Green Day: Rock Band
"I wanna be in the minority," is a line from the Green Day track "Minority" that loses its meaning the more the band pack out stadiums and grow in mainstream popularity. And now, said popularity has lead to this: Green Day: Rock Band, the second in a series of standalone Rock Band titles centred around a single band, although we're not entirely sure how or why Green Day is next on Harmonix' list after The Beatles in warranting their very own Rock Band tribute.
And where The Beatles: Rock Band lovingly chronicled an iconic band's career, the same degree of reverence hasn't been lavished upon Green Day: Rock Band, which is broken down into three venues from key moments in the band's history, one of which is inexplicably fictional.
From the beginning of the game's career mode, all three venues are open for you to play in whichever order you choose, although it makes more sense to play chronologically, beginning with 1994, marking performances from the band's Dookie album at the fabricated Warehouse venue - a fleapit created to encapsulate the feel and atmosphere of early Green Day gigs, back when the band had brightly coloured hair.
Sadly, for die-hard Green Day fans, Dookie is as early as it gets, so nothing from 1992's Kerplunk or debut album 39/Smooth is featured on the track list, but there's plenty of post-1994 material to wade through despite the band's albums between Dookie and American Idiot being reduced to two and three track sidenotes.
The majority of Green Day: Rock Band's tracks are taken from the band's three most popular albums, presented in their entirety (save the exclusion of Dookie's hidden track and an absence of six tracks from 21st Century Breakdown available as a DLC track pack on the Rock Band Store), so The Warehouse venue gives you all of 1994's Dookie to strum, drum and sing along to, while the 2005 Milton Keynes' venue made famous by the 'Bullet in a Bible' concert video, is where you'll find the contents of the American Idiot album as well as a handful of tracks from Insomniac, Nimrod and Warning.
The final 2009 venue is comprised purely of twelve of the eighteen tracks from 21st Century Breakdown (unless you purchase the North American 'Plus' edition which includes the six DLC tracks), charting Green Day's latest tour which included an intimate show at the Fox Theatre, Oakland venue, which is faithfully recreated in-game with all of the requisite video-wall imagery that was present for the original tour.
Each of these three venues is itself divided into three sets, which when completed unlocks another set to play through. As Rock Band career modes go, it's pretty shallow and uninspired, offering little in the way of innovation or new features. In fact, it's almost like Rock Band Lite, stripping away much of the fun and involving career progression from the other games. Even The Beatles' psychedelic journey through time is more interesting and engaging than the paltry three venues and comparatively linear structure. Earning 'Cred' with each successfully completed track opens up new challenges, which goes some way to making things a little more intriguing, but it's still not quite enough to compensate for the lack of a proper Rock Band career.
3 and 5 star performances also unlock collectible photographs and exclusive footage, but once you've earned all of the bonus archive content, there's no real reason to return to Green Day: Rock Band's career, especially when you can just play it all in quickplay at your leisure. And while each venue is bold and detailed and Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tr Cool all certainly look the part - just like their actual counterparts from each specific year in fact - it would have been nice to have been presented with more from the band's more than 20-year history.
Still, love them or hate them, Green Day's own brand of punk-pop suits the Rock Band format perfectly and fans will likely blast through the 47 song tracklist in a matter of days. The core Rock Band gameplay wins out as usual though, and Green Day's mixture of short, energetic punk rock ditties and softer acoustic ballads will keep you occupied for as long as you're willing to keep playing Green Day songs.
Hitting coloured notes on a plastic instrument is still as compulsive as ever and Green Day's catalogue is enormous fun to thrash your merry way through, which makes it all the more frustrating that Harmonix hasn't given the career mode the kind of care, attention and much-needed injection of longevity that the game deserves. Had there been more of Green Day's 1995-2000 material and pre-1994 output, alongside some extra venues or a more accomplished sense of career progression like other Rock Band titles before it, then this might be a much more appealing package.
As it stands, Green Day: Rock Band might not seem like an obvious choice to follow The Beatles in a series of standalone Rock Band titles, yet it proves utterly essential for fans, who will find a lot to love here regardless. The track list is certainly strong enough to recommend the game for even the most casual of Green Day fans, but Rock Band virgins and those that detest the pop-punk trio will undoubtedly be better served by Rock Band 2 or the forthcoming Rock Band 3 and its keytars, due later in the year.
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