Green Day: Rock Band features 47 tracks spanning the band’s career, hanging mainly around breakthrough album Dookie and American Idiot, both of which are included in full, and 21st Century Breakdown, with twelve of the eighteen tracks on-disc (21st Century Breakdown can also be completed with optional downloadable content; though I was unable to test this, I believe that you have to download the content on Rock Band 2, copy it to a standard SD card and then boot up Green Day: Rock Band, as there is no in-game music store). A few tracks from Insomniac, Nimrod and Warning round things out. Following the now-familiar format set by Rock Band and Guitar Hero, players hold aloft a multitude of instruments - guitar, bass, drums or microphone - and strike the coloured buttons / shriek like a banshee in time with the matching gems that sail down the screen and the lyrics that slide across it to play along to some of their favourite songs.
It’s the same formula that has been present in the series since day one, only Green Day: Rock Band’s engine builds upon Rock Band 2’s, employing features from The Beatles: Rock Band such as the use of multiple microphones. Up to three singers can join the fun, provided you have the mics and USB slots - you’ll need an external USB hub - and all sing along over the same vocal track. Alternately, a harmony vocal mode is available, wherein each singer follows a different path along the lyrics. For example, one singer might be the main vocalist, another might be a backing vocals, or the lyrics will get traded-off back and forth between players. Solo players can also use harmonies, but there seems little advantage in selecting that vocal mode when playing alone - most likely, you’re only going to sing along to the main vocals, anyway.
Though it shares some of the same features, however, Green Day: Rock Band does not display much of the ambition present in The Beatles: Rock Band. Whereas the Fab Four’s title’s centrepiece is a story mode that spans their career, with beautiful cutscenes and the occasional extravagant dreamscape backing video on certain songs, Green Day: Rock Band’s main mode can be boiled down to a series of menus. Subdivided into eras, you can take to the stage in venues from different points in the band’s career: the fictional Warehouse, based around the small venues the band played in before they found huge success, is home to the Dookie songs; Milton Keynes’ National Bowl, the site of their first stadium show, hosts American Idiot; and The Fox Theatre in Oakland, California, is where you’ll have a 21st Century Breakdown. Within each of these venues there are sets to complete, players picking one song at a time in any order of their choosing. As you perform you will unlock new songs, new sets and earn ‘Cred’, used to unlock further challenges; usually a few songs that you have to play back-to-back. The career mode is partially redeemed by the large vault of media that will be of interest to any Green Day fan, photos and videos unlocked by completed songs and challenges.
The inclusion of media treats does not change what is a shallow excuse for a career mode, however. There’s no real sense of progression outside of unlocking new sets, as you can skip between the three eras/venues at your own will, and thus you are not tunneled through a story of any kind. Part of the problem lies in Green Day themselves. While undoubtedly worthy of having a large number of tracks in Rock Band due to their impact, they are not a particularly iconic band in the same way that The Beatles were/are; only a mega-star would have been able to follow up that game with their own and not be a disappointment. Debatably, only artists such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Queen, perhaps even Prince, David Bowie or Madonna, would have been able to match up to the previous band-specific game while offering enough distinct eras to make for an interesting story, which makes the decision to go with Green Day as the next band-specific title a little mystifying.
While the career mode may not be too inspiring, other areas of the package are well-filled out. All of Green Day: Rock Band’s tracks are ready to go from the very start in Quick Play mode. It provides much the same amount of fun as any other game with the Rock Band moniker, and online - co-operative and competitive, even full career - is available if you can’t get all your mates in one place at once. Harmonix have also done a great job with the style of the game: all menus carry a punkish, Green Day-esque motif, and there are custom animations and routines for each song, with the accurate character movements/appearances and different light shows and effects for every track. This is probably a large reason for it being disc-based; while the performances are not as inspiring as in The Beatles: Rock Band and often look similar, they are, nonetheless, unique. On top of that there is also a drum training mode and detailed tracked ‘accomplishments’ to encourage you to get the most out of your game.