Of all the possible choices for the subject of a Rock Band standalone title, it's unlikely many people expected Green Day would be on the list.

The Beatles - sure, despite logistical problems involving copyright, estates, and finding someone capable of working with Paul McCartney without going postal, you could understand why that game was made. But Green Day? Seriously?

There's little point in going over the history of the band, or indeed really discussing the impact of Green Day's music over the past couple of decades. Green Day means to you what it always will. Personally, I could take or leave them - they have a few songs that seem ingrained in popular culture, such as Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), Basket Case and When I Come Around, all of which are available to play.

The format of the game remains closely aligned with earlier Rock Band releases. Fortunately, the developers have realised that nobody really likes to have to unlock music before being able to play anything decent with friends, so the setlist is entirely available out of the box in quickplay mode. The career, too, follows a fairly linear path, with a requirement to play through sets from three gig locations in order to unlock challenges, which consist of replaying songs you've already passed. It's all overwhelmingly as you would expect, and none of the game features really go any way to explaining why Green Day have managed to score a game dedicated to themselves.

There's little point in assuming the unlockable images and movies will go far to explaining it either. They're obviously inserted to placate those who profess a more than passing interest in the history of the band, and fair enough too. Likewise, the achievements, of which there are many, are clearly designed to cater for those able to tolerate listening to Green Day for an extremely long period of time. Using Overdrive 100 times as a vocalist, or starting a new career and reaching the credits within 12 hours as part of a 4-player band would most likely result in terminal boredom for anyone who isn't a paid-up member of the fan club.

As so often the case, the music that displays the most level of artistic talent is from their early work, such as many of the tracks from the album Dookie - their highest selling to date. Examining the discography from an aerial viewpoint isn't really going to reveal why the Rock Band franchise decided on Green Day as opposed to - I don't know - The Rolling Stones, U2, AC/DC, The Who, KISS, Queen, or any other number of high-grossing, decade-spanning bands with varied musical style and a truckload of recognisable hits. Even Nirvana: Rock Band would probably be more appealing, the exclusion of which is made doubly more confusing when you consider Harmonix have missed the opportunity to introduce a new shotgun peripheral.

The secret here is to play the game. It's only then that you realise just how suited Green Day is to the entire Rock Band experience.

From the fast, catchy chord changes to the intense drum lines and energetic vocals, it's not so much a matter of whether you think the music is any good, or you have any respect for the band, it's more that the game experience itself is immensely enjoyable. There's no hand-holding, singalong, memory lane material that practically oozed from The Beatles: Rock Band. Instead, you have the audience chanting, members of the band acting up on stage, and a degree of difficulty across all instruments far in excess of anything found in the Fab Four's release.

In having said that, the old maxim applies - if you don't like Green Day, it's unlikely that this game will change your mind. After all, there are absolutely no songs by any other artists in the set list. Fortunately however, the 47 songs can be exported to Rock Band, Rock Band 2 and (eventually) Rock Band 3, which is probably what franchise aficionados would be best to consider down the track, particularly as once you've unlocked a handful of songs and generally grown weary of the Green Day theme, there's little else to compel you to return.

Most of what Green Day: Rock Band sets out to achieve could have been realised in the form of a track pack for Rock Band 2. The additional features (such as the support for three microphones and graphical/audio changes to the stage animations) by themselves don't really warrant the additional effort of creating a standalone title. Neither really do the collectables, which could have been a lot more interesting if they'd included DLC codes for songs that influenced the band, or perhaps some tokens to redeem merchandise online. It's the entire Green Day experience, for sure, it's just that the positive aspects of the experience have more to do with the creative placement of notes and the energy introduced by the developers rather than the joy of playing as Green Day.

For some, that's probably going to be enough. The rest of us more than likely made our mind up fifteen years ago.


See over the page for a full track listing.

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