Do we really need a full-priced iteration of Rock Band devoted entirely to Green Day? If your answer is a resounding, “Hellz Yeah!” then fork over your $60 and practice your best Billie Joe Armstrong sneer. For everyone else, consider if the chance to play through the pop-punk trio’s catalogue is worth the price of admission.
Coming so soon after Harmonix’s loving tribute to The Beatles, Rock Band: Green Day is something of a let down, and not just because the band’s music is less varied and far less iconic. Green Day’s presentation is spartan, with just three stages in the career mode (approximating the group’s early Dookie days on through to the recent 21st Century Breakdown). While the digital versions of Armstrong, bassist Mike Durnt and drummer Tre Cool are rendered with all their swagger and attitude intact, the visuals feel stripped down. There are plenty of unlockables and lots of goodies for fans, but if The Beatles: Rock Band set the gold standard, this package is a slightly less valuable metal. Tin, maybe.
It’s hard to criticize the gameplay. It’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Rock Band juggernaut, this time with a difficultly that rests somewhere between the relatively easy Beatles’ set and some of the tougher challenges of Rock Band 2. There’s so much piano in the later Green Day songs that I wished the keyboard controller (announced as part of the upcoming Rock Band 3) was here already. So really, it comes down to the music: If you just love Green Day, then plug in the plastic guitar and slap the digital drums one more time.
All of Dookie is here, along with the complete American Idiot, wide swaths of 21st Century Breakdown and a good sampling from Nimrod, Warning, and Insomniac; 47 tracks in all, a pretty generous selection. Whether you think Green Day are punks, posers, or corporate sell-outs disguised as angry young men, there’s no denying that their music is tightly crafted and catchy, and the trio’s progression from songs about weed and masturbation to epic punk-pop opera is a pretty interesting journey.
Armstrong’s vocals lie in that nice and easy middle register and the harmonies are generally simple and fun to sing. Durnt’s bass lines walk a surprising amount, and Tre Cool’s drumming is direct and powerful. It’s a shame, then, the ringers (keyboard, second guitar) that have filled out Green Day’s sound don’t get a little more credit.
Several tracks from 21st Century Breakdown have already been released as DLC for Rock Band 2, and unfortunately aren’t included here, though all the tunes from Rock Band: Green Day are exportable to Rock Band 2 and the upcoming third version.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call Rock Band: Green Day a ripoff, because the set list is deep and certainly catches the spirit and energy of the band. But the total lack of innovation and the minimalistic presentation—at least compared to the visual and musical feast of The Beatles: Rock Band—makes this feel like a generous helping of DLC rather than a stand-alone game.
What are your thoughts on rhythm games dedicated to individual bands? Where do you stand in classifying Green Day? Let us know on Twitter @Gamers_Hell