Game Rant's Jeff Schille reviews Green Day: Rock Band.
It's all but impossible to review Green Day: Rock Band without also commenting on the band's career. Simply put, though the songs have become more accomplished and ambitious over time, Green Day's catalog sports a remarkably consistent sound: up-tempo, strongly melodic blasts of energy. As individual songs, this aesthetic makes a great number of the 47 tracks included in Green Day: Rock Band a lot of fun to play. Over the course of the game, however, a certain amount of unavoidable monotony sets it.
As a game, Green Day: Rock Band sits squarely in the shadow of the reverent, glorious The Beatles: Rock Band. It is no insult to state that Green Day's recorded output is nowhere near as diverse as The Beatles', and the game reflects that.
Where the The Beatles: Rock Band featured a number of diverse performance settings, including historically important concert stages and elaborate dreamscapes, Green Day: Rock Band features only a limited number of venues: The Warehouse, Milton Keynes and The Fox Theater.
That said, the game looks nice enough, and the band members strongly resemble their real-life counterparts, albeit in a slightly Muppety way. Visuals have a heavy layer of simulated film grain, and camera work is suitably dynamic.
Character animation is one of the game's strong suits, with the members of Green Day not only playing, but behaving, authentically -- for example, drummer Tre Cool will often run out to the front of the stage during portions of songs where his musical services are not required. Even better is the way the band members point at and blame one another when players fail a song.
The character models display a lot of personality, and are appropriate to the disperate eras represented in the game. Near the beginning, for instance, front man Billy Joe Armstrong has blue hair and wears a baseball shirt on which he has scrawled "stupid." Later in the game, in addition to playing visibly more expensive guitars, Armstrong has become the eyelinered, tie wearing figure you could see in concert today.
The game features the standard Rock Band career mode, progress in which unlocks Challenges. Like The Beatles: Rock Band, the career mode runs along a chronological progression, and lacks the song repetition endemic to the numbered Rock Band titles. Though this structure lends an air of historical accuracy to the proceedings, it does not always work in the game's favor.
Green Day: Rock Band's Career Mode is divided among the game's three venues, each of which is further divided into a number of sets. The first of these venues, The Warehouse, has players plowing through the band's breakthrough album Dookie in its entirety. It is here that the lack of sonic variety in Green Day's compositions is most obvious, and tiring. It's a notable relief when the second venue becomes available, and the set begins with the relatively radical (for Green Day) "Wake Me Up When September Ends."
Getting to that point should be no problem for even the least experienced music-gamers. Green Day: Rock Band is, without question, the least challenging of the Rock Band games. That is not a criticism - Green Day is not Rush, and the designers at Harmonix have honored that. Guitar is almost strictly a rhythm affair, and drum parts are pretty straight-forward. Mike Dirnt's melodic, walking bass parts are always a lot of fun to play.
Green Day: Rock Band features support for harmony vocals, just as The Beatles: Rock Band did. However, in contrast to the tricky, occasionally obtuse Beatles harmonies, Green Day's harmony vocal lines are simple and clear. For anyone who ever wanted to learn the basics of harmony singing, Green Day: Rock Band is a great place to start.
To be sure, Green Day: Rock Band is loaded with photos and films, fascinating little historical bonuses for certified fans of the band to unlock by mastering the game's Challenge Mode.
For the rest of us, Green Day: Rock Band is an accessible, propulsive music game. Though it is unlikely to change your opinion of either Green Day or Rock Band, if you are open to either one, you will probably have a good time with Green Day: Rock Band.
Green Day: Rock Band is available now for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii. Game Rant reviewed the game on Xbox 360.