TL;DR: Pacer is a beautifully crafted anti-gravity racer that's hampered by seriously bad AI and handling. Wait for it to go on sale before giving it a try.
It seems game developers just can’t feel good about themselves these days unless it has a futuristic racing game in its lineup. However, in their mad dash to get into the proverbial race, some developers have forgotten how to make it fun. At least, that’s what seems to have happened to R8 Games and their latest offering, Pacer.
At first glance, one would think Pacer was an identical clone to Wipeout. The first few trailers looked absolutely snazzy, with a slick interface, beautifully rendered graphics, and cool pumping tunes. Yet, all of Pacer’s glitz appear to be little more than a vain attempt to hide the fact it has virtually very little replay value.
I don’t want to sound so harsh on Pacer, but I sincerely wish that the developers had devoted the same amount of effort to the gameplay as it did with the graphics.
You can choose from up to five (5) anti-gravity vehicles with their own distinct set of strengths and weaknesses. Some are fast but offer less maneuverability, while others handle like a dream but sacrifice speed and endurance in the process. You can race in tournament or practice mode in which you’ll need to finish in the top spots to move on to the next course.
From the surface, it looks like Pacer has pretty much everything going for it, right? Well, in a sense, yes, but the game is hampered by an almost non-existent AI that allows you to finish a race in the first place. And I’m not just talking about outracing your opponent and beating them by the thinnest of margins, I mean a race in which you win by a very large gap. I’m not a big fan of rubber-banding AI, but if implemented here, it would at least make the races feel more competitive.
I don’t want to sound so harsh on Pacer, but I sincerely wish that the developers had devoted the same amount of effort to the gameplay as it did with the graphics. It’s a shame really because it had the hallmarks of being a true successor to one of the best futuristic racers of all time. If you’re looking for a Wipeout-inspired game, you’re better off playing BallisticNG. As for me, I’ll stick with the original Wipeout.