Giant Bomb Review58 Comments
Green Day: Rock Band Review4
by Ryan Davis on
Green Day: Rock Band makes good on the promises implicit in the title, but it requires an appreciation of both Green Day and Rock Band to really enjoy.
Harmonix set the gold standard for band-specific music games last year with The Beatles: Rock Band, a lovingly rendered tribute to arguably the most influential pop music act of the 20th century, a game with the capacity to introduce the band's older fan base to the world of rhythm games while simultaneously familiarizing the younger game-playing crowd with a band they might only be superficially aware of. At the end of my review of that game, I posited that there might not be another band out there "important" enough to warrant such treatment, and Green Day: Rock Band kind of proves that point. I'm a fan of Green Day, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Green Day: Rock Band, but there's nothing about this package that transcends its parts, despite the game's structural similarities to The Beatles: Rock Band. This is a game for Green Day fans that have been waiting to play some of the pop-punk stalwarts' music in a Rock Band game, and as competently built as it is, it has little value for those who don't fall within that specific Venn Diagram overlap. As fan service it's pretty terrific, but it's no cultural event, and there's no relevance beyond that face value.
That said, I think Green Day, as a band, pretty well justifies the Rock Band treatment. Starting with Dookie and ending with 21st Century Breakdown, there's a distinct through-line for the band's musical progression, which goes from snotty pop punk about boredom and masturbation to a ballsy, full-production punk rock opera, with the music's catchiness being the most obvious consistency. The game charts this progression over a series of three different venues, each marking a key stage in the band's development. The warehouse venue represents Green Day's early days, relatively speaking, while the Milton Keynes venue--where Green Day shot its Bullet in a Bible concert DVD--represents the band's American Idiot-era resurgence, and the Fox Theater serves as showcase for the band's 21st Century Breakdown material. Like the band's music, the stages become more and more ostentatious and theatrical as you progress, though a mere three stages for 16 years of music feels a little thin. Licensing issues be damned, but I feel like the absence of a mud-caked Woodstock 94 venue neglects one of Green Day's most well-known and career-defining live performances.
While I found the number of venues lacking, the band itself tends to keep things interesting, with different era-appropriate looks and some really spot-on motion-capture that ably conveys Green Day's on-stage personality. More importantly, the 47 songs included with the game feature every Green Day song I'd want to play in a Rock Band game, and then some. With this you get Dookie in its entirety, the hits from Insomniac, Nimrod, and Warning, everything from American Idiot, and the handful of tracks from 21st Century Breakdown that haven't already been released as general Rock Band DLC. I might bellyache over the fact that these previously released songs aren't bundled here if I found that material as compelling as the band's earlier stuff. Unlike The Beatles: Rock Band, the songs here are fully exportable for play in Rock Band 2 (and, when it comes out, Rock Band 3,) though you'll have to pay a $10 export fee, which is double what past Rock Band games have charged for this convenience. Still, $70 for 47 songs is cheaper than what you'd pay for all those tracks as piecemeal DLC at the current going rates... assuming you'd actually want every song included.
If you're the type of Green Day fan that would want all those songs, though, you'll probably appreciate all of the game's bonus material. There are tons of publicity and candid photos of the band for you to unlock and peruse, as well as a sampling of great MTV-sourced interview and performance footage of the band that you'll unlock by completing specific challenges which reveal themselves as you play through the career. As someone who grew up in the mid-1990s with Green Day, I found a lot of this archival footage particularly compelling in a time-capsule sort of way.
If you're a Rock Band fan first and Green Day second, you'll find that the level of challenge here falls somewhere in between what Rock Band 2 and The Beatles: Rock Band offered. Green Day's music errs towards pretty speedy, straight-ahead stuff, but Billie Joe Armstrong tends to sing in a range that I found far more approachable than most music games, the three-part harmonies are simpler, and thus, easier than what was found in The Beatles: Rock Band, and bassist Mike Dirnt has a knack for walking bass lines that translate into fun, interesting gameplay.
Aside from a few more venues, there's not much more that I'd want from such a package that isn't present here. And yet, for all the points that I've made here for and against Green Day: Rock Band, it's all pretty ancillary to the fundamental truth that, if you don't like Green Day, and you don't want to play their music in a Rock Band game, you're not going to get a whole lot out of Green Day: Rock Band.