Pacer could be the WIPEOUT sequel we deserve - it just needs to be FASTER

Needs more speed to hit 1st place next month

Racing games used to be everywhere at one time. From the standard rally-racers to futuristic environments with all the plasma-missiles that one would try to aim with.

One game seems to be aware of this lull, and thanks to some members who worked on Wip3out back in 1999, R8 Games are bringing a game called ‘Pacer’ into the racing-genre for next month.

A game that was originally called ‘Formula Fusion’, it was wisely changed to reflect the Wipeout-inspired environment, weapons and even music. We’ve been playing a preview build in the last week thanks to the team at R8 Games, and we have some thoughts before its release next month on the 17th September.

Could this be a game to surpass the Wipeout series and revitalise the genre? Or should we just stick to playing Wip3out on our PS Vitas for the foreseeable.

88MPH of Plasma

It’s a game that’s had it’s fair share of struggles behind the scenes, ever since it launched as a Kickstarter back in 2015. But since a change in direction and a name-change from its ‘Early Access’ days, its become a game to watch.

We were able to play a multitude of modes across four tracks, each with their own style and atmosphere which really set it apart from its ‘Wipeout’ ancestors. In those games you felt as though every track was similar in appearance, and only different in its turns and drops, but not here, which is very welcome. Every track had its own characteristics and charm that made you look forward to what the next track was going to look like, and play like.

I remember playing a build of ‘PACER’ last year at the ‘PLAY EXPO’ in Manchester and having a good time, but just wanting the ships to *feel* faster. Part of what made these genre of racing games fun were its speed, from F-Zero X to the ‘Zone’ mode from Wipeout Fusion.

If you’re getting Wipeout vibes, then you’d be correct

Fast forward to 2020 and there’s been significant upgrades to this, alongside the graphics and even the AI; playing Destruction and Elimination brought back great memories of WipeOut 2097 and its other entries, while Flowmentum is clearly ‘Zone’ mode but for 2020.

Playing the game through a ‘Dual Shock 4’ was fantastic, and I highly recommend finding a controller to play this if you don’t have one as yet. Although, I found myself pressing on the right trigger to accelerate rather than ‘Cross’, and I didn’t know there was another button for another weapon on the ship until the second lap of my first race. It could be great if the controls were slightly refined here, or even as a pop-up when someone begins their first race to let them know that the triggers aren’t just air-brakes and there’s more than one weapon to fire.

Another aspect that I found strange, was that the ships still don’t feel ‘fast’ enough for whatever reason. That feeling of controlling the ship when using a ‘boost’ item or hovering over a ‘boost’ mark on the track, although fine, I’m not sure whether I’m just too used to games like Burnout and even Star Wars: Pod Racer with their instant-high-speeds. But depending on whether I’m being an ‘old man yells at cloud’ here, just crank up the speed of the ships and it could be even more pressure-intensive and above all, fun.

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Shields Up

You may have noticed by now that the word ‘Wipeout’ appears in this preview, perhaps more often than it should, but it can’t be helped. This is a game born out of love for that franchise by Psygnosis/SCE Studio Liverpool, and it’s still baffling to me that Sony haven’t even considered having a new Wipeout entry as a PlayStation 5 launch title.

But PACER may be able to scratch that itch for many when it releases next month. It’s been a very long road to make it to release-day, but the end is in sight, and what’s coming is a worthy-successor to what came before. The music is also worth a mention, with too many artists to count to give the game its own unique style, and makes you want to see if a vinyl featuring all the music will be available next month.

If there’s a vinyl coming with the music, it would be most welcome

If the controls and the speed could just be refined, this could be a game long-remembered, and even revive the futuristic-racing genre that’s been absent for far too long.

The design of the ships, the music, the many modes available and the multiplayer is a great time, it just needs those few refinements to make it a game to stand tall as a Christmas gift to someone.

But so far PACER, so good. Let’s just crank up the speed a bit more and see how the game fares when its released next month.

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