What can I say, it's Green Day Rock Band.

I am an avid Green Day fan; I grew up listening to their music and have a certain amount of nostalgia for the band. As a result, I was saddened to find that there was no mention of Green Day on either of the original Rock Band games, nor in their extensive download catalogue. Now we know why.

Facts and Figures:

Price: Currently retailing at 39.99 in the UK, full price 49.99

Hours Played: 7.5 hours - not including the challenges.

Number of Songs: 47 (+6 DLC)

Number of Sets: 3

Presentation:

While the graphics fit Green Day perfectly and take influence from many of their early videos and CD art, this is definitely a step backwards from Beatles Rock Band. Gone are the music video style performances that made Beatles Rock Band not only a joy to play but a joy to watch; gone is the animated closing video. The animated opening is still there, and it's good fun, but it's much shorter and doesn't pack anywhere near the punch that the Beatles' did. The credits are possibly the longest thing in existence and you can't skip them.

There are some nice animation moments though: the Milton Keynes location has several songs in which lighting and stage effects are coordinated perfectly with the songs. It made the fourth set of the location incredibly fun to play - particularly since the songs they chose for it are Green Day classics.

The biggest gripe I had with the presentation was the complete lack of locations. Three stage sets are all you get, and while there are nice little touches of the performers changing their hair colour and gaining more tattoos between locations, it does feel like something's lacking, especially given the price tag.

Ultimately, the presentation is no worse, but not much better than the standard Rock Band 2 layout.

Game Play:

Before you start playing this game, calibrate all of your Rock Band instruments manually. Every single instrument - bar the microphone, was out by 20 - 40 ms, which makes a world of difference in songs as fast-paced as Green Day's are.

Additionally, be warned that the difficulties are somewhat unrepresentative. Compared to the Rock Band 2 difficulty ratings they are much harder; a 3/6 or 4/6 on Green Day Expert means you should probably be knocking it down to Hard until you get used to the pace. That said, if you can't five star 'Wake me up when September ends' or 'Warning' on Expert, go set your game back to Medium. Yes, it really is that easy.

Ultimately, this is Green Day. That means be prepared for:

  • A lot of strumming. The game does a good job of making it interesting, but there are songs where your arm will want to fall off from strumming forever. A lot of the difficulty ratings actually seem to be based on how much your arm will want to fall off.

  • Extra notes. In order to avoid the strumming the song conversions have added in a few extra notes that didn't exist in the songs before. 'Burnout' is a main offender for the Guitar; there are notes in painfully obvious pauses.

  • Completely useless harmonies. Yes, the harmonies feature introduced in the Beatles game has carried over into Green Day, which is great - in theory. If you just want to sing into a set of microphones with your friends then fine, but if you're looking for actual harmonies, remember what band you're singing along to. Green Day has a handful of songs in which anyone sings anything other than the main tune.

  • Adult language - except...

Harmonix has censored Green Day Rock Band to give it a 'teen friendly' rating. I'm sorry, what? They've censored a game which features a song called 'Fuck off and Die (F.O.D)'? It's only the word 'Fuck' that gets cut out of every song, mind you. 'Masturbation' is still okay, so they can't have been too serious about making it 'family friendly'. At the very least there should have been an option to turn the censorship off. Harmonix could conceivably link it to the XBOX Live accounts. If you're old enough to have a credit card, you're probably old enough to be hearing a few naughty words.

On the up side, for people who like collectibles and achievements, you'll be drowning in them. The achievements list alone goes on forever.

While as an addition to the Rock Band family, Green Day Rock Band is solid enough, it should probably go without saying that anyone who is not a fan of Green Day shouldn't really be purchasing this game. If you get it given to you by a well-meaning friend or relative, transfer the songs over to your Rock Band cache for about five pounds and treat it as DLC. If you do love Green Day, there should be enough here to keep you interested even as a standalone game.

Bits and Bobs:

They've changed the star noise - no your microwave isn't going off five times in one song, it just sounds like it. And can anybody tell me what the Morse code on the starting menu means?

Overall:

I was happy to hear that Green Day Rock Band was being released. Having finished the main track list at the point of writing this review, I'm still happy they made it. It's good, (forcibly) clean fun and a solid Rock Band game. It's just not worth paying forty or fifty quid for. Price it at twenty and we'll talk.

When graded against other Rock Band games: 7/10

When graded for purely what it is - a Green Day Rock Band game: 8.5/10