Green Day: Rock Band Xbox 360 Review

June 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher: EA/MTV Games  Developer: Harmonix/Demiurge Studios  Genre: Rhythm Action

Players: 1-6  Age Rating: 12+  Other console/handheld formats: PS3, Wii

Harmonix has become synonymous with the rhythm action genre, and in particular the plastic instruments that provide the fun with Rock Band. As the developer gears up for the release of Rock Band 3, this latest stand-alone game has a lot to live up to.

In many ways, Green Day are a perfect fit for the current Rock Band set-up. The three piece punk rock of Billie Joe (guitar and lead vocals), Mike Dirnt (bass and backing vocals), and Tre Cool (drums and backing vocals) maps easily onto the familiar note charts. With three-part harmonies to sing along with, this feature of The Beatles Rock Band is revived before its inclusion in Rock Band 3.

The Career Mode is based around three gigs in venues representing the progress of the band’s career. The Dookie album of 1994 is played in The Warehouse, a fictional venue inspired by the places Green Day played before they made it big. American Idiot’s world tour is immortalised in the form of the Milton Keynes Bowl performance in 2005, while 21st Century Breakdown is marked by the Fox Theatre, Oakland. Each venue has more than one set to play through, with the player earning Cred for getting 3 or 5 stars on a song and completing a set. Cred is then used to unlock additional Challenges – from playing through the entire Dookie album to specific themed sets – for each venue in the Career mode. Just as with The Beatles, completing songs unlocks Collectibles – photos for individual songs, video clips for beating Challenges.

You’ll need the plastic instruments in order to play.

In addition to Career mode – available both on and offline – there is the standard Quickplay option. This allows local bands to play single songs or setlists, and the same for online play using a very similar set-up to The Beatles Rock Band. There is also the Score Duel mode for those with a competitive streak.

The song list is well put together, effectively giving the Green Day fan three complete albums. The six “missing” songs from 21st Century Breakdown were available as a song pack in 2009 and can be added to the game, while all the songs can be exported for use with the main Rock Band games (unlike The Beatles tracks – Green Day tracks will carry their vocal harmonies forward to Rock Band 3). However, despite the age rating and warning symbol for bad language, all the tracks are radio edits cutting out the swearing. There seems to be no penalty for singing the swearwords though, so knock yourself out. One little thing that can annoy is the high-pitched sound for earning a star.

The animation of the motion-captured band is good, with each track having a scripted animation to show off certain moments and breath life into the song. The band walks on and off at the start and end of sets, Tre stands on his drum stool and Billie Joe urges the crowd to join in. Video screens and pyrotechnics add to the atmosphere at the later venues. The menus hold the game together well, using a grimy collection of fonts and symbols to represent the punk edge.

The depth here is provided by the challenges and the Achievements, structured in a similar way to that earlier product. Unusually there is one song that is vocals only (Song of the Century), requiring a player to have a microphone to complete every song. However, the Career mode can still be completed (to 43 out of 44 songs) without one. Drummers will have to sit out Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) as well.

You can once again pretend to be in a rock band.

Of course, making comparisons with The Beatles Rock Band is always going to be unfair to Green Day – that product was hugely anticipated and critically well received for its depth and obvious love of the subject matter. Perhaps with more venues and more songs (the Insomniac, Warning and Nimrod albums are represented by just a handful of tracks) this could have been up there with that classic. It does hold out hope of further DLC for fans though.

All in all then, another highly polished release from Harmonix (in co-operation this time with Demiurge Studios). Fans of the series will appreciate the trickier songs and the chance to play famous tracks including Basket Case and American Idiot. But on the horizon a big bomb is about to drop – Rock Band 3.