GOONL!NE Review: Green Day: Rock Band

Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Also on: Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii
Release Date: Friday 11th June 2010
Age Rating: ESRB: E for Everyone
Reviewed by: David Pitchforth

I’ve been a fan of Green Day pretty much since their breakthrough album, Dookie, back in 1994. With tracks such as Basketcase, When I Come Around and Longview, the album went on to sell roughly 18.5 million copies worldwide, and provided the platform for the band to become one of the biggest rock bands of the past 15 years or so. It perhaps comes as no surprise then that Harmonix has chosen to follow up their standalone title The Beatles: Rock Band with a game based on the power chords of one of the biggest acts around.

Green Day: Rock Band decides to take a different approach to the career mode as opposed to The Beatles: Rock Band. Whereas The Beatles game treated it as a trip through the career of the band, GD:RB instead focuses on 3 specific albums from Green Day’s history – Dookie, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown – with a small selection of songs from other albums making up the rest of the 47 song tracklist. Dookie and American Idiot are represented in their entirety here, with 6 songs missing from 21st Century Breakdown, with those songs already available to download from the Rock Band Music Store.

The fact that Harmonix has decided to focus the vast majority of the setlist to 3 albums will surely divide fans of the band. While it’s my personal opinion that the 3 albums featured are indeed the 3 best albums they’ve made, opinions among fans will no doubt vary, and some will be left very disappointed to find that there are only 2 songs from Insomniac, 3 from Nimrod, and 2 from Warning. Compared to the huge setlists that are usually available in games of this type, often way above 60 songs on disc, it’s a shame that Harmonix couldn’t have included a few more songs from each albums, and some from the band’s earliest releases from before they hit the big time. If you’re creating a game dedicated to a specific band, I do feel it would represent the artists better if you had more music from each album, so fans can chart the rise and changes in direction that the band has taken over the years.

That being said, there is no doubting that Green Day has made some excellent music over the years, and it translates very well to the Rock Band engine. While they certainly aren’t a bigger act than The Beatles, I feel quite happy in saying that their heavier, chord driven music is more suited to a music game than the lads from Liverpool. There are some really excellent songs to play, whatever your instrument of choice, from the frantic songs like Basketcase, to the acoustic Good Riddance, and the epics like Jesus of Suburbia. Like many other Rock Band games, the tracks here are exportable for a fee so that they can be used in other Rock Band games, including the upcoming Rock Band 3, which is where I see most people still playing the songs in 6 months time. It’s just a shame that Harmonix has chosen to use the edited versions of the songs with the expletives removed. While it’s a sensible decision in order to make the game more accessible for younger gamers, Green Day are an adult band singing adult songs, and if the music can be included on the albums then it’s disappointing to see then edited here.

The decision to concentrate on 3 of the band’s albums has had a knock on effect in respect to the venues. Harmonix has decided to only include 3 venues in the game, each used to represent a different main album and a different era in the bands evolution. There is the Warehouse, a fictional location in which Dookie is set, which is meant to represent all of the local and small venues Green Day would play in while trying to hit the big time. The National Bowl in Milton Keyes is the setting for American Idiot, a stadium the band played in back in 2005, and was the setting for the recording of the Bullet in a Bible CD/DVD. 21st Century Breakdown is located in the Fox Theatre in Oakland, California, and is significant as it’s where the band played the album for the first time.

Not only does each venue represent a different album, but it also represents a different era for the band in terms of style, and they’re recreated beautifully. From the blue and green haircuts of the Dookie era to the black shirts of American Idiot, each era has a distinct look and feel, with the band being faithfully recreated and each member looking quite excellent. Their movements and antics on stage have been captured beautifully, and while it’s not the same as watching them live on stage, you do get a feel for the energy of the band and how much effort they put into their live shows.

Final thoughts: It’s pretty hard reviewing a game like Green Day: Rock Band. While the game uses the same excellent gameplay as the rest of the Rock Band series, the restricted track list in the game may well prove very off-putting to some people. If you’ve played a music rhythm game before and enjoyed it, then the decision regarding whether to get this or not really boils down to a simple question – do you like Green Day? If you’ve never been a fan then this won’t change your mind, but if you’re a hardcore or even casual fan of the band and their music, there will be more than enough here to keep you entertained.

Gameplay – 9: It’s the same great Rock Band gameplay we’ve come to expect from Harmonix, and that’s no bad thing.

Graphics – 8: Nowhere near enough arenas for my liking, but the character models are awesome and nicely show different eras of the band.

Sound – 8: As a licensed game the songs all sound as great as you’d expect them to, though the expletives have been cut from the tracks, which is slightly disappointing.

Presentation – 7: The career mode is a slight let down after the open-ended gameplay of Rock Band 2, and the unlockable extras aren’t perhaps quite as cool as they could have been.

Overall – 7: It’s Rock Band, and it’s Green Day. If those two things appeal to you, then head straight out to buy it. The ability to export the tracks to other Rock Band games means you’ll still be playing the songs long after you’ve finished with the game.