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Tuesday, June 08 2010 00:00

GREEN DAY: ROCK BAND (Game Review, XBOX 360)

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510tCc03HtL. SL160 Music Gaming has evolved in ways never thought possible just a few short years ago. With the next generation of games and peripherals slated to debut next week at E3 in Los Angeles, could some visions of the future be included in GREEN DAY: ROCK BAND, which arrived in-stores today?
GREEN DAY: ROCK BAND

Developer: Harmonix Music Systems | Publisher: MTV Games | Distributed by: Electronic Arts
Reviewed on: XBOX 360
Instrument of Choice: Drums (RB 1st Gen)

With the majority of music gamers currently split into two camps with GUITAR HERO on one side and ROCK BAND on the other, I've always leaned toward the latter. In fact, the release of the first ROCK BAND led to my original ownership of an XBOX 360 complete with the first generation RB SPECIAL EDITION. Harmonix Music Systems pioneered the genre, bringing the true "band" feel into music gaming long before anyone else looked beyond plastic guitars.

Building upon a solid base of installed peripherals driven by fans of RB and ROCK BAND 2, the developer first dabbled with one-band action with their AC/DC TRACK PACK, then taking their time in developing last years excellent BEATLES: ROCK BAND. While single-band games from the other side of the fence like GUITAR HERO: METALLICA and GUITAR HERO: VAN HALEN arrived with either a bang or a fizzle, neither could match the replay value found within the ROCK BAND franchise. With constantly-updated DLC and export features to expand play beyond the single-band realm, Harmonix has mastered the art of keeping their games fresh long after most would meet their expiration date.

With ROCK BAND 3 slated for release this Fall, the bridge between the old and new has arrived with the release of GREEN DAY: ROCK BAND (in-stores now). Built upon the technology that amazed gamers with the BEATLES game last year, GD:RB takes players on a career path that starts with the band in the era of DOOKIE and continues into the modern age of 21st CENTURY BREAKDOWN.

GREEN DAY: ROCK BAND is immersive, pulling the player into the world of the band to create a true gaming "experience." The gameplay is smooth, continuing the tradition of subtle refinements with subsequent ROCK BAND releases - but it's the extras that set this game apart... if you're a hardcore GREEN DAY fan. If you're a member of that group, calling it "immersive" might be an understatement.

Casual ROCK BAND players may tire of the song selection, while those that prefer to strum the plastic guitar may find that the GREEN DAY catalog (especially the early works) lacks the challenge or shred-factor they crave after mastering the likes of STEELY DAN or COHEED AND CAMBRIA. Despite these facts, the casual player or those unfamiliar with the band will no doubt become educated about a punk trio that managed to reinvent themselves time and time again to become not only punk vets, but one of the biggest bands in rock.

As for the aforementioned extras, between the treasure trove of rare video clips, there are also over 100 unlockable images along with the expected "achievements" for completing various in-game tasks. On the drum side, in addition to the now-standard drum trainer and practice modes, RB:GD also features TRE'S GREATEST HITS, a surprisingly challenging assortment of  rhythm patterns running the gamut from basic punk to complicated shuffles and odd time signatures. The sheer amount of hidden goodies made it impossible to find them all for the purposes of this review.

Shipping with 47 on-game songs, six additional GREEN DAY tracks can be found available for purchase in the RB Music Store. Unlike last year's BEATLES offering, all songs from GD:RB are exportable and fully compatible with all other RB games, including the forthcoming ROCK BAND 3 (on XBOX 360 and PS3 - no export for Wii). The export costs you $10, either through a code purchase or by picking up the +PLUS edition of the game disc.

Sadly, the early GREEN DAY catalog from LOOKOUT! RECORDS is omitted from the game. Online rumblings point to either the inability to come to terms with the label over licensing, or the inavailability of suitable masters for gaming conversion. Either way, it would be nice to see these early works make their way to the ROCK BAND platform as DLC somewhere down the line if the technical possibilities exist.

Bottom line on GREEN DAY: ROCK BAND is that fans of the band will want this in their collection. Quite simply, it's a must-buy for GREEN DAY fans. Those on the fence are encouraged to rent the game first and give it a spin, especially those who are only casual music gamers.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade as Publisher of The Rock Father Magazine, he joined Adventure Publishing Group as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider—a destination for all things pop culture. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 25 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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