WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 is truly the first WWE videogame that will adapt to your actions. Through this brand new addition to the franchise, every time you play a match, gameplay scenario will change based on your decisions, allowing for new rivalries, alliances, championship matches, run-ins, rankings and more spontaneous WWE action both in and out of the ring.

The biggest change is WWE Universe. Basically, this shoves everything you do in exhibition, all of the championships, all of the stables and rivalries system, and whatever else into one mode that's always active. When WWE Universe is on, it's going to give you an event – Raw, Superstars, SmackDown or a pay-per-view – and an event card. This isn't generated at random. This is a card based on the feuds and friendships that exist on your system as well as rankings. Now, if you don't like the matches, you're free to change them however you like – different people, different stipulations, etc. – and the game will react, remember, and craft the story around it.

It's career mode without having a career mode. It's a constant WWE at your fingertips where you can pull the strings (you still get to choose who are champs as well as who are friends and who are rivals if you want). If you don't like the look of a particular card, you can change it or sim past it to the next show, which leads into the next event, which leads into the PPV, and so on. When this is happening, the folks in the federation are building friendships and creating enemies. The game notices this and modifies the WWE relationships, and this then leads to one of 100 random cutscenes before, during and after your matches. This is stuff like your foe attacking you during your entrance, a match changing on the fly, and so on.

All of this actually matters, as well. There's a ranking system in WWE Universe that shows where certain Superstars stand in the federation. As you play – and keep in mind, you can play as whomever you want or as many people as you want – your character or characters start to move in the rankings and vie for number one contender spots and championships. You need to earn your ticket to the top… or at least jump in and edit it so that you're the champ.


And, even sweeter for marks out there, when one of the entrances got interrupted, it led up to a brawl outside the ring and it wasn't over until the players (or the AI) made their way into the the ring that the ref waved his arms and rang the bell to officially begin the match. Similarly, the Universe remembers who is Mr. Money in the Bank, and when you click on a title match, it asks if you want to cash in the briefcase and run out. Also, the announcers actually pick up on what’s happening in the Universe. For example they made mention of Drew McIntyre being Raw’s latest acquisition, they commented on rematches, they even made things feel more real by having the announcers say that “We’re just 24 hours removed from [Insert PPV Name Here]!”. It all feels so real, it’s really amazing. Minor touches like that are where SVR 11 wins your heart.

WWE Universe is the career mode of WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011. If you don't like it and you just want the traditional exhibition matches without the suggestions and presentation, you can turn the mode off by clicking the thumbstick at the main menu.

But there's no reason why you'd want to turn it off, it looks awesome. Just watching some of the things that could be done in WWE Universe left speechless, in reality this is what GM Mode should have been all those years ago. Now we have WWE Universe and people clamoring for a return of GM Mode will never even think about that mode again.

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