While many of us fans of futuristic high-speed racing games have been waiting years for a new F-Zero or Wipeout game we haven’t been starved too much. Many other developers have been putting out games that are very similar such as Redout, Antigraviator, and Fast RMX among others. Five years ago, developer R8 Games launched a Kickstarter for their own Wipeout spiritual successor called Formula Fusion. It has taken awhile to get here and has even been renamed to Pacer during that time but now that I got hands on with it for this review does it deliver the high-speed thrills that Wipeout fans may be seeking?
I’ll start by talking about the career mode inside Pacer as it’s the best place to start seeing as much of the content for the other modes has to be unlocked by playing this. Playing through this you’ll race through the fourteen different tracks in the game with several variants being available for them. I liked most of the track designs but some of them did seem to be designed in a way where it was too easy to be hitting the walls which was a little irritating. Each of the tracks can also be played at day or night or even mirrored. You’ll join several different teams during this mode and have to win and complete bonus objectives in races to earn more money. The game also includes four different speed classes and I don’t recommend starting off with the fastest unless you want to find yourself bouncing off walls and damaging your craft.
Speaking of crafts, Pacer has five different pilotable crafts for you to use each of which has their own stats. While playing the game you can earn money that you can then head to the garage and spend to modify them. One of the big things in Pacer is loadouts and you can set up your own custom ones or use one of the several presets they give you. Some are better at speed while others have better handling but if you need something a bit different you can make a custom one and outfit it with parts that you buy. Different weapon loadouts can also be set so if you want a loadout focused on attacking you can do that or do one that focuses on defensive weapons instead. There is a lot of room for customization here and it gives you a lot of control over how you take on each of the races.
I found the controls to have a great arcade feel to them as I raced through these tracks. Depending on what weapons you selected for your craft you can fire them with the L1 and R1 buttons and pick up more ammo on the track. Shields can also be picked up and you’ll need them to survive the attacks of the AI or other players. AI difficulty felt good and while there is some slight rubber banding at play here it wasn’t as bad as what I’ve seen in some other games.
When you finish the career mode you can dive into one of the other play options the game has. Quick race lets you play on any track in several different game types. There are also options you can toggle like whether or not to have weapons enabled, whether to race in daylight or night, and how many players you want to race against. The different game types include Elimination which keeps eliminating the player in last place until only one is racing. Destruction is a mode where the player with the most takedowns wins while Speed Lap awards the player with the best lap time the victory. Flowmentum has you racing to see how many gates you can get through with the speed increasing with each one you pass. Storm is a battle royale-esque mode where players have to stay inside a shrinking bubble. Those last two are the more unique modes in the game and I had a lot of fun in both of them. Online multiplayer is also available for up to 10 players but during my time playing it I didn’t see a lot of other people on there.
The visuals in Pacer looked really good running on my PlayStation 4 Pro. Every one of the track environments looked good, with a special callout to the lighting while racing at night, and there is plenty of detail in the different playable ships. Even more importantly the game runs at a super smooth 60 frames-per-second. Another area that R8 Games absolutely nails in Pacer is the soundtrack. The game includes over 80 tracks in total headlined by none other than CoLd SToRAGE. Having them in this game makes it feel even closer to a Wipeout game and almost every track included is a great pick. Finally, those interested in the trophies will find 34 of them here including a Platinum trophy. It’s a solid list that will challenge you but sadly a couple of the trophies appear to be bugged at the moment as fulfilling the requirements didn’t unlock them. Hopefully they get patched so that the trophy hunters can add the shiny Pacer Platinum to their collection.
Fans of games like Wipeout should have no qualms about picking up Pacer as it is a fast and smooth spiritual successor to that franchise. It’s got a nice set of tracks, modes, and weapons and it looks great and sounds great throughout. I wouldn’t recommend it over the Wipeout Omega Collection on PlayStation 4 but if you’ve already played that and are looking for another game with a similar style then Pacer won’t disappoint.
*Pacer is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.