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Green Day Rock Band Review

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Wanna be an American Idiot?

★★★★

How do you follow the greatest band in the world? After the titanic success of Beatles Rock Band, that was the question facing Harmonix, the creators of the Rock Band franchise. Not all bands, obviously, are as famous or ubiquitous, as the Fab Four, whose songs are well-known even to those who have an active hate of all things Johnpaulgeorgeringo, but it’s interesting to note that Harmonix hasn’t plumped for a mega-band, a U2 or Coldplay or a Foo Fighters, for their next trick, but instead have chosen Green Day.

In a way, it’s a deliberate and commendable return to the game’s rock roots, but it’s hard to see Green Day Rock Band, as enjoyable as it is, emulating the success of its direct predecessor. The power-punk trio are one of the world’s biggest, and most enduring, bands, but they’re also virtually the dictionary definition of an acquired taste. If you don’t have a soft spot for their spit-flecked energetic early days, or if you don’t think that American Idiot, with its magnificent, operatic, nine-minute Who-inspired Jesus Of Suburbia, is something akin to a masterpiece, then there’s going to be nothing for you here. There’s nothing here, with the possible exception of Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) or Boulevard Of Broken Dreams that casual fans will be able to sing, much less bash a colour co-ordinated drum kit to. Not even the introduction of a couple of little tweaks – like ‘cred’ awarded to you for achieving three or five star songs during Career Mode – will be enough to lure the uninitiated.

For Green Day fans, though, this is manna from heaven, allowing you to recreate some of the band’s signature gigs (although the Milton Keynes Bowl, scene of a triumph back in 2005, here looks like a dingy club), and play songs from the early days right up to their most recent album, 21st Century Breakdown. And, while it may come as no surprise to learn that Tré Cool’s drum fills are monstrously difficult to nail, or that Mike Dirnt is responsible for some bitching basslines, or that Billie Joe Armstrong’s riffs are complex enough to give your little finger a workout on the blue and orange fret buttons, but there’s real pleasure to be had from discovering that Armstrong’s vocals aren’t as easy to nail as you might have first thought. Boy’s got range.

Oh, and re: the star rating. Add one if you’re a Green Day fan. Subtract one if you’re not.

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