Review: Green Day: Rock Band

The Beatles: Rock Band was an admirable tribute to one of history’s greatest musical forces. Stepping into the shoes of the venerable Fab Four proved to be an entertaining and equally respectable trip. Just as it attracted established Beatlemaniacs, it created new ones through bystanders and gamers searching for a new music game to rock out to. Harmonix sensed they were onto something here, and thus allowed another band to take center stage for another band-centric adventure. Not long after, Green Day: Rock Band was announced. While not as epic in scope, it’s an enjoyable trip from the early, angst-ridden days of the band’s career all the way through their politically charged creations American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. It brings nothing relatively groundbreaking to the series (and builds little on The Beatles: Rock Band’s feature set) but those needing their Rock Band fix should find plenty to like here.

As far as the actual Rock Band interface goes, everything remains intact. Overdrive plays a major part of each song, there are killer drum solos, and you can gold star tracks just like you can in any regular game of Rock Band. The only major changes here are to the menus, graphics, and of course the setlists themselves. This is Green Day’s show, so all elements have been skinned accordingly. However, rather than drawing from classic albums such as Dookie, most of the art found in-game is pulled directly from their latest effort, 21st Century Breakdown. You’ll find this more modern motif to be prevalent throughout grunge-riddled track select screens even down to the note paths and vocal tubes themselves. It’s an attractive look to be sure and fits Green Day’s individual style, much like the retro stylings of The Beatles: Rock Band. However, fans who find themselves looking more to the past when it comes to Green Day’s musical offerings might feel a bit alienated now. It’s all about the band’s current vibe, so be forewarned, gamers looking for a stroll down memory lane.

Each setlist is peppered with songs from the albums released during the band’s brief stints at each of the three venues included. Six of the band’s albums (not including efforts prior to Dookie) are featured, with tracks spanning the trio’s career and profound sonographic evolution. The venues are dramatically different from one time period to the next, from smaller clubs to elaborate stage shows of the Milton Keynes and the Fox Theater representing the smash hit album-gone-Broadway hit American Idiot and the equally powerful 21st Century Breakdown. As visual aids beyond the band’s wardrobe it’s a powerful thing to see just how much these three guys went through on their journey to the top.

Before Green Day: Rock Band, I was only partially aware of how drastically the outfit’s musical direction had changed since their beginnings as a fledgling punk-pop group. One of the reasons I found myself really getting into the game was the fact that seeing these tracks laid out for me along with a chronologically-appropriate venue and the outfits the band sported at the time (even Billie Joe’s outlandish hair) helped to distinguish their “musical puberty,” if you will. It’s quite the interesting metamorphosis and one that many bands fail to live through.

As a casual Green Day fan prior to completing all 47 songs included in the standard edition of the game (Green Day: Rock Band Plus includes the full 21st Century Breakdown album for a few dollars more), I found myself beginning to fall in love with the simple chord progression, memorable lyrics, and the quirky personality attached to each track. For proof, know that I had never heard a single track off of 21st Century Breakdown other than “21 Guns” and managed to grab more than a few gold stars in the vocal department on Expert before shelving the game for a while — Green Day’d out! This proves the songs add more than challenging riffs and achievements for zealous gamers. It’s fun, raucous, and packed with both feel-good anthems and melancholy mumblers that will get locked into your head.

True, Green Day: Rock Band is little more than a retread of the great Beatles package, but if you’re a fan of the three baby-faced rockers, there’s plenty to love here. Just don’t expect to be able to export these hits without paying the hefty fee of $10. And if you’re looking to play the latest hits such as “21 Guns,” you’ll need to shell out the cash to purchase as DLC tracks. I can’t help but feel as though this is a strained attempt at nickel and diming consumers looking to purchase a more complete Green Day experience, and it’s a shame to be forced to spend even more money after the chunk of change $60 is to some of us. Even with the Plus edition, this is a practice I would not like to see continued.

Still, this is a wholly engaging journey through the years with the Green Day guys and a chance to revisit some truly fantastic songs and get re-acquainted with a band that’s managed to stand the test of time. I can’t say much has changed since the previous band-centric outing, but there’s plenty of content and charm here to keep music game enthusiasts busy. If you’re a fan of Green Day at all you’ll enjoy powering through each familiar track. And even if you’re just a casual Rock Band fan, you’ll find something to enjoy here. Just don’t go looking for anything life-changing. Perhaps that’s being saved for Rock Band 3.

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