Thursday, June 17, 2010
"Green Day: Rock Band" may leave you jaded
By LOU KESTEN
Only a few bands have catalogs deep and versatile enough to carry their own version of "Rock Band." The Beatles? They've already pulled it off. Beyond the Fab Four, it's a short list: the Rolling Stones, the Who, maybe Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin.
Green Day? Not so much.
And this is a band I like a lot -- far more than Aerosmith, Metallica and Van Halen, the acts that have anchored "Guitar Hero" editions. The problem is that despite Green Day's ambitions and accomplishments, there's not much variety in its set list. You have your fast, punky songs and your slow, melancholy ballads, but a sort of sameness settles in after a few hours of "Green Day: Rock Band" (MTV Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $59.99; Wii, $49.99).
That becomes more apparent when you play the career mode.
Developer Harmonix pulled out all the stops when it came to the Beatles, producing elaborate, psychedelic animations for the songs. Green Day, however, gets just three venues to play in: a club called The Warehouse, the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, England, and the Fox Theater in Oakland, Calif.
The disc has 47 songs, including every track from 1994's "Dookie" and 2004's "American Idiot." There's a smattering of singles from the period between those two landmarks, including "Brain Stew/Jaded," "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" and "Minority." And there's about half of last year's "21st Century Breakdown" -- if you want the rest, you have to pay to download it.
And that's ... well, infuriating.
If you're paying $60 for "Green Day: Rock Band," the publisher ought to throw in those extra six tracks for nothing extra. And if you want to transfer the songs on the Green Day disc to your hard drive (so you can play them in other "Rock Band" games), you have to fork over another $10. You get those things free on the $70 "Green Day: Rock Band Plus" edition, but it feels like MTV is nickel-and-diming its loyal audience.
Some of the songs here -- pop-punk gems like "Hitchin' a Ride" and "Holiday" -- will make it into my regular "Rock Band" rotation. Almost all of them are fun to play, even if just once, and if you're a Green Day fan, this is an essential purchase. With "Rock Band 3" right around the corner, though, casual admirers of the threesome aren't likely to get $60 worth of fun out of this edition.
Two stars out of four.
M4dski11z's take: For me, "Green Day: Rock Band" was a totally new experience. Truth be told, I had never heard of the group - ha - but gave this title a spin. As a reviewer, I am fortunate to review games that I would not normally be interested in. Sometimes, I am pleasantly shocked by a game - it's under the radar and loads of fun. I tell my friends about it - and tout it to the masses. Most times, though, I play a game and know that I'd never get it because it's not my cup of tea. This time around, that's how I feel about "Green Day: Rock Band." With "Beatles: Rock Band," I had a blast. I wasn't a Beatles fan, but their music is so universally accepted and iconic. You really feel like you are part of the Beatles. The game will go down as one of the best Rock Band games of all-time. This offering was a good attempt, but I fear this franchise, as game-changing as it was, will end up going the Guitar Hero route and just crank out more and more Rock Band: (Insert band here). Unless you are a diehard fan of Green Day, I do not think it will move you.
Harmonix, you still have the music game series crown. Don't just crank out more and more Rock Band iconic band games. Let that go and die quietly. Give gamers something that will have them at work thinking about rushing home to play your game. Offer them - offer us a game that will make your competition pause and change their game, like Activision/Red Octane did by offering a full slate of instrument controllers with their games.
Press pause and give the series a hard reboot. Trust me, the gamers will wait for it. They will appreciate your next offering a lot more than just cranking out game after game to keep your revenue stream going.
2 stars (out of 4 stars)