|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Co.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
SmackDown vs. Raw is one of those franchises that is constantly innovating, and fans of both the WWE and sports games have had little chance to criticize it for not adding tons of new content every year. Although the 2011 iteration cannot hope to match 2010 in terms of innovation, it builds very successfully upon the formula that was laid out in that game and adds a new career mode, new Road to Wrestlemania stories, and of course, more of the signature creation elements that made last year's iteration such a success.
The biggest new feature in WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 is the WWE Universe mode. This mode replaces the career mode that was present in previous iterations. Although the career mode in prior games served its purpose well, it was a little basic and worked within a stoic template to bring you the same "rise to fame" experience no matter who you played it with. However, WWE Universe works a little differently. Instead of following a single wrestler's career, you can step into a GM role. You can set up matches, assign belts, determine rankings for your favorite wrestlers, and create your own storylines based on your actions as a GM. Of course, the world championship is the ultimate goal for any character, and if you want your favorite wrestler (either created or existing) to have a chance at the top, you'll have to fight for it and go through matches with increasingly-ranked contenders until he or she (there is Diva support) has a chance at the top. Or, of course, you could do it the easy way and just schedule a Money in the Bank match, which gives the winner an automatic shot at the top.
The WWE Universe mode really is immersive, and as you schedule, play, and sim matches, it is easy to get lost in the management element, which is almost as addictive as the gameplay itself. Although the direct approach employed by previous career modes might be missed by a few, the WWE Universe mode gives you ultimate control over your favorite characters and allows you to participate in the experience in a way you never had before. And unlike the career modes of old, the calendar in WWE Universe is endless, so if you don't want the story to end, it doesn't have to!
Although the WWE Universe Mode is certainly the biggest new feature of SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, there have also been some notable improvements to other facets of the game. The Road to Wrestlemania mode (which functions as the game's main "story" mode, for the uninitiated) has been changed quite a bit. There are five Road to Wrestlemania stories to choose from, and you can follow a WWE writer-penned story following John Cena, Christian, Rey Mysterio, or Chris Jericho. The fifth Road to Wrestlemania story is a special "vs. Undertaker" story that allows you to play as one of four WWE superstars or your own created superstar to end the Undertaker's winning streak at Wrestlemania.