Review: Green Day: Rock Band

Harmonix had just finished their first game featuring a single band, a project featuring one of the most successful, memorable, and loved bands of all time: The Beatles.  While the game didn’t sell as well as most had expected, it was well received both by critics and gamers alike, and undoubtedly the guys at Harmonix had to be wondering how they could ever hope to top The Beatles.  Somewhere in the back of what I imagine was a dimly lit room that smelled of liquor and desperation someone spoke up, “How about… Green Day: Rock Band!”  And most likely due to the crippling fear of trying to one-up The Beatles the rest of the room was quickly won over by the thought of having any plan at all.  This is at least how I imagine Green Day: Rock Band came to be, because it is ultimately a game that did not need to exist.

The more realistic explanation is that the super talented team over at Harmonix are just big Green Day fans (and there is nothing wrong with that), who felt that a couple of track packs released as DLC just wouldn’t do the band justice.  If you absolutely love Green Day you may agree with this line of thought, but to most people who enjoy Green Day but can’t name many songs beyond the most popular singles, this seemed a rather odd move.  Considering how the game sold more people were in the latter group as the $60 price point failed to register with many and the sales were far from great.  But this blog is about looking at games from a clearance price point, so does Green Day: Rock Band still seem like an odd idea at a severely reduced price?  Yes and no.

The game features two complete Green Day albums: Dookie and American Idiot. The rest of the soundtrack consists of most of the 21st Century Breakdown album (with the remaining tracks available as DLC, meaning 21st can become the third complete album in the game), in addition to a solid collection of most of the band’s radio hits and several other fan favorites.  Quite frankly this doesn’t work out as well as I’m sure Harmonix thought it would.  While American Idiot resonated well as an album with many people back in 2004, 21st Century Breakdown had far less success, and as a moderate fan of Green day I have to question taking so much material for the game off of just three albums.  Unlike The Beatles, Green Day has little variance at any one period or album in their career.  While the difference between Dookie and 21st Century Breakdown is huge, any track from Dookie sounds like a track from Dookie and the same can certainly be said for American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. Green Day has changed, but there isn’t a lot of variance on their individual albums.

The main criticism though of Green Day: Rock Band is that while Beatles: Rock Band featured some of the most iconic places in Beatle history, and awesome “Dreamscape” animations that made the background animation in a music game something you really cared to watch for the first time, Green Day only features three, largely forgettable, venues with three outfit changes for the band.  In fact there is far more variance in a regular Rock Band game. The separation of songs mostly by albums also means that within any particular venue the difficulty changes dramatically between songs and there is an incredibly limited variance in the musical style for large periods of time. That being said the band animations are top notch and does a great job of capturing the spirit of a live Green Day show.

Also like The Beatles, Green Day has unlockable photos and video for completing certain challenges and getting a certain number of stars on songs.  This falls a bit flat though, as Green Day being a modern band with no shortage of available media, I was far less interested in the content than the harder to find content that filled the Beatles disc.  The challenges required to unlock the videos are far more annoying than the Beatles as well.  In particular challenges that require playing an entire album and or longer playlist suffer from the fact that Green Day’s catalogue is nowhere near as varied in style as The Beatles’. (Often getting repetitive) All that considered, much like The Beatles: Rock Band, Green Day is likely to help build a further appreciation for the band and will leave many moderate fans truly noticing the drastic difference between their 90’s stuff and the music of American Idiot and 21st Century, and as someone who has an immense appreciation for music it really is fun to literally play the band’s slow transition over the years.

In short: If you like Green Day and you like Rock Band you’ll at least enjoy playing through this, but it is no where near the polished project that is Beatles or Rock Band 3.  It ultimately just feels like an elaborate Track Pack, and should have probably been priced as such from the onset.  In fact, the best aspect of this game is that for 800 points you can export the entire song list to Rock Band 2 or 3 where the lack of variance between songs can be avoided.  If you intend to do so the value, and therefore rating would be improved, as the game is best viewed as an extra large track pack add-on to Rock Band 2 or 3, rather than a stand-alone game.

Final Rating: 5/10

CBN Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Approximate Time to Completion: 3-5 hours
Gamer Score Earned: 265g
Price Bought at: $20
Recommend Purchase Price: $10-15 if you are going to use the export option, otherwise not worth the purchase

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