This will likely be one of the shortest reviews you’ll read here at PSU, and for good reason. Green Day: Rock Band is exactly what it sounds like – a Green Day version of Rock Band. If you like the band and music games, you’ll probably enjoy this title. If you don’t like either, guess what? You probably won’t like this game. It’s not that Green Day: Rock Band is a bad game or a great game; it’s just another music game. Let’s put it this way, when reviewing the game we felt like we were judging a vanilla ice cream contest. It’s easy to like vanilla ice cream, but after sampling one hundred scoops, you start to want something else in that classic taste – maybe some sprinkles or caramel. Green Day: Rock Band is just another scoop of vanilla, and we so want to try Chunky Monkey. Still, ice cream is pretty much always delicious.
Much like its spiritual predecessor The Beatles: Rock Band, GDRB follows the band through its career. However, unlike The Beatles version, you can jump through the three available venues at will, meaning you lose a great deal of that band progression The Beatles: Rock Band established so well. This is a traditional music rhythm game, and as such, you probably know the basic mechanics. What GDRB attempts to do is capture the American (punk?) rock band’s essence, and plaster it on your HD TV. It does this by following the band through three venues: The Warehouse, Milton Keynes, and The Fox Theater, Oakland.
The Warehouse is a fictional venue that is meant to represent the band’s early performances. For fans of the band’s Dookie album, this is where you’ll spend most of your time. This is where we see a younger, eyeliner-free Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool bopping through songs like “Longview,” “When I Come Around,” and “She.”
The second venue is Milton Keynes, which was made famous from the band’s video for “bullet in a Bible.” You’ll play through songs from American Idiot, Insomnia, Nimrod, and Warning. Finally, there is The Fox Theater, Oakland, which represents a show the band played in support of 21st Century Breakdown. These two venues help to capture America’s love of Green Day, with the later featuring an enormous crowd of devout fans, singing along to “Restless Heart Syndrome,” and “American Eulogy.”
Harmonix captures the mood of Green Day beyond the venues and songs. You’ll find tons of collectibles, challenges, and even the menus feel like Green Day. But instead of dreamscapes or catch cut scenes to help draw players into the Green Day world (like The Beatles: Rock Band did), we get simple and small introductions to new set lists and venues.
One word about the game’s difficulty compared to other music games. We found the music parts, minus drums, to actually be harder to play on medium setting than it is to play the music in real life – you know, on actual instruments. The one advantage the game has is that since Green Day uses so many power chords, we feel like we are playing instruments instead of some of the organ or string parts the guitar played in The Beatles: Rock Band.
Push aside any critique of the music or the rhythm game genre itself, and Green Day: Rock Band serves its purpose. For what it’s worth, we are sort of fans of both the band and the genre, though ultimately we feel both are starting to get a little stale, resulting in a slightly underwhelming experience. Overall, it feels like the game just scratches the surface of what Green Day is all about, and there are a number of reasons why we felt distracted at times.
For one, the game censors certain swear words – mainly all of them. They are just words, but when Billie Joe is singing about being lazy and apathetic, we want to hear all the explicit language used to describe the act of being lazy. It takes away from the Green Day experience, love them or hate them.
The game keeps the harmonies established in The Beatles: Rock Band, although not all songs feature multiple vocals. It’s great Harmonix kept harmonies, and we can’t wait to see it used in Rock Band 3. Vocal wise, Green Day isn’t a tough stretch for an average singer, so you can actually feel good about your vocals. As mentioned earlier, the overall difficulty or feel in the gameplay is right where you’d expect a three-piece punk-rock band would be – a few chord changes, some decent bass lines, and killer drum fills.
There’s sort of a slap in the face here. Not all the content in the career mode is available on the disc, as you’ll have to download six tracks from 21st Century Breakdown. The disc comes equipped with 47 tracks that can all be exported for a $10 USD price tag. One of the best parts is that you get all of Dookie, which we found to be the highlight of the entire game.
Green Day: Rock Band is a thin attempt at capturing an American punk-rock band that is bordering between over-rated and incredibly timely. Still, this isn’t a critique of the actual band; rather, the game does so little to make an everyday gamer want to pick this up. Sure, huge Green Day fans probably pre-ordered it, but we find little reason behind releasing this game, especially because it adds virtually nothing to the genre. This would have been OK as a big DLC pack, but a whole disc just doesn’t make sense. Had we seen some major advancement to the music game genre, we would have jumped at this game. But, since it’s just another music game based on a band, we can’t find much to jump up and down about.