There are game series that have been with me for a damn long time. When it comes to racing games, F-Zero and WipEout are definitely one of them. With the SNES version of the former, I still play a few rounds every year to this day. Whereby GX is of course also damn good. When it comes to WipEout, on the other hand, I have particularly fond memories of 2097. Only the frame rate is, at least on the original hardware, no longer the yellow of the egg. Apart from that, WipEout is still a lot of fun for me, part two in particular. It is all the more disappointing that both series will no longer be continued. After all, Anti Grav Racing fans have been receiving continuous supplies for some time. Last but not least, there is the really good FAST RMX by Shin’en, which a colleague (whose name should not be named) underestimated by at least 5%. Or Redout. The newest candidate in the bunch is PACER from R8Games. Some old WipEout makers hide behind this name and even Tim “CoLD SToRAGE” Wright, the former Psygnosis house musician (pun intended) contributes his part to the soundtrack. It should actually be good, right?
In fact, once we get into the glider for the first test race, one or the other WipEout vibe comes up. The handling, including air brakes on the triggers, brings back clear memories and even the feeling of weight reminds me most of WipEout. And of course, there’s the stick layout, which, surprise, is also reminiscent of WipEout. The winding, jumpy tracks have a lot in common with the template in terms of the whole layout. Unlike FAST RMX, for example, which is most likely to take examples from the newer F-Zero parts.
But WipEout also means the use of weapons. Even the first part had a little bit of Mario Kart for young adults. But PACER is taking a different approach here. There are loadouts. We can also create them ourselves. Mini gun, guided missile, mine, energy lasso and more are available, but we can only place two of them on our bumpers or L1 and R1. If we collect an orange weapon item on the track, then the shooters will be unlocked and we can use them. Incidentally, mods can also be bought with the race earnings. Incidentally, there is no longer an energy tank strip. We charge our shield with purple items. In higher racing classes in particular, it is important to remember more than just the track layout. Of course there are the classic acceleration arrows. But as the race progresses, we also charge our Kers Boost. Especially when using the air brake. This brings another tactical note into play.
If we choose quick play then we can choose from a whole series of racing events, races of course, eliminator, time trials, but also events like zone races, storm (we have to stay in the ever-shrinking eye of the storm) or a stealth time trial where as soon as we are visibly raked in by guns. There are also endurance races, in which we constantly have to recharge our declining shield.
In the career races of the campaign, on the other hand, we have to deal with the race categories as they are presented to us. This can also be a bit tough at times, because PACER is not light, despite the rubber band AI. In order to progress, we always have to get a place on the podium. Unlike WipEout, we can choose performance profiles for our gliders, such as high speed or defensive. This can also be extremely important here, because one route is best covered at high speed and the next with agility.
That does not fit
Unfortunately, within your career you can only work through what is put in front of you. influence the order? isn’t. A race category doesn’t suit me? Bad luck, bite through or die. I would have liked to have had at least a few setting options here. Apart from that, the career mode is a bit unloving, at least compared to titles from the heyday of the late 90s and early 2000s. A completely different question, are the tracks in the fast classes just too narrow or am I just getting too old? If I play the WipEout episodes, which I know well, then I have less problems with the good old gang ping-pong, but at the same time I feel like a deep-seated muscle memory is taking hold. My body still seems to know the old slopes years later. That’s just not the case with PACER. The 14 routes are clear for me. Forward, backward, mirrored and at different times of the day there is enough variety.
The situation is different with the meager selection of gliders, which also hardly set any visual highlights. Only five optical variants are already thin anyway. In addition, unfortunately, it is precisely here that the competition has been visually more imaginative in recent years. Apart from that, some texts are difficult to read depending on the distance to the TV and, which is really annoying, not only the sound itself is above average, but above all the sound effects in the preset.
And why the hell do I have to spend so much time unlocking or buying the tracks for fast racing, which in turn requires me to drive a hell of a lot?
What is also worth mentioning is that the online multiplayer could not be tested due to a lack of players on the Xbox, so we will only submit a multiplayer rating at a later date.
One of the advantages of PACER is definitely that it runs smoothly even on the basic consoles, PS4One owners don’t have to worry for once. This is partly due to the fact that PACER was also planned for low-end PCs from the start. To compensate, there are no next-gen improvements either. Not even HDR. Bottom line is that I don’t find PACER any prettier than FAST RMX, which was basically a revamped Wii U game. Sure, there are fancier shadows and high-resolution textures here, enough building around the edges, and a more ‘realistic’ look instead of the colorful, arcadian look of FAST. And yes, I like the course design itself at PACER. In many areas, the optical style actually looks like a nineties racing game would have liked. But don’t stop with FAST’s candy-colored arcade look, but rather the more realistic, sometimes dark and occasionally neon look of WipEout. The whole thing is garnished with lettering and signs from Designers Republic. Actually only the whole Red Bull advertising is missing. Not that I would drink the stuff. But then I miss wow effects and optical highlights a little. And I miss next-gen updates on the Series X here anyway.
What is impressive is the soundtrack. It may have to do without Chemical Brothers or The Prodigy, but it offers a lot more selection besides the tracks from CoLD StoRAGE. We can listen to a total of around 100 pieces, but we don’t have to. Because if you don’t like it, you can throw it out of the track list. Of course it could be stupid if you hate electronic music. If that’s not the case, then there’s no real reason to complain here. Well, that doesn’t really sound like the 90s anymore. Even a Tim Wright just kept evolving.
I like PACER. However, it didn’t grab me as much as, say, WipEout 2097, or even as much as Pulse. At least not yet. Because I still want to stay on the ball. But none of that is modern. The online part will not change anything about that. Shortly before release, the Xbox version runs bug-free for me. That’s currently worth something. What would I have wished for? A better and more beautifully presented career, for example. More appealing gliders, for example. Especially when you build so many reminiscences to WipEout. The nitpicking that it takes to unlock everything for Quick Races in the beginning is also more annoying here than unlocking everything in FAST RMX. The bottom line is that the whole package is still more than enough fun for me in the old-fashioned way.
Presentation (graphics, sound)
Successful driving/flying behavior
Good route selection
Somewhat loveless career
Weak glider selection
Clean but not too detailed graphics