The game features the revived ECW brand, which takes its place alongside the established Raw and SmackDown! brands. The official box art features the ECW logo prominently. The game's ECW branding has expanded the number of weapons available under the ring during gameplay. New weapons such as guitars are available and tables can be set on fire. Despite the inclusion of the brand, the video game franchise will keep its SmackDown! vs. RAW name, although an early logo included "ECW Invasion" in the title.
The game allows several different game modes to be played, each with different goals and options. The season and general manager modes of previous games have been merged into the new "WWE 24/7" mode, which takes its name from WWE's video on demand service. Players can choose to play one of the game's included superstars, a created superstar or as a general manager of one of the brand. Playing as a wrestler, the goal is to take that wrestler and achieve "legend" status. In order to do so the player has to win matches, team with and feud with other wrestlers and gain popularity. At the same time they must choose whether to train, exercise, relax, or take part in other activities when not wrestling, all with their own positive and negative effects.
Playing as a general manager is similar to the previous General Manager modes in the series, in which one has to choose a brand and act as its General Manager (Jonathan Coachman for Raw, Theodore Long for SmackDown!, Tommy Dreamer for ECW), draft a roster and attempt to make decisions to make it the most popular brand of the three. The General Manager is allowed to hire/fire wrestlers, schedule workouts and events. There is also a all-new Tournament Mode which allows the player control a superstar through the various stages of a WWE tournament such as Beat The Clock Sprint and King of the Ring. This is featured only on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360. Like previous games in the series, the game also allows players to challenge for and defend championships. The game includes championships used by the WWE in 2007, bringing back the branded championships from the previous game and for the first time, the ECW Championship.
The game allows several match types to be played. This includes the Iron Man match; Battle Royal; Hell in a Cell; Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match; Hardcore; Ladder match; the Elimination Chamber; and Royal Rumble among others. However, none of these matches are on the Wii version, as was falsley advertised.
The game differs significantly depending on the platform it is played on. These differences are seen first and foremost in the Nintendo DS version of the game. It makes use of the handheld's touch screen feature to control the wrestlers' in-ring actions. This version also includes wireless multiplayer gameplay, as well as training minigames. However, the DS version features a roster of just 21 wrestlers and retains the Season mode of past games rather than receiving the 24/7 or Main Event modes being introduced to other systems.
The Xbox 360's hard drive is utilized to allow custom music to be used in the game as entrance music. and the PlayStation 3 version has a first-person view option during the wrestlers' entrances. The Wii version takes advantage of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, using the motion-sensing capabilities to pull off various attacks. For instance, punches and chops are performed by slashing the Wii Remote in different directions, while performing a move such as a powerbomb requires the player to lift the opponent by pulling the Wii Remote up and then thrusting it down to slam the opponent. It also includes Mii integration, both on menu screens of Main Event mode and on the HUD during game play.
In addition to exhibition matches and create-a-wrestler, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation versions have a 24/7 mode as its version of a season mode. However, the Nintendo Wii version has Main Event mode in place of 24/7 mode and does not contain a General Manager mode.
The Wii version only features 5 match types. These are, Single (One on One), Tag Team (Two on Two), K.O. Match, Triple Threat, and Hardcore. This version also has no WWE Shop and a severely decreased movelist compared to the other versions.