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SoulCalibur's brilliance is not due to any particularly innovative features--it could legitimately be described as simply Tekken with weapons. It's just that it does everything with more panache and imagination than the rest. Instead of awkward, staccato moves, SoulCalibur offers gloriously flowing, instinctive combos that often leaves you gasping at your own character's athleticism.
Of course beat-'em-ups aren't known for their innovation and SoulCalibur II doesn't really deviate too far from its original premise of 16th century men and women hitting each other with a variety of swords, sticks and other meleé weapons. The whole tactical nature of the battles has been altered, though, to create a deeper game with blocks and counters now far more important and the glorious new animation system able to adapt each move depending on the direction and speed you're moving in.
One point of true innovation in the original game was its unusually complex and rewarding single-player mode and this has been expanded for the sequel as you compete under a variety of different conditions to earn money and buy new weapons, costumes and extras. --David Jenkins