: Pacer is Just Fun

Yes, Pacer has rough edges and they're fairly evident. It is simply not a AAA racing game, so there is no fancy campaign, and the presentation is... functional.

All that doesn't matter though, because this new combat racer gets one thing right: it is a lot of fun
. An uncomplicated, almost classically simple racing game that is easy to learn, but still offers enough depth for tactics.

Those who loved the WipEout series should definitely take a closer look at Pacer
. Not only because the two games have a lot in common, but because there is almost no racer of this kind left. Pacer shows that the genre is far from dead. It's definitely worth buying for a few rounds of high-speed racing every once in a while. Pacer offers quick and satisfying action that you'll enjoy for a long time.

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Philipp Briel

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