Activision has pumped out rhythm games centered on a single band — Aerosmith, Metallica, and Van Halen have all had their own Guitar Hero. Harmonix has offered only The Beatles: Rock Band. Until now.
|Green Day: Rock Band | For the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii | Rated T for Teen | Developed by Harmonix | Published by MTV Games|
It's hard to imagine how this game's pitch meeting went. Which names were tossed onto the table and rejected? Queen? Led Zeppelin? What band would be worthy to follow the Beatles?
After the Beatles, of course, any band would have been an anticlimax. Green Day are a still-active, successful, pop-punk group, and perhaps a better choice for the younger set than a classic rock icon would have been. Green Day: Rock Band offers almost the exact same formula as The Beatles: Rock Band — with the obvious and significant difference. To say that you must enjoy Green Day's music in order to enjoy this title would be the understatement of the year.
Unfortunately, after playing Green Day: Rock Band, even a diehard fan will notice that Green Day's songwriting involves building a tune around a repetitive-and-catchy but oh-God-repetitive hook. Such songs make great charttoppers, and they're no small feat to write, but they don't make for an enjoyable Rock Band experience — especially if you're looking for songs that pose a challenge.
Power-chord anthems like "When I Come Around," "Wake Me Up When September Ends," and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" do pose a challenge . . . but it's the mind-numbingly repetitive structures that get you, not the killer solos or the tricky harmonies. And though there are harmonies, they're hardly as innovative as the ones in The Beatles: Rock Band. The first harmony is nearly always up or down a third, or else in perfect unison with the lead vocalist. The second harmony is generally an "ooh" or "aah" on the tonic.
The upside to simple harmonics is that the other musicians in your band (even the ones who can't sing very well) shouldn't have any problem hopping on board, provided you have a couple of extra mics. Your band can ace the vocal score on a song even if you all sound like a caravan of bellowing gorillas — so, actually, I take it back, that's not an upside.
You'll also have the opportunity to play through entire albums in one stretch. That works best with the lyrically thematic rock opera American Idiot. Those who've been Green Day fans for a decade or more, however, may be disappointed with the 47-song track list, since it leans toward newer material. Green Day: Rock Band includes all of Dookie, American Idiot, and the their most recent album, 21st Century Breakdown (parts of which were already released as DLC on Rock Band). There are only a few songs from the rest of Green Day's output.
One of the game's other disappointments is that there are only three venues, and the guys look pretty much the same in each. Even the unlockable content feels like a tacked-on consolation prize now that people can find videos and old pictures of bands for free online.
Green Day: Rock Band feels phoned-in, especially when compared with The Beatles: Rock Band. Whether or not you think Green Day "deserved" to be Harmonix' next pick, the band definitely deserve better than this — and so do you.
Rent the game and buy the $10 export key to rip the songs to Rock Band if you want them. Green Day: Rock Band come off as a glorified DLC track pack, so you're within your rights as a gamer to treat it like one.