A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lara Croft GO is a downloadable turn-based puzzle and action game. She uses pistols and a spear to attack magical snakes, lizards, and spiders. There's no blood or gore, and defeated enemies simply collapse or disappear. The action is set on a three-dimensional game board and pauses after each turn, giving players a chance to strategize and plan out complex sets of moves necessary to solve navigation puzzles. Though she doesn't speak, Lara Croft comes off as calm, intelligent, and very capable -- a strong and thoughtful action heroine. While the puzzles gradually grow extremely challenging, kids can avoid frustration through a generous hint system.
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What's it about?
LARA CROFT GO is a cross-buy PlayStation game -- meaning that one purchase will let you play it on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita -- with controls revamped for a gamepad and a bit of extra content. The turn-based puzzle action unfolds within 3D game board-style environments. In an attempt to reach each level's exit, players move Lara one space at a time. This will include throwing switches, pushing pillars, and avoiding or attacking creatures along the way. Players need to experiment and plan ahead to work out how to lure her enemies to walk on pressure plates, on cracked floor panels, and in front of arrow traps and rolling boulders at just the right time. Hidden urns can be clicked on to reveal collectible gems and pieces of ancient relics. This version of the game contains all 40 or so original story levels, a series of bonus levels released as DLC for the mobile edition, and a brand-new mini-story in which Lara explores an alternate reality within her famed manor.
Is it any good?
Fans of the original mobile strategy game will immediately notice the changes that were needed to help the transition from phone to console. Lara Croft GO's gamepad interface makes controlling her diagonal movements across the board a bit trickier than an intuitive touchscreen swipe. Collecting items from hidden urns requires moving a cursor with the right thumbstick rather than a simple tap. Plus, players need to use two-button combinations to move pillars and pull chain switches instead of simply tapping an arrow. None of this is particularly problematic; it just feels a bit less natural than it did on a phone or tablet.
The rest of the experience has been faithfully ported. The puzzles are just as challenging as ever, but now frustrated players can freely call upon an unlimited supply of free hints that will walk them through the game's trickiest tasks step by step (these hints needed to be purchased in the mobile edition). And the new set of levels in Lara's manor offers a nice bonus for returning players, introducing some clever new mechanics -- including pillars that emit event-triggering light beams, plus a handful of levels that involve a mirror version of Lara. This forces players to control two characters at the same time in some of these later stages. The additions come with enough depth that could easily have formed the foundation for a proper sequel. Let's not forget: Playing the PlayStation edition means you can earn some quick trophies. If you missed this great puzzler on phone and tablet, now's your chance to see why it was one of the best mobile games of 2015.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sex, gender, and body image in games. Lara Croft GO presents its heroine in a non-sexualized fashion -- which hasn't always been the case in Tomb Raider games. Do you think this incarnation of Lara Croft is a good role model for girls?
Talk about using brains rather than brawn to solve problems. Have you ever been flummoxed by a physical problem -- such as, say, moving a heavy object -- that you were eventually able to solve using your mind rather than your muscles?
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