What's the first 3D game to have auto orientating (i.e. soft lock on) melee combat?

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#1 Edited by Sweetz (1181 posts) -

Watching the Unifinished for for Rune II brought this on. I think Rune is not a particularly good game along with a lot of other 3rd person melee games from that era (American McGee's Alice, Heavy Metal FAKK2, even Jedi Knight). I realized that a lot of the reason why those games feel so bad is there's not any kind of lock on or system that basically directs the attacks towards an enemy. You're just sort of sliding around, wildly swinging, and hoping that the attack arc intersects an enemy. It looks bad, it feels bad.

I realize the main innovation that makes melee combat feel decent in a 3D game is lock on. Either hard lock on à la Dark Souls, or "soft" lock on that automatically directs your attack towards the nearest enemy à la Batman/Assassin's Creed. I know the first game with hard lock on, or at least the first notable one: Zelda Ocarina of Time. It's kind of funny that it seemingly took other developers almost a decade to learn that game's lessons put lock on in something with deeper melee combat systems.

However, I'm trying to think of what the first game with a "soft" lock on system was. I'm thinking maybe Devil May Cry? That game automatically directed your attacks towards the enemy right without you having to lock on, right - or am I misremembering?

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#2 Posted by liquiddragon (3526 posts) -

I played like an hour of The Bouncer maybe a month ago and that had soft lock and I don't want to believe The Bouncer invented it so I have to assume it's something before the PS2.

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#3 Posted by Phos (78 posts) -

The oldest one I can think of for melee is Power Stone and even then I’m a bit foggy on how many attacks actually had it. The first Fighting Force for PS1 might had had it but it’s been way to long since I’ve seen anything of that game.

Add ranged combat to that and I think Vortex, a Super FX game, had it in much of the same was as Goldeneye.

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#4 Posted by Neurogia (148 posts) -

Well, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time introduced Z-targeting. That was on the N64 back in '98.

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#5 Posted by MrGreenMan (230 posts) -

I was going to be that guy and say Bubsy 3D to just be an ass, but I believe Ocarina of Time is the correct answer here unless there are some obscure 3D Saturn game I'm forgetting that did it first.

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#8 Posted by cikame (2908 posts) -

I believe Ocarina of Time is the correct answer here...

That would be a hard lock, i don't remember it giving any locks when idle swinging.

The earliest i can think of at the moment is 1997's Fighting Force, pretty sure it helped guide your punches, it definitely gave you some auto lock for projectiles.

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#9 Posted by fasterblaster (16 posts) -

Tomb Raider had soft lock for firing at targets. So long as they were somewhat in front of Lara, she would twist her body and arms to shoot at moving targets.

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#10 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7649 posts) -

As for soft-lock, I think it is Resident Evil (1996)? It certainly was not Alone in the Dark or Fade to Black, both of those didn't help one bit for aiming...they were royal bitches to play.

Doom(1983) was the first game where there were stacked levels. If an enemy was in front of you; but one level up, you would shoot one level up automatically - is that a hard lock.

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#11 Posted by fasterblaster (16 posts) -

@monkeyking1969: hm, yeah that might be it. The character will aim towards the crows, right?