Green Day Rock Band comes at a time when peripheral based music games are evolving at a radical almost overwhelming rate. It seems that in the 5 or 6 years since we were first handed a plastic guitar to play something called Guitar Hero, the music peripheral genre has never stopped to take a breath, with developers coming up with new intuitive ways to make the player feel like they are having a full and immersive interactive experience with their music game of choice. The novelty of ‘just’ a plastic guitar worn off fast. After the guitar came singing into microphones. Then came drumkits, eventually full blown band setups. Heck, you can even grind the decks and pretend to be a badass disc jockey these days. Peripheral music games are big business and the developers at Harmonix and MTV games recognize this more than most. However, if there is one complaint that could be thrown at the contemporay music game it’s that while devs spend most of their time trying to create flash new peripherals, the content, i.e the music can sometimes suffer, i’m talking to you Guitar Hero: Van Halen (it sold about four copies). It’s refreshing therefore to see Harmonix step forward with Green Day Rock Band, a game thats all about the music and not about the controller.
If your familiar with the Rock Band franchise, then your familiar with the games that come before Green Day. Rock Band 1 and 2 were straight forward enough affairs and then last year the franshise went band specific for the first time with The Beatles Rock Band, a gorgeous game that not enough people played in my opinion. The expensive peripherals, all of which were moulded and designed to look just like the original band instruments, were probably enough for most people to say no to the game. With Green Day Rock Band however, there’s no additional gimmicks, no American Idiot shaped guitars, just a disc packed with a plethora of Green Day goodness. If The Beatles Rock Band could claim to reintroduce an entire new noughties generation to the music of Liverpool’s finest, then Green Day Rock Band is just all about giving this generation the music they already know and love.
Green Day RB is very simple to understand and works best when played with friends, each with their own instrument. Green Day RB supports Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Percussuion and my favourite, backing vocals. Backing vocals allow for say your guitarist, bassist or even an additional player to provide vocal harmonies to Billy Joe’s melodies or chant the idiosyncratic gang ‘heys’ to every single one of Green Day’s anthemic masterpieces. The backing vocal was first introduceed in the Beatles game and have been refined and perfected in Green Day RB.
Green Day RB plays like every other rhymth based music game you’ve played before. You strum your guitar, hit your drums or sing the lyrics in juxaposition to the coloured on screen prompts. It’s not rocket science but the better you get the more unforgiving the difficulty curve gets. Playing on expert will kill you. Probably. But it’s undeniably fun and even though the music can sometimes sound a bit repetitive, the idea of playing in a band never does.
What makes Green Day Rock Band is the sheer indulgent dedication to all things GB. It’s a Green Day fanboy’s dream. The game features 47 of the band’s most celebrated songs including two full albums, 2004′s mammoth ‘American Idiot’ and 1994′s ‘Dookie’, an album that, along with the likes of ‘Smash’ by The Offspring, is regarded as the record that re-introduced punk rock to the world. The graphics are quirky and much like Green Day, don’t take themselves THAT seriously. When you play some of Green Day’s early ninties work, you play as the band’s earliest iteration, a bunch of smelly punks, with green hair and embarressing facial piercings, in dodgy indoor venues befiiting of the underground punk scene of the time. When you play as Green Day circa 2000′s you take the reigns of a band at their peak, playing outdoor venues to thousands of people with huge stage set ups, special effects and over the top performances. If you’ve ever seen Green Day play live then you’ll know what to expect and to their credit, Harmonix have done a great job in recreating the atmosphere the band evoke when playing live. Even the band’s animations are impressively recreated.
As with most of these games, progression in single player awards you with new songs to play and new venues to play. The better you do the more the game rewards you. Their is a vast retrospective treasure chest of Green Day media to unlock with everything from never before seen band rehearsal videos, interviews and photographs. This really is every Green Day fans dream come true.
The only problem, as with all band specific games, is the insular nature of the music. It’s as simple as this, if you hate Green Day, you’ll hate this. Moreover, if you love the band, you’ll love this. I suppose the game is aimed at a specific punk rock demographic but seeing as how universally huge Green Day are in the contemporary music idiom, it should be enough to persuade Rock Band fans on the periphery of ‘should i/shouldn’t i’ to part cash for this game.
Green Day Rock Band will give you many hours of fun and is a worthy purchase for any perspective rocker. Pick it up and kill time before Rock Band 3 launches this autumn.
TGL SCORE 8/10
Format: Playstation 3 (version reviewed), Xbox 360, Wii
Release Date: June 11th
Publisher: EA/MTV Games
Developer: Harmonix/Demiurge Studios