Review – Pacer

One of my favorite surprises from last year’s Brasil Game Show was Pacer. It was a clear love letter to games like F-Zero and Wipeout, and was even developed by former developers of the latter. I wasn’t expecting much from that then-unknown game, but I was greeted with a meaty demo showcasing a brutally challenging yet fast-paced racer that definitely scratched my neverending, futuristic racing game itch. The game was subsequently delayed countless times, but it’s finally here, and I could finally tackle its full version. It was worth the wait.


Appreciate the view while it lasts. You’ll be on the other side of the track before you blink your eye.

Gameplay-wise, Pacer was exactly what I was expecting. It is basically an even more challenging version of Wipeout with a focus on building loadouts for your ship and customizing it before you race. This allows you to come up with your own strategy. You don’t pick up different weapons during a race. There is only one kind of weapon icon scattered throughout the tracks, which acts as a kind of ammo for you to use with either your right or left weapon, which are assigned to the R1 and L1 buttons, respectively. You can also collect shield pickups, as you’re obviously going to be constantly pummeled by other racers.

Besides these two mechanics, as well as the ability to turn your braking power into an additional boost like a Formula 1 car, that’s basically Pacer‘s gameplay in a nutshell. A simple, somewhat arcade-friendly yet stupidly challenging racer that runs at a blistering fast framerate, for the most part. There are a few drops here and there, but they’re rare and don’t impact the gameplay that much. The overall graphics are pretty good, even if the game’s overall speed just doesn’t let you pay attention to your surroundings that well. Plus the soundtrack is what you would expect from a Wipeout-inspired game: loud, abrasive, and fast-paced electronic music.


Your ships have a KERS booster, just like a Formula 1 car.

There aren’t that many glaring issues with Pacer. I did have a hard time with its control scheme at first, since the acceleration command was assigned to the X button, and not the R2 trigger as one would have expected, but I eventually got used to it. Using the R2 and L2 trigger to help turn during tight corners feels equally intuitive, to be fair. The only big issue I have with Pacer, however, is in its progression system.

This is a challenging game that locks the vast majority of its Quick Play tracks and ships behind in-game currency that needs to be acquired by beating cups and tournaments in the Career mode. This is something that can end up frustrating players who are just seeking for some arcade-friendly fun, only to find out they have to grind quite a bit in order to unlock more than the three tracks that are initially available outside of the Career mode. With that being said, one should know what to expect from a game like Pacer. It, like its sources of inspiration, is meant to be brutally challenging, so newcomers beware.


They’re not exactly friendly neighbors.

Pacer is not something that’s going to reinvent the wheel, but it’s a fine addition to an otherwise criminally overlooked subgenre. It’s a game with a lengthy career mode, wacky courses, a brutal difficulty curve, and a smooth performance; pretty much everything you’d want in a futuristic racer like this. Is it better than F-Zero or Wipeout? No, nor it was intended to be. Is it a great alternative to PS4 and Xbox owners who don’t have access to Fast RMX? Absofreakinglutely. This one will most certainly satiate any futuristic racing fan’s hunger for a while.


Graphics: 8.0

Courses are detailed and varied, even if you don’t necessarily have a lot of time to pay attention to them, given how fast-paced this game is. The framerate is locked at a buttery smooth 60fps.

Gameplay: 8.0

Fast, fluid, and responsive. It’s everything that a game like this needs, but it does feature a very puzzling button layout that will confuse players at first.

Sound: 8.0

Following in Wipeout‘s footsteps, Pacer‘s soundtrack is comprised of tons of fast-paced electronic beats that fit perfectly with the game’s setting. They’re not exactly the most memorable songs out there, though.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Exactly what you would expect from a Wipeout spiritual successor: well-designed tracks, tons of customization options, blistering speeds, and a borderline brutal level of difficulty. It does feature a questionable progression system, though.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Pacer is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Pacer was provided by the publisher.