STAFF REVIEW of Make Way (Xbox One)

Friday, February 9, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

Make Way Box art Way Way, coming through! That’s probably something I thought more than a few times as I raced to the finish in Make Way. A top down racer that feels like a mix of classic MicroMachines and TrackMania, Make Way is a cute and chaotic racer where 4 players, human or bots, race to the end on a course designed by the players at each leg. Developed by Ice BEAM and published by Secret Mode, Make Way is a simple idea where fun is the most important aspect, making for a fantastic party game when guests are over and always feeling like I wanted to go for just one more race.

While there’s no traditional Career mode, that doesn’t mean you don’t make progress. You begin with just one mode unlocked: Race. This is the simplest mode where you just need to reach the end at each leg of the race. What makes Make Way unique is that there’s no pre-designed levels, instead offering all players a tile to place down, creating a leg of a race. You race that segment, then add more tiles and the track becomes longer each time until there’s a points winner.

As you play you earn XP and level up, unlocking two more modes along the way. At certain levels you’ll then unlock Classic and Chaos mode. Classic is also your standard racing, but now adds weapons to the mix, Mario Kart style where you have to drive over one of the blocks to get the power-up. These range from different types of fun weapons meant to stop your opponents as you make it to the next checkpoint. This mode also adds some blockades and ramps, making the actual racing a bit trickier.

Then there’s Chaos mode, perfectly named. This is like Classic Mode, but more weapons and obstacles, also without any of the walls on the edges of the tracks, meaning you’re going to fall off and be knocked out until the next leg of the race quite often. Chaos mode was quite challenging and I had to purposely drive much slower to avoid driving off the track and not gaining any points. There’s also a Custom mode you can unlock where you can set all the rules exactly how you want.

I wasn’t sure what to make of the scoring system at first, but once I understood it I actually quite enjoyed it. A race is comprised of multiple rounds until one player reaches the maximum points. At the start of a race each player chooses a track tile to place, then you race on that layout. Once that segment is raced and completed, you add another four tiles to the track, lengthening it and racing from the beginning once more. You keep repeating this until someone wins by reaching the maximum of 3000 points, which are given out for segment wins. If you manage to get knocked out or fall off the track you won’t score any points for that segment, but will reappear at the next section. Points are given for each segment you survive, with higher places gaining more points.

The building segments in between rounds takes a really simple idea and makes it into a fun gameplay mechanic. Tiles are laid out randomly and you choose which you like and want to race on, but be quick, as it’s first come first serve. Then it’s a race to place it where you want on the track, so if I place my tile down before you, that’s how the race layout is going to be. Races may only be a few segments if you’re winning each portion getting the maximum points, but if it’s competitive, it may be a dozen segments long.

Not only can you place track pieces, you’ll eventually get to unlock obstacles too, making races more chaotic. Bumpers, ramps, boosts and more can be placed, and while you’ll only have a handful of tile options at the beginning, you unlock more as you level up. Eventually you’ll have really cool pieces like loops, seesaws, twirling ramps and more. Every race is going to be different because the tiles offered are randomized, and players will race to get different pieces and place them in different orders each time.

This takes designing your own tracks to a new levels, because you then race it directly after being placed, and knowing an opponent hates the tiles with no barriers or a gap may be a benefit to you if you’re able to remember the layout and avoid the obstacle. While I may have fallen off the track the first few times, I certainly started to remember afterwards, strategizing how to go about the race. With endless configurations, you more rely on skill and reflexes rather than memorizing a track layout. Thankfully each vehicle handles exactly the same, so it's simply an aesthetic preference as well.

My main issue is with the camera. Given that it’s a top down racer, the camera essentially is locked to the player who’s furthest ahead in first place, meaning if you fall too far behind, you’ll be knocked out for that leg of the race. Even though the camera is locked to you in first place, it’s not zoomed out far enough to see what’s coming, especially if you’re racing at full speed, so you have to hopefully memorize the track layout from the tile placement or be somewhat cautious since you can’t see very far what’s ahead of you until it’s too late.

The weapons can help you knock or stall your opponents, allowing you for a segment win. While there’s not that many different weapon variations, they are light hearted, like a mallet on the top of your car to smash anyone in front of you, or a goo launcher to slow them down. You’ll gain XP for doing so as well, so always a good idea to try and do so regardless.

Completing races will earn you XP in a variety of ways, unlocking new vehicles, track tiles and obstacles. The more you play the more you’ll unlock, so there’s always something new to play with it seems. I do wish there was a way you could see more than just the next unlock, but once you start getting some of the more unique tiles, races become quite fun with a few loops and such thrown in.

Play up to four players online or locally, and if you’re by yourself, you can race three other bots no problem. Even able to choose their difficulty when playing solo I was still having a great time, though I could see playing locally with some friends and a few adult beverages being even more of a blast. While online multiplayer is supported, I was unable to find a single match every time I tried, which was a bit of a dissapointment.

I'll admit, I expected Make Way to simply be another MicroMachines knockoff that I’d forget after a day of playing. Instead, I’m leaving it installed just in case I have someone over, as it’s simple enough to pick up and play and would absolutely be a blast with some friends. When not only the gameplay is fun, but creating the tracks as well, races never became stale due to being completely unique every single time, and the constant slow drop of tile unlocks kept me wanting to play one more race.

**Make Way was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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