Nobody can deny that the music/rhythm genre has been something of a sensation. It has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and with the arrival of Rock Band, it was finally possible to get a group of friends together to simulate, well, a rock band. Such is the popularity of the genre that Harmonix has decided to start releasing games dedicated to specific artists. This started with The Beatles: Rock Band last year and the follow-up is Green Day: Rock Band.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of Rock Band, it allows players to use various peripherals to create a "band". This usually consists of a lead guitar, bass guitar, drum kit and microphone - however, any combination of these can be played on their own. The Beatles: Rock Band also brought in the ability to perform vocal harmonies, so multiple microphones can be used. This means that someone can even play an instrument, while taking part in vocal harmonies.
For the instrumental players, different "notes", which appear as coloured blocks, come flying toward the player. They are then charged with hitting the corresponding button with the correct timing. Doing so will make the song sound great, failing to do so will create awkward sounds and the instrument to almost disappear from the song entirely. Hitting strings of notes in succession will boost the "performance meter", but failing to hit notes will make it decrease. If this happens consistently, they will be forced to drop out, although it is possible to return to the play using an overdrive.
There's a pseudo career mode, which allows players to travel around to various arenas and unlock content, but all of the songs are available from the start. It's up to players how difficult they want to make it, or if they simply want to play "No Fail" mode, but the harder it is, the better the rewards. And that's really where the impetus of Green Day: Rock Band is. For a fan of Green Day, the content that's available and that can be unlocked is golden. There are exclusive videos and pictures, and the band act as Green Day would during the songs. The venues are also very close to the hearts of Green Day fans, although there are only three, and the track-listing picks some of the best Green Day tracks.
However, in terms of gameplay, the game adds next to nothing. Unlike The Beatles: Rock Band, which added the vocal harmony option, Green Day: Rock Band doesn't really do anything to extend the franchise and further it - it literally is just Rock Band, with a Green Day theme. This aspect is slightly disappointing, especially as there are already Green Day songs available for download that can be played using previous versions of Rock Band. This version does allow some of them to be played using the new vocal harmony mechanic, but it's not a huge addition.
The quality of the presentation is a high point though. The opening cinematic really sets the scene and everything from the menus to the performances really helps to give the game some life. It has a much more down to earth feel than previous titles and Harmonix have tried to allow Green Day's personality to shine through with the title. Players will even witness a mini-revolt on stage if a song is failed, a nice touch.
There are 47 tracks included on the game, including the full track listings from Dookie and American Idiot. 21st Century Breakdown is an incomplete album, but the excluded tracks can be acquired via the "Plus" edition of the game, or by previously purchasing them. However, every song in the game can be exported for use with any previous version of Rock Band (excluding The Beatles: Rock Band). With the unlockables present, some of which are previous unseen, Green Day fans will probably enjoy attempting to acquire them all.
Green Day: Rock Band is exactly that, Rock Band specifically geared around Green Day. It doesn't really add anything new to either Rock Band and it certainly doesn't expand the music and rhythm genre. The unlockable content is a nice touch, but it will only really resonate with fans and that's basically what this game is, fan service. Probably not worth checking out for general fans of the genre, but fans of Green Day will find much to appreciate.