Pacer – Review
Follow Genre: Racing, Arcade
Developer: R8 Games Limited
Publisher: R8 Games Limited
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PS5

Pacer – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Gameplay, Blast from the past with modern mechanics
Bad: No local co-op, Loading times
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

In the late 90s, we had a massive influx of futuristic race games, and some of them are still ranked highly amongst the best racing games ever made. The Nintendo 64 alone boosted its games library with WipeOut 64, AeroGauge and F-Zero X. While fairly similar from afar, each game had its own unique mechanics and gameplay elements, making them memorable experiences. This time, we seemingly dive back into the 90s with Pacer, albeit with updated graphics and expansive management options.

Story

While there is a career mode in the game, a story element to carry you through is absent. This, of course, is not an issue for a game such as this. The career mode mainly serves as a structured mode for you to get credits and unlock new parts and tracks while doing so.

Graphics

Graphically Pacer is a very attractive game. While not overly detailed, the different vehicles have a lot of blank surfaces, creating a sort of low-poly look while not being exactly that. The tracks are very diverse, which was also very common for the aforementioned games. Each track has its unique backdrop and often even a completely different color palette. This makes it very fun to explore the different tracks, even though there’s no real time to call it ‘exploring’ in the midst of a (battle) race. We wouldn’t immediately dub it a next-gen title, but thanks to the game’s chosen style, it can get away with a lot.

Sound

The sound design is Pacer is quite nice. You’ll have proper futuristic sound effects that literally propel you forward. This goes hand in hand with the many noises of you crashing into the walls while using sci-fi weapons on your opponents. Nonetheless, it’s actually the soundtrack that truly gets you going. The music is upbeat and a bit in your face, making you truly riled up to blow up your opponents while aiming to finish first.

Gameplay

Pacer is a futuristic arcade racing game, with some vehicular combat aspects, as well as some management factors to customize your build(s) for different events. The overall offset is quite clear, as you’ll have to play a lot to unlock all tracks, different vehicle parts and weapons. It will take a bit of time to get used to the pacing of the game, as many modern racing titles handle differently.

While the game looks very simple at first, it does get a bit more complex, as you can tinker around with the different vehicles, altering their stats, as well as their firepower. This makes it so that you can actually adjust to the track of your choice, or even adjust to your skill level. When you reach a point that you are well-versed to beat your AI opponents, you can add defensive items to your craft, rather than add the big guns. For online play, you’ll of course have to choose whatever suits you best.

Even though we tried out Pacer on the PlayStation 5, it could actually use a patch for more optimized play on the next-gen. We realize this is a PlayStation 4 title, but the loading times are quite long, especially if you include the first few seconds of the repeating cinematic you get before each track as well. While you can ultimately skip the latter, the first few seconds you cannot. Also, the game has weird bugs, where it doesn’t respond to button presses in the menu, and if you accidentally have two controllers turned on, it will swap back and forth between them with no rhyme or reason. You’ll actually even have to completely turn off your PS5 to fix this bug.

We were quite disappointed that there are no offline multiplayer functions. Sure, you can play online, but with racing games such as this, local play also matters a lot. It’s not a heavy sim experience, so the argument of the PS4 not being able to handle the game with two players would be complete and utter bullshit. We feel that local play is often neglected in racing games nowadays, and it just feels like developers are getting lazy or out of touch with the people they actually sell their games to.

Conclusion

Pacer is a near-perfect racing experience that could easily become an arcade classic in a few decades. Sadly, the lack of a local co-op option is a huge shame for a game such as this, immediately deducting something from an otherwise perfect score. The grind may be slow, but mastering the different tracks, as well as managing different load-outs is very rewarding. If you grew up with games such as WipeOut, AeroGauge or F-Zero X, you’ll have so much fun with this game.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Pacer - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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