PACER (Xbox One) Review

By Neil Flynn 27.06.2021

Review for PACER on Xbox One

The year is 2021, and maybe 40 years ago people had pipe dreams of humanity in flying cars and travelling the stars, at least for those who watched Back to The Future. What came next was a flurry of futuristic racers, some which really captivated audiences in the '90s and early '00s, such as those in the F-Zero, Wipeout, and the Xtreme G series, but as the seventh and eighth generation of consoles rolled around, the fanfare for high-speed thrills and cars that float began to dissipate and indie titles such as Redout and FAST RMX were left to fill the void. After such a long time stuck in development, Pacer has finally been released - the question is, does it quench the thirst for some much-needed G-force?

This isn't the first time Cubed3 has written about Pacer, as it was covered in 2019 with an interview with the Lead Designer, Carlton Gaunt. Pacer is exactly what fans of anti-gravity racers have been waiting for, essentially a spiritual successor to the Wipeout franchise. It cannot be denied that there can be easy to draw comparisons for the two games, such as the vehicle designs, the control of the craft, and attention to detail on the environments and tracks. Visually, Pacer looks gorgeous, the crafts themselves look awesome, and the scenic backgrounds show off the visual prowess that the developers have been working on for so long.

Screenshot for PACER on Xbox One

There are 14 tracks in here, although there are mirror and reverse and day/night versions which helps extend the variety on show, but adding to the mix are eight different race modes which can help invigorate each location with a new race type. Storm is particularly interesting, as racers need to stay in the eye of the storm to survive - a somewhat Fortnite-esque battle royale take on a racer. Endurance sees racers continually losing health as the race goes on, meaning that avoiding walls and collisions is paramount to survival. Destruction is a pure carnage death race, shooting other racers down to reach the points limit and secure the win. All of these modes, and more, are intertwined within the career mode, but can also be played within multiplayer, quick play or online.

Customisable features are a strong point of Pacer, set within the garage sub menu players are able to spend credits on a huge number of cosmetic, performance and weapon-based upgrades. Cosmetic modifications can be made to all parts of the vehicle, from the hood all the way to the exhaust. These don't have any impact on the stats of the craft - instead head to the Performance menu in the garage section to find a raft of potential upgrades to the engine, handling, braking, defence and anti-gravity features of the craft. Each upgrade has a ramification on its respective section, but bear in mind that upgrading one aspect of the craft may subtract abilities from others, thus making sure that each craft is tuned to be balanced is important.

Screenshot for PACER on Xbox One

Weapons are housed on either side of the vehicle and can be changed out for 11 offensive or defensive options. On top of this, the, there's also the further possibility to add up to two modifications for each weapon. Needless to say, there is a fair amount of customisable options in Pacer to build the ideal craft for each race, and luckily each one of these loadouts can be saved so that they have to be constantly selected. If all of this sounds like overkill, there are a number of pre-sets which would suit the average player just fine, although it is recommended to tinker with the various weapon and performance sets depending on the game mode, as some offer distinct advantages to completing particular missions.

Screenshot for PACER on Xbox One

Pacer straddles somewhere between fast arcade action and precision simulation racing, which can make it a tad frustrating for beginners and experts alike. A small, but irksome issue is that the trackside pick-ups can be quite small, which means it can be pretty easy to miss them - given that they aren't too plentiful this could help contribute to a bad run. Furthermore the AI also takes the same pick-up items, meaning that those right in front can consistently grab weapons leaving you without a leg to stand on. The pickups are often presented in a horizontal line across the track, however given that Pacer also plays like a simulation game, it is wise to try to stick as close to the racing line as possible, so deviating to get a weapon pick up might not be worthwhile, this is more of an issue on harder difficulties or particular modes like Destruction where a time limit and sparse weapon distribution can lead to a frustrating run.

The soundtrack features over a whopping 80 tracks from Cold Storage, Dub FX, Methlab, and more - most, if not all, fit into the genre of house/dubstep/drum 'n' bass. It isn't anything too spectacular, with a lot of the tunes often becoming somewhat samey, however with a huge number of tracks available, this would certainly appeal to those who love this genre. The audio can be slightly peculiar at times, with the songs often playing a little too quietly, and the noises of the engines drowning them out. The noise of the crafts doesn't sound particularly great or satisfying, but rather just a droning exhaust noise, but luckily the effects can be turned down in the options menu although this removes all of the effect noises in the game.

Screenshot for PACER on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Pacer successfully fills a gap in the market for high speed, anti-gravity racers. Those who are wishing for an experience reminiscent of the Wipeout series will be pleased on how this project has turned out. Tight and precise controls, matched up with a large assortment of maps and customised crafts makes for a very fulfilling experience. Issues such as those posed by hard-to-reach weapons can be overcome by practising and improving knowledge of each turn in every track - alas the lacklustre sound effects from the crafts is seemingly all that is available. These tiny issues aside Pacer makes good on its promise, even if it took a long time to get there.

Developer

R8 Games

Publisher

R8 Games

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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