Fans of Contra would be happy with this game only because the real Contra games on PlayStation have been less than stellar. Assault Retribution is the definition of that annoying buzz word, "twitch gaming." It's a mindless shoot-em-up that is rife with control problems, boring enemies, cheap deaths and far too easy difficulty. Unfortunately the cons of this game, weigh down the entire package.
The 3D action shoot-em-up just hasn't been faring too well during the Next Generation. The Contra games, Apocalypse, One and now Assault Retribution have all fallen shy of their intended mark. Taking a genre that worked so well in 2D and upgrading it to 3D leaves the programmers with all sorts of 3D specific problems to solve; collision detection and movement being the most important to gameplay. Those factors seem to take all the attention, leaving other aspects of the game undeveloped. It's not only the control that brings Assault down, it's also the unoriginality of it all.
The first thing you notice about AR is the poor enemy AI. You can't help but notice. These alien beings get stuck in corners! Real super-intelligent beings you got there. As well, the enemies are taken right from an Alien game. You won't believe it. If there isn't a lawsuit, there should be. The bosses are fairly unoriginal as well and look like Contra rejects.
The weapon upgrades are the shining point of the game. Some weapons look great and do actually too much damage, which makes the game ridiculously easy. Your weapon can be powered up to incredible strengths, thanks to powerups conveniently located in vehicles and crates left around. The explosions are plentiful and good looking although they can cause some wicked slow down.
Controlling your character is easy. Controlling your weapon is not. The R buttons act as an aiming up and down function. Sometimes you'll have enemies crawling on the floor while others need to be shot at waist level. Good luck trying to get that working. What a nightmare, luckily it doesn't happen too often. When you actually do die, you'll be transported back right to where you died, which is a product of a two player simultaneous game. This helps to make the game incredibly easy. I played the entire game in one sitting, on default difficulty and used only 2 continues.
Although there are things to like about AR, they aren't really anything to make you that excited. The vibration feature is done well with the powered up weapons, but that's hardly going to send you into a frenzy down to your local EB to buy the game.
Final Thought: If you are really hard up for a 3D shoot-em-up, try One (by ASC games). AR does out-contra Contra, but in the end that may be enough to satisfy only the most die-hard Contra fan. If you want to play the best Contra game, dig out your SNES and play Alien Wars. If you are going to play this game, then a rental is a must.