BGS 2019 Hands-on – Pacer

My favorite type of racing game, without a doubt, is futuristic racing. There’s something about the neck-bending track layouts, ship designs, and stupidly high speeds that has always captivated me ever since I was a kid. F-Zero GX, Wipeout, Star Wars Episode I: Racer, and many others, are among my favorite racing games of all time. Even though we’ve had a few titles like Fast RMX and Trailblazers over the past few years, I’ve always felt like more could be done with our current technology. I felt like this void had been filled after playing R8 Games’ Pacer at Brasil Game Show 2019.

Pacer is a clear love letter to futuristic racers of the past, most notably Wipeout. There are even some former Psygnosis members in the team, and that clearly shows after playing it. It plays similar to previous Wipeout games, but with some neat additions to make it stand out from the rest of the crowd.

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High speeds, crazy courses and a brutal AI competition. That’s all I need in a game like this.

While Pacer features collectable weapon icons throughout its courses, it doesn’t act like Wipeout or Mario Kart. You will always pick the same couple of weapons whenever you fly by these icons, as you have to select a loadout before each race. That adds an unheard of layer of strategy to your races: should you decide to pick up an offensive weapon, you can’t defend yourself once you reach first place. Should you decide to choose mines as your loadout, that means you’ll have a harder time reaching first place, but once doing so, you’ll be able to defend yourself from threats and maintain your advantage with ease.

The game’s developer informed me of a few of the modes they’re planning to include in the final release. The game will feature ten different career modes, one for each racing team you can join. The career mode won’t be long, acting more as a tutorial for the online multiplayer, which will feature typical modes like ranked races, tournaments, and leaderboards. The developers are also planning to include an odd but interesting Battle Royale-ish mode: a race set in an infinite loop in which racers need to remain inside a small zone in order to avoid receiving constant damage. Last one standing wins. This is not about being the fastest racer in the circuit, but being the best at managing your speed in order to stay inside the safe zone, all while trying to knock the competition out of said spot.

Now, the gameplay. I loved it. It’s everything I need from a racer like this: tight controls, a high and constant framerate, and a brutally challenging AI. The demo was hard, without a doubt, with the developers themselves saying that they should have lowered the difficulty a bit for the demo, but for someone who grew up playing the borderline unfair F-Zero games, I didn’t find Pacer‘s BGS demo to be that difficult. I ended up in fifth place on my first run ever, so I guess I did something right.

One thing that I found odd at first was the fact that the A button was used to accelerate, instead of the traditional triggers. It took me half a minute to realize why this was a good idea, however, as the triggers are used as airbrakes in order to help your ship perform sharp turns with ease. This is a game in which you’re supposed to run at the highest speed possible at all times, so there’s no need to bind the acceleration button to an analog trigger. The controls were very responsive and the game was locked at an impeccable 60fps at all times.

I didn’t know I needed Pacer until I finally played it. It is exactly the kind of racing game I’ve been looking forward to ever since playing the amazing, but still flawed, Fast RMX a few weeks ago. This is shaping up to become even faster, harder, and meatier when it comes to content. A game I heard so little about prior to playing at BGS 2019 ended up being my favorite demo from the entire show. That’s the beauty of indie gaming.

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