Pacer

Game review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
Pacer Game Poster Image
Fast-paced futuristic racer is an homage to classic game.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Doing well in this game requires practice and perseverance.

Positive Role Models

The game requires skill that only comes from practice and being willing to keep going even when you lose. But the winners and losers of a race aren't shown being good or bad sports.

Ease of Play

The controls will be familiar to fans of similar racing games. The game does have training levels, but they don't explain the basic mechanics of operating your craft, only how you can modify its weapon systems and performance enhancements before a race.

Violence

Players use a variety of weapons -- including missiles, mines, guns, and explosives -- to damage and destroy the competition. But while ships are shown exploding, the driver isn't shown injured, so there's no blood or gore.

Sex
Language

Online communication is unmonitored, which could expose players to inappropriate content.

Consumerism

While the tracks have numerous ads, just like in real-life racing, all of the companies and products being advertised are made up.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pacer is a downloadable futuristic combative racing game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. While players can use a variety of weapons to damage, or even destroy the competition -- including missiles, guns, and explosives -- the destruction is limited to exploding ships. No drivers are shown being hurt or killed at any point in the game. Similarly, while the tracks are covered in advertisements, just like they are in real racing events, all of the companies and products being advertised are fictional. Communication between online players isn't monitored, which could expose players to inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

As with so many racing games, PACER doesn't have a story mode. Instead, it has a career mode, in which you run a series of races, and finishing one unlocks the next one on the list. The races are also varied, with your objective not just being to get across the finish line before anyone else, but to fulfill certain tasks on each track. Along with the career, the game has online races for people who'd rather their competition not be a computer, as well as options to play the game's eight different race types on their own, and with some parameters available for modification.

Is it any good?

While this is a rather blatant rip-off of another racing game series, it's so spot-on that it ends up being as fun as the games that inspired it. In Pacer, you pilot a jet-powered hovercraft around twisty tracks that would make a rollercoaster designer jealous. You also, as you go, pick-up ammo for weapons you use to damage or destroy the competition, as well as speed boosts that could mean the difference between finishing first and, well, not. In other words, this is basically a replica of the futuristic and combative racing game series WipEout.

But what this lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in depth. Not only are there fourteen tracks and eight distinctive vehicles, there are eleven different kinds of weapons, and all can be modified. You also get to have two at a time, though you still need to pick up ammo off the track as you're speeding around those tight corners. All of which puts this on par with the better WipEout games. Which isn't to say it's perfect; nothing is. For starters, it only has two viewpoints, and neither are the always important cockpit view. Some racing fans might also lament that using airbrakes to take turns isn't a skill you need to master, but it's more of a suggestion. But since that other racing franchise isn't not coming back anytime soon, Pacer is a very fun substitute.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Pacer affected by the fact that you can use weapons to destroy the competition, but you never see the driver being killed? Does this make the violence seem less...violent? Do you think seeing the driver die would make it seem more real, and change how you feel about it?

  • In Pacer, you crash a lot because you drive at unsafe speeds and in unsafe ways, so what does the game teach you about not driving so quickly or crazy in real life?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love racing

Themes & Topics

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