With Prince of Persia Sands of Time, I was strictly talking about the camera.
Im chopping up these games, and looking at their elements individually. Because unlike the rest of you guys I dont have one melee game (batman) that I think does everything perfectly.
With most games, I dont even get to the point of considering their combat. Because something basic and fundamental is so irksome, that I cant stand playing the game.
for example. It is a fine melee combat game. But the camera in that was very sensitive. You tap the camera thumbstick, and it swings 90 degrees (so now you cant even see your enemy). And there is no sensitivity adjustments in the options menu.
Plus, it tries to auto aim the camera, from time to time. So you'll be fighting a group of bad guys, and the camera decides this is a good time to swing around and look at a wall, or a patch of grass.
A perfectly decent (not great) melee combat game ruined by a non combat element. Other than the wacko camera, that was a game I could have gladly finished. Instead, I couldnt stand it for more than a couple hours.
Companies seem to give half hearted efforts, when it comes to melee games. Like Golden Axe, Death by Degrees, Eve of Extinction, 99 nights, Star Wars FU, Fairytale Fights, Conan, X-Blades, or Red Ninja. Every one of those games had positive ideas that could have worked, if they had not mucked up the fundamentals.
One game, where I liked the melee combat, Ico.
It wasnt a complex scheme of throws, holds, combos, or heavy and light attacks. There was one attack button. And no health bar. Thats all you needed. The stress came from the situation, not the combat's complexity.
Thats not a blueprint for other games. But it is an example of how games should interweave combat and other elements of the game. If you get all of the different elements of your game to mesh together, you dont need an amazing combat system.