LifeisXbox’s PACER review | You might know this futuristic racer as Formula Fusion, I won’t go into detail as to why there is quite some negative history surrounding the developer R8 Games. A past they learned from and with a new start a new name, so PACER was born. It is literally impossible not to mention one of Playstation’s most interesting dormant franchises Wipeout when reviewing PACER, as it is highly influential and nearly the same experience in a modern gaming jacket.
We played PACER for over six hours on Xbox Series X, high-speeding around the world. This game is also available on Playstation and pc.
What we liked!
- A modern Wipeout! PACER’s incredible fast racing gameplay is smoking hot | When you have to deal with 800 per hour speeds your way of playing a racing game changes. Extreme precision is required and your natural instincts take over when you begin to memorize the track. It is even possible to reach supersonic speed in PACER so the crafts have some help with taking turns. With the RT and LT buttons, you are allowed to make tight sharp turns, even allowing you to keep mindboggling speeds when performing a hairpin turn. I won’t deny things here, you will need a lot of skill to keep up with the game’s speed. In the beginning, you’ll play with crafts capped at 400 per hour speeds, this is perfectly doable for everyone. This stage should actually be used to get familiar with the tracks! Things really become fun, or impossible when you take higher-speed classes. Most of you won’t survive long I’m afraid but that’s part of the fun, this challenging experience is made for the gaming’s elite. The delicate way of controlling your craft isn’t the only thing to keep in mind, as you’ll have boost pads and shield or weapon powerups to collect. As if dealing with the speed wasn’t enough you also have to fight and survive other racers. I found the combat element a bit disappointing as it misses a punch but luckily it isn’t really a necessity to fully enjoy PACER.
- Customizable loadouts | Changing the looks, performance, and weapon loadout give a bit of strategic depth to PACER. I wished the weapons mechanic was randomly placed on the tracks but R8 Games decided to work with fixed loadouts. You either love it or preferred it was different. Anyway, changing the look and performance in the garage is a fun thing to do and I easily spend almost an hour perfecting all my different crafts. The options available are quite large too and finding the perfect balance might take a few tries. While it might be tempting to have the most speedy machine this won’t allow for many mistakes as even scratching your craft against the wall can bring a huge unbalance, resulting in damage and a possible deadly engine explosion. I personally prefer to have full accurate control and some stronger shields to last longer. All of this can be unlocked with a currency that you get while playing, this is a slow process though so don’t expect to be able to buy everything within the first hours. Winning racer and finishing sponsored missions is how you get more currency to unlock sweet rewards!
- Game modes Flowmentum and a Battle-Royale inspired Storm Mode | The heart of PACER for me lies in the Flowmentum game mode, a mode that Wipeout players will be familiar with. Every gate you pass increases your speed. Making it harder the longer you survive, this is the essence of addictive gameplay as you will always want to improve your previous high score. Making the game feel modern comes with Storm Mode, a very original mode that drastically changes the way how you play PACER. Your mission is to stay within the bounds of a flying storm drone, when you fail to follow it you will take electricity damage. Important here is controlling your speed as driving too fast will get you out of bounds. Trying to be the sole surviving driver ain’t an easy task and I personally loved this battle-royal-inspired game mode! Besides the two previously mentioned modes you also have some traditional speed laps, elimination, or tournaments. So content-wise you have more than enough to play.
- CoLD SToRAGE, known from Wipeout’s soundtrack nails it completely with PACER | Thumbs up here for the varied use of beats. The gameplay gives you adrenaline but the epic soundtrack is another reason. It makes up for a pretty bland craft engine or surrounds sound. I loved the music, it never felt repetitive or out-of-place.
- Insane impressive track-design | While playing the first few hours I was telling my girlfriend that I had some similar feelings while playing PACER as sitting on a rollercoaster. For example The Flying Dutchman from The Efteling (The Netherlands) or Typhoon from Bobbejaanland (Belgium). At regular moments the track takes on shapes that at first don’t seem humanly possible. Turning the world around or making your craft pull high G-force numbers. 14 tracks that all feature some mind-blowing designs will test your ability of track-understanding and reflexes, all of them can be played in reverse and with a day/night option. So you could say it has a healthy number of different tracks. One of the first tracks you’ll play is also the most impressive one, to give the example again of the Flying Dutchman you’ll speed up over a ledge, see an impressive futuristic city vista and then suddenly drop a few meters and take a sharp turn. It is really good stuff and moments like this really give an adrenaline rush!
- Underwhelming combat | Problem with PACER’s combat is the lack of meaningful impact. Explosions or bullet effects have a little visual effect. The weapons themselves that you select in your load-outs aren’t very original either. I’m glad that you have some kind of depth with selecting your weapons but I might have preferred if they simply placed it randomly on the tracks. It would have caused that extra little mayhem and unpredictable gameplay. To make things worse, I often had the impression that my shots didn’t get registered by the game. As if by the speed force the explosions or bullets got reduced into nothing.
What we disliked
- Very confusing menu with sponsors | Menu’s, I can’t count how many games fail to present a clear one. This futuristic racer has that issue too. Contracts from sponsors show up while playing the career mode and to be honest, I had a hard time figuring them out. It is such a counterproductive way of showing side-missions… which is a shame cause the extra challenge is a perfect way to hold the player’s attention a bit longer.
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