That’s not to say there aren’t some fun moments and shout-outs to fans a la Beatles Rock Band. The song “FOD” opens with no drum track, so drummer Tre Cool roams the stage aimlessly, harassing Billy Joe and generally behaving like Tre is known to behave. You’ll also see tons of typical Billy Joe facial tics that make the performance feel a bit more Green Day than a polygonal assemblage of technology.
In another bout of tit for tat, once the minimal Green Day vibe does manage to sink in, you’re plucked right back out when one of their notable lyrics is censored. Yes, the band known for its foul-mouthed singles and rebellious, punk-ish behavior has a game that is censored to avoid an M rating – because lord knows kids can’t hear “shit” anywhere else. It’s truly baffling, because the audience for this game is Green Day fans, who already own albums with cussing and don’t mind the language. Does Harmonix really think an M rating will eat into their Green Day sales that much?
Outside of the gameplay you’ll find a treasure trove of unlockable photos and videos featuring the group throughout its years of playing and touring. These are awarded the same way as in Beatles, where getting three stars on a song unlocks one photo, five stars gets you two and then another specific challenge unlocks one of several videos. Fun stuff that does a better job of summarizing their rise to fame than the comparatively bare career mode.
Of course, none of that will matter when you inevitably transfer these songs over to Rock Band 1, 2 or the upcoming 3, which is a hugely welcome feature missing from Beatles. That kind of makes this entire game feel unnecessary, more like a $60 DLC expansion than a true standalone game. It’s a common issue with all of these band-specific games (Metallica, Aerosmith and so on) that Harmonix avoided by making Beatles so visually specific. Green Day is just weaker by comparison.
Which kind of brings us full circle – if you like Green Day and Rock Band, get it now. If you’re iffy on either, there’s not enough interesting stuff going on to pull you in. I’ve never been big on the Beatles, but I beat Beatles Rock Band solely because I wanted to see what the game would do next. It gave me a new appreciation of the band and opened my eyes to why they were such a force – Green Day doesn’t quite do that, opting instead to offer superior gameplay.
Fun as any Rock Band game could be, but only if you’re already invested in both brands.
Jun 8, 2010