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Assault: Retribution

Company: Midway


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 15, 1999

Ah, violence in a video game. It started well before Mortal Kombat, and we are all pretty desensitized to the phenomenon. But that doesn't mean it can't be presented in a fun way, even if from the outside it seems excessive.

Assault: Retribution is really no more than a quasi-3-D, 32-bit version of Konami's classic shoot-'em-up Contra. So the concept is nothing to shout about. The fact that it comes off amazingly well when so many others have failed is what makes this game special.

Retribution won't cramp your brain with a lot of pesky puzzles and adventure. It is simply you or you and a friend against an endless swarm of alien insects and mutants. Basically, you get to be Rambo (or Ramba), blessed with tons of futuristic firepower, including shock guns, heat-seeking rockets and smart bombs.

So far, Retribution is a carbon copy of the Bruce Willis game Apocalypse. What makes Retribution work and Apocalypse a lackluster rental are the touches that made Contra so fun. First, the graphics are a colorful representation of the future as opposed to the burned-out one in Apocalypse. There are also some great intermissions that put players in the middle of this intergalactic war.

Then there are the computer-generated battles with some huge and wily foes. Throw in a few novelty levels such as the hover bikes and monorail, and you have the video game equivalent of an exciting, albeit mindless, action movie.

Retribution's controls won't frustrate players, who can use shadows and take-off points to aid jumping, and can lock in a single direction, shooting all the way. The ability to adjust the angle of your weapon takes a little getting used to, but is a nice touch nonetheless.

Perhaps the only fault of Retribution is the ephemeral thrill it provides, taking a mere three hours or so to beat on the normal setting. But the sheer fun of wiping out the enemy and the promise of hidden routes make it a must-rent, and the most perfect attempt at a PSX Contra yet seen.

Grade: B+

Company: Midway

Suggested price: $39.99

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