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WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2011 Review

By Tracey Washington
On November 9, 2010

For a sport that has had its popularity wane in recent years, World Wrestling Entertainment's games have always sold extremely well, and why not? The digitalization of wrestling's dramatic matches and storylines draw crowds and copies steadily fly off the shelves. With this year's iteration, "WWE Smackdown vs RAW" improves on last year's major changes and adds some of its own.

The Superstar controls have more or less stayed the same, as previous iterations of the series. The major difference is the switch of controls between the pick-up grapple and the pin commands. If you're new to the "Smackdown vs RAW" series, you probably won't notice a thing. However, if you've played previous versions, then you might accidently pin your opponent prematurely, instead of trying to pick him up.

A major change that started with last year's game was the replacement of season mode with the "Road to Wrestlemania". In previous games, there would be a standardized season mode, where you could choose any "WWE Superstar" and have him go through the same storyline. In "Road to Wrestlemania" mode, there are several different, detailed storylines made for specific WWE Superstars. In this update, the storylines are more detailed and have better writing. Also, there's the inclusion of backstage area that your Superstar can explore freely before competing in a match. There are some fun moments exploring backstage, as you can start fights with other Superstars or you can eavesdrop on their quirky (possibly romantic in one) conversations. This mode, however, would be a lot more charming if the camera didn't try to work against you. It's not fun trying to see what's ahead of you when John Cena's giant orange t-shirt takes up half of the screen.

While improving on some aspects, the game also introduces new things too. In the WWE "Universe" mode, rivalries, alliances, number one contenders and even champions are decided just by playing matches. In-match cut scenes and wrestler interferences are also determined by what goes on in your own universe.

As usual, the "Smackdown vs RAW" series is wealthy when it comes to online game play. Almost all of the single player matches are available for online play. A newcomer to that already extensive list is "Online Royal Rumble". The in-game single player "Royal Rumble" is a match where anywhere from 15-30 players are in the middle of the ring and trying to eliminate each other by throwing them over the top rope. However, the "Online Royal Rumble" only supports up to 15 players, but it's still a fun experience, if everyone has a decent internet connection.

Custom creations in the game have always been a fan favorite and in last year's game, the concept jumped forward several times with the introduction of both "Create a Storyline" (a mode where players can create stories and matches for either pre-existing WWE Superstars or custom-made ones) and "Community Creations" (a menu that allows users to both download and upload custom-made content). Community Creations gets a practical makeover for 2011, allowing the user to sift through content much easier.

Over all, "Smackdown vs RAW 2011" isn't exactly a "run to the store and buy right now" kind of game due to the fact that it polishes up existing things, rather than adding new features, but if you're a wrestling fan and have $60 to throw around, it definitely won't disappoint and like other "Smackdown vs RAW" titles, you'll be finding yourself distracted for weeks, or months, on end.

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