Pacer E3 Preview: Zero-G Racing Is Back

by David Sanchez June 25, 2019 @ 9:54 pm

There’s a very distinct lack of zero-gravity racers these days. Sure, it’s always been somewhat of a niche sub-genre, but it almost seems like the days of Wipeout and F-Zero are but distant memories. Pacer from R8 Games — which consists of ex-Wipeout developers — looks to bring that deliciously outrageous high-speed racing back into the fold. Previously titled Formula Fusion, the game has since been rebranded, with the dev team looking to create something both nostalgic and new for racing fans in search of something a little different.

Redefined and Refined

I raced through a few tracks during my meeting with R8 Games at E3 earlier this month, and the biggest thing I noticed was how tight the gameplay and controls felt. Guiding my zero-gravity craft felt great, with every movement being smooth and responsive. You’re going to want solid controls, too, because Pacer is not an easy racing game to play. There’s a bit of a learning curve associated with maneuvering your craft, and if you’re too reckless, you’ll go drifting into a wall and lose a ton of momentum.

As great as the controls are, the developers told me that they’re still fine-tuning the game. This is actually pretty impressive considering just how great it felt to take control of my craft as I zipped through tracks and in between opponents. If R8 can somehow make Pacer feel even better, a tip of the hat will definitely be in order.

Tracks consist of bumps and hills, jumps over deadly gaps, and sharp turns. And you have to do this all while trying to reach the finish line before your opponents. The trick to obtaining that coveted first place spot at the end of the race is to know your limits. You’ll want to go fast — as fast as you can, in most instances — but you’ll also need to know when to ease up on the accelerator and when to tap on the brakes in order to gain more control over your craft.

Races aren’t just straightforward, no-nonsense affairs, though. Scattered throughout the stages are weapon pick-ups that allow you to shoot your rivals with everything from simple bullets to homing rockets. This adds a fun combat layer to the races that ups the game’s competitive level. Watch out, though, because you’re just as vulnerable to attacks as everyone else. No one is safe!

The Race Is On

Thanks to the solid AI, playing solo can be a lot of fun. That said, racing games are most enjoyable when played against others, and Pacer has you covered with a few options in the multiplayer department. You’ve got your standard competitive races and leaderboard options, but R8 is also implementing a battle royale mode, so you’ll want to up your game if you don’t want to get eliminated.

Aside from the multiple modes, Pacer will also encourage players to sink plenty of time into the various customization options available. You can outfit the various craft with different logos, designs, and finishes to create a vehicle that’s unique to your style.

From what I saw and played of Pacer, the game looks like it’s definitely on the right track. It was fun jumping in and experiencing the thrill of this type of racer for the first time since Wipeout HD. If you’re a fan of zero-gravity racers, you’ll want to keep a lookout for Pacer when the game drops on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC later this year.

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