Pacer (PC)

Previously known as Formula Fusion back in 2015 until rebranded last year, Pacer is a futuristic racing game from R8 studios that looks to offer a new place to race for those starved of some quality AG. Originally set for a full release during September, a quiet delay till the end of October will no doubt have left some wondering if it’s worth the wait? Let’s find out..

Set in 2075, The PACER World Championship is the new anti-gravity sensation that sees corporations from around the globe pitting their teams against others for the coveted championship. This means 10 teams with 5 sanctioned AG craft types will race on 14 tracks (with numerous variables for each one) around the world in the race for first place.

The general structure of the game and the UI in general is where the biggest improvements probably come for this re-release. Everything looks a lot more slick compared to the ghetto UI before, with track lore and team information now available to read before racing. The career mode is now a little more fleshed out and the credits earned during races can be used to open new tracks etc, so there’s plenty to play through offline. Luckily you can also head online & spend even more of your time on the track, 10 players can battle out for bragging rights with the likes of voice chat supported too

Unsurprisingly for a game that’s been around for a few years now, the latest build offers a fresh lick of paint for the game too. It can look pretty good at times now with some great texture work & visual effects, the stages themselves have seen numerous improvements to flesh out their spectacle. The world has a very Wipeout Fusion look to it with regards to the environment designs and palette, probably due to the likes of The Designers Republic (designed marketing & assets for the Without series) contributing to the game alongside staff that had worked on Wip3out. Most things seem grounded in reality instead of extravagantly designed which is always a plus for me with these type of racers.

The real standout is the soundtrack, featuring the likes of Cold Storage, with a vibe that’s perfectly fitting & better than most AG racers out there. Performance is relatively easy to nail down, my system (R51600/16GB/5700XT) couldn’t quite pull off a locked 60 at 4K with all the settings cranked up, but dropping down to an ultrawide res pretty much sorted that as well as offering a wider view for some of the track vista’s.

Sure the game plays similar to Wipeout as expected with regards to the racing, but which one? Each Wipeout tends to have a different feel to it, something most people tend to forget, with Pacer feeling most similar to Wipeout Fusion than the earlier games to me. That means slick & speedy racing that’s a little more forgiving when it comes to hitting a wide line. A few tweaks to the formula here give you a boost that can be used when charged up enough, and pickups on the stage for weapons or to boost your shield when running low. You’ll make more use of these in modes other than racing mainly, with the likes of endurance & elimination offering variety alongside a couple of unique modes inspired by other AG racers.

Part of the games variety also comes from the various ship classes available to pick from before an event. Instead of having a single ship for each team, you’ll usually get to pick from a few. Each has it’s own stats and available weapons via your chosen loadout with the race type usually dictating your choice. The game does also allow for some customisation too in the garage mode, with players able to create a new look for the craft as well as tune some of its parameters to squeeze out more performance

When it comes to AG racing, Pacer gets right the most important aspects with regards to graphics, sound & how it feels on the track. The biggest surprise though is how much of an improvement the rest of the package has seen over the Formula Fusion builds, with the game now sporting a slick look that wasn’t there before. Certainly worth a look for fans of AG racing.

4

Summary

Like Herbie, what started off as a bit of a rust bucket with heart is now a championship racer with a fresh lick of paint. 

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Geoffrey Wright

Rocking the world of gaming since the Atari 2600, has now settled down to bask in the warmth of moe. Moe is life for a moe connoisseur.