That’s right: there’s now an officially-sanctioned Summernats burnout game. Developed for mobile, Burnout Masters also happens to be a great way to kill time when you’re on the train, on the toilet, or just plain procrastinating.
What do you need for Burnout Masters?
A phone that’s a little more advanced than the burner your local pharmaceutical distribution specialist keeps in their pocket. In other words: any ol’ Apple or Android smartphone will do, provided you have at least 75MB of memory for Android or 140MB for Apple.
You’ll need to make sure your operating system is at least iOS 9.0 or above if you’re on an Apple device, or Android 4.0 and above if you’re not part of the iPhone/iPad brigade.
How much does Burnout Masters cost?
Nothing! It’s free to play, but naturally Burnout Masters gives you the option of spending real-world dosh to acquire in-game credits in bulk quantity. And, like most ‘freemium’ games, your ability to progress through the game is significantly slowed down if you choose to grind through the game without putting any money in.
Yep, you can play around with Cleetus McFarland's Camaro if you spend a little bit of coin.
In-game ads give the developers the ability to make some revenue off wallet-shy gamers, and said gamers can also exploit that by choosing to watch ads in exchange for $500 of in-game money a pop. At the very least, we’d suggest spending the $2.99 fee to unlock the ad-free version of the game. It supports the developers, and eliminates the concentration-breaking and unskippable video ads.
What's it like to play Burnout Masters?
Make no mistake, this is a pretty simple game with a pretty simple objective: destroy tyres, make smoke, and try not to blow your engine.
And the controls are simple – accelerate, brake and steer via the usual arrangement of on-screen buttons, however to make it a lot easier to stall the trans up or do a static burnout there’s a second brake pedal on the left side of the screen. A handbrake button sits next to the accelerator and brake on the right. The steering controls can either be digital – full left or full right at the tap of a button – or an analogue slider, but we recommend just sticking with the digital setup – it makes transitioning from left- to right-handed donuts a hell of a lot easier.
It’s pretty easy to get going, but scoring high enough to get a decent prize payout can take some practice and finesse. We chose the VN Commodore as our starter car (which, naturally, isn’t officially licensed or branded as such, but is clearly recognisable to any self-respecting burnout enthusiast) and its 3.8 litres of Buick V6 ferocity is definitely an impediment to success.
You get 60 seconds to do your thing, and the quantity of smoke, number of donuts, a solid launch, proximity to the wall, popped tyres and the amount of the burnout pad you use all contribute to your score.
Whatever you do, try not to get stuck nose-first against a barrier. Engaging reverse is a shameful act in burnout culture, and besides earning you the righteous anger of the crowd it’ll also cleave 5000 points off your final score every time you do it.
You’ll quickly discover that power is the shortcut to a successful session, as power = popped tyres and the points you gain from exploding your rear bags delivers a massive 5000-point boost to your scorecard. Speed helps too, but unless you’ve got bulk kilowatts at your disposal then shifting up a gear does nothing but make you bog down into a sad and smokeless spin.
Which takes us handily to the other area of Burnout Masters that delivers plenty of time-wasting joy: car customisation. The VN’s depressing 3.8 can be turfed for any other motor available in-game, which, considering the Holden Gemini and KE50 Toyota Corolla are also playable cars, means you can downgrade to a poxy 1.3 litre 8-valve four-pot or 75hp 1.6 if you really, really want. Ever wondered how the mighty AU Falcon would go with an antique 202 red motor under the bonnet? This game will let you discover the answer… for some reason.
Bodykits, paint colours and wheel designs/sizing can all be fiddled with too, and removing the bonnet costs you nothing - just like real life. The novelty of seeing the 4.0 Intech of your AU vibrating itself to death as you complete your 17th rotation is one that never gets old.
Are there any downsides to Burnout Masters?
No game is perfect, and Burnout Masters is not without shortcomings. The graphics are simple and fairly cartoonish, which can be endearing in a way, but if you’ve sampled the rival Torque Burnout you’ll probably reckon that Burnout Masters doesn’t really try hard enough in this area.
The official Summernats burnout sim also doesn’t have a super-sophisticated handling model (not that anyone would ever really mark down a burnout game for inaccurate physics), but again, there are other titles that do it better, and the ‘hitbox’ around certain environmental objects often extends further than the 3D model itself, meaning you’ll slam into thin air if you try and run too close to the pad boundary.
You also can’t do two-tone paint or custom graphics and thus replicate the pensioner-spec burgundy-over-silver scheme of a VN Calais, nor the yellow body and silver bumpers of the iconic VL Commodore BT1. Like we said, the graphics in Burnout Masters are pretty simple. The number of burnout arenas is also quite slim at this point, though several greyed-out events (including Red Centre Nats and Rockynats) suggest developers Roadburn Games will be expanding that in the near future.
Burnout Masters doesn’t really do anything terribly different to other burnout games, but the Summernats connection is one that many Australian petrolheads will probably appreciate (you can even buy tickets to Summernats 2021 from the app).
It’s not terribly sophisticated, but sophistication is not something that’s really necessary to have fun when you’re talking about burnouts - whether real or virtual. What is for certain though, is that Burnout Masters is a great time-waster that deserves to be kept on your phone for those occasions when you really want to vaporise some tyres, but you can’t be arsed getting off the couch.