Harmonix’s Chris Foster, in London for EA’s showcase event last week to assist in promoting the release of the imminent Rock Band: Green Day, steps up to the microphone with a burst of jet-lagged swagger. Greeting the room’s gaming press with a few pleasantries, he carries on to describe his latest project, before stepping away from the mic mere seconds later. “So, it’s Rock Band. With Green Day. Thanks for coming…”
This wisecrack elicits an enormous laugh from the assembled press, but you can see his point. Absolutely everyone who plays videogames knows exactly what Rock Band is, and more so perhaps than any other game due to be released this year (the new FIFA and Call Of Duty titles excepted) irrespective of the critical reception or the price point, most gamers already know whether or not they plan on investing in Rock Band: Green Day. Thankfully Foster continues, and dishes up a series of enticing reveals about the package as a whole.
Against all odds, including the perceived exhaustion of the peripheral-based music game format, last year’s Rock Band: Beatles turned out to be an absolutely wonderful videogame, and the attentive care lavished on that title has quite clearly also been bequeathed to this one. Even if you weren’t a fan of the Beatles’ music, the amazing production values of that game, coupled with some fascinating archive material and a hugely enjoyable new gameplay addition in vocal harmonies, all acted in service of the band’s peerless heritage, and there was an abundance of evidence to suggest that it was a project borne of fawning and infectious love.
And Rock Band: Green Day is looking every bit as appealing. The sidelines of the game are once again lavished with some truly terrific archive material, much of which has never been seen before. One particular image, featuring the band posing as tasteful corpses in a mocked-up crime scene, has (despite the truly minuscule amount of claret) resulted in the ESRB flagging it up and awarding the game a “Blood” rating – a series first. In addition to photographs and video (spanning the band’s entire career) the visual assets from the current 21st Century Breakdown tour will also be utilised in full, alongside songs from the relevant setlist.
Whilst Harmonix and MTV Games clearly saw Rock Band: Beatles as a chance to educate people on the legacy of history’s most popular and respected rock group, Foster explains that both companies saw Green Day as the perfect fit for the Rock Band format, and they weren’t wrong. Aside from perpetual demand for the band’s back catalogue (Dookie was apparently Rock Band fans’ most frequently requested piece of DLC) most of Rock Band’s core demographic grew up with the band, and Green Day’s patented combination of melody and brevity arguably makes for perhaps the ideal franchise experience.
Needless to say, all (Rock Band and Guitar Hero) instruments that are currently on the market are fully compatible, and unlike Rock Band: Beatles, the entire setlist can be imported (in its entirety) into Rock Band and/or Rock Band 2. Our brief playtest revealed the experience to be just as delectable as ever, and whether you plan on rinsing the disc for extra content or just want to add to your current track set, Rock Band: Green Day is looking like an unmissable opportunity to wield those plastic axes once more.
Watch the Rock Band: Green Day trailer here…