PS3 Review: Greenday Rockband

Review Platform: PS3
Publisher: Harmonix
Price: $59.99
Pros: Solid gameplay; great animations and environments
Cons: Brings nothing new to the genre
Verdict: Buy it if you want Rockband content or are a big Green Day fan

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Music games. You love them, right? I certainly do. I’ve owned and played through Rockband 1, 2, and The Beatles Rockband in the last couple of years, and STILL do so today due to my enduring love for the genre. I’ve even steered into Guitar Hero 5 and found it quite enjoyable. What is it that makes a good music rhythm game? I think it’s a combination of things, including the ability to role play the rock experience from small club to large stadium, the chance to really focus in on specific parts of a favorite song, and the undeniable joy of musical collaboration with a group of other people in order to produce rock and roll music. Rockband 1 and 2 use this formula to great success, allowing all of us, talented or not, to participate in rock culture and performance. The Beatles Rockband allows us to do the same, but with a specific, single band, allowing the true fan and the uninitiated alike to learn about and marvel at what may be the greatest musical pop culture phenomenon of the past fifty years or so.

Green Day is a hugely successful band, and one with a popularity that crosses music fan lines. Without a longer time span or musical career history, however, does this game hold the same weight and attraction that one like The Beatles does? I’m going to have to say no, with the caveat that if you are a superfan of Green Day, this game will bring you joy. However, if you are not a rabid fan of Green Day itself, you can still have a wonderful time with the game. I found myself enjoying playing along with the trio, marveling at Mike Dirnt’s ability to play complex bass lines AND sing backup like a champ. The antics of drummer, Tre Cool (one of the cutest little pseudonyms I’ve heard in a long time), amused me to no end; watching him do the signature “stand on the drum stool and ham it up for the audience” trick from the tiniest club gig to the largest stadium is truly joyful. As I played through the various musical eras of Green Day, I began to have a greater and greater respect for the band’s willingness to mature and grow toward a more musical, less power punk cliche style of songwriting and arrangement. Say what you will about Green Day, but these boys are talented.

The animation of the three main characters is very good, though there is some repetition early on that is noticeable. That being said, the high degree of fidelity both in lip sync and hand movements kept me watching well across the whole game. The crowds are fairly generic, and I was taken out of the experience several times to have them all pogo jumping in unison to a slow song segment; I suggest developers spend a LITTLE more time randomizing crowd movements and then making the audience move to the actual song playing. It would help with the immersion factor, I believe.

Other than the band and the music, this is the Rockband you know and love. Earn stars for high performance, and get pictures and movies of the band as a reward when you attain 3 or 5 stars. Gain “Cred” from your play throughs and use that to unlock even more audio visual treats. Vocals allow you and up to two other players to sing along in harmony, which is truly the highlight of both single-band Rockband games thus far. Can I enthuse again about Mike Dirnt? Tell you what, go crank the bass difficulty up to Expert and THEN stick a mic in front of you and sing the harmonies. I dare ya.

All in all, this game is a solid outing in the Rockband franchise, and while it brings nothing new to the game play table, having the chance to play through an entire career, however short it may seem, is rewarding in and of itself. These kids took a dream, pursued it, lived in a Bookmobile, and now play to sold out stadium crowds. Now that’s a power fantasy I can get into. I’d reccomend a purchase if you are a) a Green Day fan (you already own this, though), b) are tired of the songs you have played through a dozen times each and want some new music to add to your Rockband collection (there is some sort of export feature that allows you to download the music to your hard drive and play from within Rockband 2), or c) feel the need to learn more about the band itself. Otherwise, grab the game at the rental shop, and see what you think. It’s really a lot of fun, and even while it brings nothing new to the Rockband table, at least it’s new stuff to watch.

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