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Green Day: Rock Band Hands-On
by Ryan Davis on
The kings of pop punk are getting their own Rock Band game, and Harmonix swings through the Giant Bomb offices to give us a look.
When asked to describe a sequel, or even a game inspired by other games, I have a really despicable habit of reductively declaring "it sure is [insert franchise name], alright!" Now, I'm prefacing my hands-on impressions of Green Day: Rock Band with this acknowledgement because, well, Green Day: Rock Band sure is Rock Band, alright. If you've seen the track list for the game, then you already have the bulk of the information you'll need to know whether or not this is a game for you. But I want to be clear here that this is not a bad thing. Regardless of whether you think the band warrants its own Rock Band game, Green Day has a deep catalog of seriously catchy-ass pop-punk songs that work really well for this format.
The track list for Green Day: Rock Band is almost exactly the track list I would've come up with for a Green Day Greatest Hits compilation. All of Dookie, all of American Idiot, most of 21st Century Breakdown, and the singles from Insomniac, Nimrod, and Warning. Boom, done. I might've included some tracks from Kerplunk!, but it's not surprising to learn that no multitrack recordings for those songs exist. Aside from the 47 songs on the disc, the game will support the six songs from 21st Century Breakdown that have already been released as Rock Band DLC, though it's kind of a bummer that those DLC songs won't be included on the disc. Don't expect any other DLC for Green Day: Rock Band either, though Harmonix's Chris Foster expressed interest in bringing some of the Green Day side projects like Pinhead Gunpowder and The Network to Rock Band. You'll be able to export all the songs from Green Day: Rock Band for play in Rock Band Prime, though for a $10 premium.
Harmonix pretty much set the gold standard for how to approach single-band music games with The Beatles: Rock Band, so it's unsurprising that Green Day: Rock Band is looking like a more modest version of that, including the three-part vocal harmonies and the broad autobiographical structure. The game will feature three venues and three different versions of the band, each representing a different era for Green Day. The Warehouse, which is where you'll play Dookie, is an amalgam of the sorts of house parties and squatter spaces the band played in early on--look closely, and you'll see the Bookmobile that Green Day used to tour in. Milton Keynes was the site of Bullet in a Bible, Green Day's 2004 concert DVD, and will serve as the venue for songs from Insomniac, Nimrod, Warning, and American Idiot. Finally there's Fox Theater in Oakland, which is where you'll play songs from 21st Century Breakdown.
All three seem suitable venues, though to be honest, what jumped out at me was what wasn't there. Green Day's performance at Woodstock '94 always struck me as one of their most well-remembered. I asked about the omission of 924 Gilman Street, the famous Berkeley, California venue where Green Day got its start, and the rationale seemed reasonable: by the time Green Day had released Dookie, the band had already been exiled from Gilman, which has a staunch policy of barring major-label acts from playing, so such an inclusion would've seemed disrespectful.
What's most exciting about Green Day: Rock Band for me is that maybe I'll finally learn some of their lyrics, despite the fact that I've been singing along with them in my car for a good 15 years now. I'm also intrigued by the bonus materials, which is where Harmonix's MTV connection really flourishes, giving them access to lots of footage and photos from old interviews and concerts. As a teenager growing up in the Bay Area in the mid-90s--where everyone and their brother, cousin, stepmom, etc. had an "I knew them when" story about Green Day--I have always been particularly susceptible to Green Day's smart-ass charms, so expect to find me playing Green Day: Rock Band on its June 8th release date... all by myself.