Pacer has had an interesting life leading up to our discovery of the title at PLAY expo in Manchester recently. If it looks familiar that's because it's already been released in Early Access under another name back in 2017. Formula Fusion, as it was known then, was the first iteration of the game which is being relaunched as Pacer on the 1st of June for PC and consoles. This update comes with a swanky new engine, and a stack of new game modes. We had a look at the latest version at PLAY expo to see how the game was coming along.
The Wipeout influence is noticeable from the outset, and that's no surprise, as the team at developer R8 Games includes a number of former Psygnosis employees who worked on those groundbreaking titles. As you might expect then, Pacer is a slick and speedy futuristic racer with weapons, gravity-defying courses, and a heart-pumping soundtrack. It's the spiritual successor to the game that defined the PlayStation era of gaming.
With the rebrand and relaunch comes a whole new look. It was a very pretty game to start with, but the Unreal Engine 4 restyle makes it look even more stunning, and during the weekend I never saw any frame skipping or slowdown, just a smooth and vibrant cornucopia of eye candy.
The game's physics are just like you'll remember from back in the day. There's a floaty feel to them but not so much so that you can't move anywhere. This is down to the team's clever manipulation of the engine to give a less realistic approach. It's a sci-fi racer that sees you travelling at hundreds of miles per hour, so the realistic physics that come out of the box with Unreal Engine weren't going to cut it. Instead, R8 made its own physics engine to replace it. Seemingly a lot of hard work, but it was worth it as the feel of the game is just as authentic as you would hope, with a sense of speed you just don't get with other games.
One of the big changes that is incoming is the new storm mode. With a massive number of other racers and regular eliminations on a track that keeps reducing in size, this is essentially a battle royale mode. If Tetris can do it with Tetris 99, then anybody can. It's also available as a single player mode too, so there's no need to interact with other humans if you don't want to.
Pacer will be with us on the 1st of June, so there's not that long to wait if you want to experience it, but R8 will also be at a number of other events before release so check out their website if you can't wait that long. With 4K 60fps visuals, CoLD SToRAGE on the soundtrack again, and a whole new way to race, it's worth waiting for.