Reviewing Green Day: Rock Band almost seems silly. People kept asking me how the game was and all I could think to say was “It’s Green Day: Rock Band.” That is literally the best description and review of this title. If all of those words together appeal to you, this is your game. If any of those words make you yawn or grimace, then you can stop reading now.
I don’t need to explain how a plastic peripheral music game works, right? Songs occur, and you play them on fake instruments. Sometimes you sing if you’ve had a couple beers.
What is worth noting is that Green Day: Rock Band is more akin to The Beatles: Rock Band than it is to Rock Band 2. This is a game about the alt-punk trio’s career, a loosely chronological journey through their best known songs. It’s set in three venues over about 15 years, and lets you play as Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool. The presentation is very similar to the Beatles version, as is the career mode. You earn photos and videos of the band as rewards for doing well on the songs.
I happen to really like Green Day. I have fond memories of listening to Basket Case over and over with my best friend while we let out our prepubescent middleclass white boy angst. I’ve enjoyed Green Day’s entire career, and even like their newer rock opera albums. It’s safe to say I’m a big fan. As such, I’m a little bummed that there are only 47 tracks (44 really because some of them are combined). It’s great to have entire albums, but a lot of the band’s middle stuff gets skipped over. Nearly all of Green Day’s albums went platinum and I’d like a much larger representation from all of them. OK, well maybe not Warning.
Now, I would never say Green Day is a better band than the Beatles, but in the context of playable Rock Band tracks, they are better suited to the game. These songs are just more fun to play than many of the Beatles tunes. It’s pretty cool to get this visual and tactile documentary of the band’s progression, which makes you notice things like how the band really isn’t using Mike Dirnt’s bass skills effectively on recent albums, but some of Tre Cool’s drumming and the vocals from all three of them has vastly improved. All of the songs are just damn fun to play no matter what instrument you choose. The longer (more than nine-minute) tracks like Jesus of Suburbia and Homecoming switch styles so often that they feel like a medley. And some of the songs that bleed into each other are presented as double tracks to keep the music flowing going.
Vocal Harmonies is definitely a place where Green Day outshines the Beatles. American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown offer more than just chiming in on the chorus. They also seem easier, because the vocals are about something completely different. So it’s less about trying to sing at a slightly higher pitch and more about just having fun.
On a side note, it’s kind of a bummer that all the tracks are radio edited versions. I understand the reasoning behind it, but given how much these boys love to drop f-bombs, it makes the songs sound funny.
The amount of venues and character models also seems light. With only three stages, you tend to see the same characters a lot. For The Beatles game, Harmonix created dreamscapes to fill a gap in the band’s career, and it came out really awesome. It would have been nice if the developer had figured out some way to mix it up with Green Day. Music video shoots, more venues, or hell, dreamscapes for the heavily narrative songs off their two recent albums (like the opening cinematic of the game) would have been awesome, and it seems like a missed opportunity.
The songs on the disc are exportable (for an extra $10 fee), and honestly that’s where I see myself playing them most. They’re supposedly compatible with the upcoming Rock Band 3 as well, which will include vocal harmonies.
I’m going to reiterate what I said at the beginning. If you like Green Day and Rock Band, go get this. If you’re getting bored of playing fake instruments or you’re just not a fan of the group, then don’t expect to be won over. It’s not as polished or as lovingly handcrafted at the Beatles: Rock Band, but a lot of the songs are way more fun to play. Now, if only there were more of them.