Green Day: Rock Band is exactly what a band- specific music game should be.
It comes as no surprise that the minds at Harmonix and MTV Games succeeded, given their terrific work on The Beatles: Rock Band.
The Guitar Hero franchise should take note, because Green Day fans got what Van Halen fans wanted with Guitar Hero: Van Halen. And what would that be? Their favorite band.
It sounds simple. If you're going to make a rhythm game devoted to a single band, make it the best possible experience for fans of that band. In the case of Green Day, Harmonix released two full albums, Dookie and American Idiot, and the rest of 21st Century Breakdown, which previously had a six-song track pack released.
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They also peppered in a handful of songs from the band's less popular mid-career albums, for a total of 47 tracks.
On the other hand, the Guitar Hero developers included just 25 Van Halen songs, and none newer than 1984 (hope you didn't like Right Now, a song that gained fame as a Pepsi commercial). But because a 25-song game is kind of lame, the developers added 19 songs from other bands, including Fountains of Wayne's Stacy's Mom, a song with no obvious connection to Van Halen. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero: Metallica also were cluttered with too many tracks from other bands.
In Green Day: Rock Band, you get Green Day, and if you're a fan of the band, that's what you want. And you get Green Day from throughout the best of its career. Granted, there aren't any songs from the trio's first two albums, but it wasn't for not trying.
In an interview with Game Informer, drummer Tré Cool said the band wanted to include tracks from 39/Smooth and Kerplunk, but the masters weren't in good enough shape for that to happen. Here's hoping they eventually come as downloadable content; knowing Rock Band, they probably will.
As with any of these stand-alone band games, the toughest assignment for the developer is making the game good enough that it's worth playing instead of just exporting the tracks to Rock Band 2 to play along with the rest of your library.
Green Day: Rock Band includes a nice career mode and a unique design that is flavored with elements of Green Day's album covers and icons over the years. It also includes prizes, such as rare images and videos from the band's career, including its first-ever MTV News interview before the release of Dookie.
On the downside, the game doesn't offer any major innovations to the Rock Band gameplay, but I certainly didn't expect that out of this game. That's what Rock Band 3 is for later this year.
However, it does incorporate the vocal harmonies established with The Beatles: Rock Band, so that's a nice touch.
I was a bit disappointed that there weren't at least each of the singles from the mid-career albums Insomniac, Nimrod and Warning. The missing ones are Stuck With Me and Walking Contradiction from Insomniac, Redundant from Nimrod, and Waiting and Macy's Day Parade from Warning.
But that hardly detracts from what is otherwise an excellent addition to the gaming library of any Green Day or alternative rock fan. For those fans, welcome to paradise (cheesy, I know).