Review: Green Day: Rock Band

GreenDayRockBand.jpg

Guitar Hero is widely considered the most whored-out franchise going right now, and I would agree with that. But Rock Band sure seems intent on catching up. Two base games have already been released, a third is on the way, the series expanded to the PSP with Unplugged, there was a tribute release to The Beatles and a ridiculous LEGO tie-in, and now an iteration dedicated to Green Day, of all bands, has strummed off to retailers. Such mass franchise proliferation doesn’t bother me too much – if a game is fun to play, I don’t mind sequel after sequel, no matter how derivative. But at a point it becomes overkill…and for Rock Band that point is now!

Is it just me, or does Green Day seem like a strange choice for a dedicated Rock Band? I pose that question because Green Day seems like it’ll only play to a very specific crowd rather than the broader casual audience the genre normally reaches and the Rock Band community at large.

I have no vested interest either way – I like some Green Day songs, but don’t follow their music in any way — but regardless of that fact, Green Day doesn’t strike me as this worldly recognized band deserving of a dedicated video game. I know the band has had a very successful career, but is Green Day really as legendary as The Beatles, Metallica, Aerosmith or Van Halen? Enough to warrant the same cover treatment as the aforementioned bands received in previous music games? I think not – but of course I’m not a rock aficionado, so maybe I am completely off base on this one.

Putting that argument aside, Green Day: Rock Band is, for better or worse, exactly what the title says it is: Rock Band with Green Day music. Period. End of Story.

For some, that will be enough, but to me it comes across as another rushed money grab. Proof of that becomes readily apparent when you compare Green Day: Rock Band to the recent Beatles tribute. The two are modeled in the same format, only the Green Day release lacks the same level of enthusiasm for celebrating the band it’s dedicated to.

Fans and non-fans alike should enjoy the content on the disc, because Green Day’s music, whether you would listen to it on your own time or not, makes for high-energy Rock Band gameplay. And that counts for a lot.

The game is also notable for having the three-part vocal harmonies introduced in The Beatles, and two complete albums on the disc – Dookie and American Idiot – and if you’ve already downloaded previously released Green Day track packs, you can import them into the game to form the complete 21st Century Breakdown album. Unlike The Beatles, you can also export the entire track list to play in Rock Band and Rock Band 2 (and Rock Band 3 coming up), though you’ll have to pay a $10 fee to do so if you didn’t get the free export token by pre-ordering.

These three albums take center stage in the game’s career mode, but even Green Day fans are likely to be disappointed with how much of the band’s history the game glosses over. Beyond those full albums, there are only seven tracks from the band’s three middle albums — Warning, Nimrod and Insomniac – and the band’s two earlier albums – Kerplunk and 39/Smooth – aren’t represented at all. I understand there were issues preventing Harmonix from using the master recordings for those albums, but still, it’s a travesty to develop a band tribute game and barely cover half of that band’s history.

Altogether, Green Day: Rock Band features 47 songs, which is a couple more than The Beatles, but still extremely skimpy in comparison to same-priced games like Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero 5. The included tracks are also the radio-edited cuts, and while the edits were blended in as much as possible, the bleep-outs are noticeable and can throw off your rhythm.

Other than that, there aren’t any new play modes or features, and even though there are fan-service collectibles to unlock (photos, live performances, interviews and other videos), the career mode feels completely half-baked, with three bland stage settings, three band outfits, and repetitive performance animations causing the presentation to fall flat on its face.

Put bluntly, Green Day: Rock Band is an incredibly lazy and uninspired production. Obviously, if you’re a Green Day fan you’re buying this game no matter what I tell you, but in my opinion it is maybe a curious rental at best, a forgettable cash-in attempt at worst. I say don’t bother.

SkipIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Green Day’s music is a lot of fun to play, whether you are a fan or not
+ Same great Rock Band gameplay you know and love

Cons:
– Only 47 tracks
– Very little representation from five of the band’s albums
– Bland, repetitive presentation
– Half-assed career mode
– Radio edits can be distracting
– Effort to tribute Green Day seems lazy

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on PS3, also available on Wii and Xbox 360
Publisher: MTV Games
Developer: Harmonix
Release Date: 6/8/2010
Genre: Music/Rhythm
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-6
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

[nggallery id=1324]

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!