A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rise of the Tomb Raider is the latest adventure title starring Lara Croft. This game is packed with violence, blood, and gore throughout. Though it's mostly in self-defense, Lara kills many humans, animals, and supernatural forces with guns, bombs, knives, a bow and arrow, and more. Though she can inflict some serious damage on enemies, she can also receive some brutal injuries and succumb to shocking death scenes. The game also has strong profanity, with "f--k," "s--t," and other words uttered by Lara during play and in cut scenes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
RISE OF THE TOMB RAIDER: 20 YEAR EDITION is a prequel that follows the iconic adventurer Lara Croft in her first tomb-raiding expedition. Played from a third-person perspective, Lara is in search of an ancient artifact that's said to hold the secret of immortality -- and through exploration, combat, and puzzle solving, she might just find what she’s after and walk away unscathed. Even more so than its predecessors, the single-player Rise of the Tomb Raider features a very strong story, cinematic sequences woven into the gameplay, platforming elements, and a clever crafting system. TheRise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration edition added a lot more content. This included a new story chapter entitled “Blood Ties”, “Lara’s Nightmare” zombie combat mode, PlayStation VR support for “Blood Ties” (PS4 only), cooperative ("co-op") Endurance gameplay, an “Extreme Survivor” difficulty, and 5 classic Lara Croft skins. It also included all of the previously released downloadable content (DLC), including “Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch," “Cold Darkness Awakened," along with 12 outfits, 7 weapons, multiple Expedition Card packs, and more.
Is it any good?
This adventure is one of the most engaging, atmospheric, and action-packed games worth paying for -- or dropping hints about to family members who are unsure of what to buy you for the holidays. This is further expanded thanks to all of the extra content you get in this title, although parents should take heed of the intense violence, blood, gore, and more. As with previous Tomb Raider games in the nearly 20-year-old series, Lara has a number of moves to help her navigate treacherous caverns, caves, and cliffs, but the gameplay is near photo-realistic, both in characters and environments, with huge set pieces to play in. Seriously, the graphics are amazing. Advanced lighting and a Hollywood-like score add to the cinematic feel as you explore, find items, hunt for food and other resources, use weapons to take down numerous threats, and solve some location-based puzzles in tombs and catacombs to push forward. Finding new gear is a thrill, as is modifying your weapons. This helps you customize the action to play how you like, whether it's adding extra arrows to your bow or more ammo to your shotgun. You can run into new areas like wildfire or choose to be stealthier. Your call.
Without giving anything away, the prequel story is well-written, well-acted, and doesn't feel like an afterthought or a way to justify the gameplay. There are many cinematic sequences where you can put your controller down for a bit and watch the situation unfold, but it doesn't detract or distract from the gameplay. Pacing is good, too. Along with the main mission, there are many side quests you can accept, along with secret areas that reward you for discovery -- both of which adds to the game's replayability. A word on the VR add-on in the Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration edition: it's great. The "Blood Ties" mission is a more of a narrative, exploratory experience than an action game, but has Lara navigating around a mansion to look for clues and unravel a mystery. She'll sift through notes, documents, photos and such, in this atmospheric adventure. The virtual reality effect works well and sounds good, too. Combined with the multiplayer modes, this game has it all, and is a "must-own" for players over 17 who like action-heavy adventures.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider. Why did Crystal Dynamics, the developer of these games, move toward more violence and blood? Does it need it? Does limiting their audience pay off because the developer has the creative freedom to take this series where they want?
Talk about body image. Does Lara project unrealistic body-image goals for young girls and set standards for young boys? Does it help that Lara is proportioned more realistically in this game than in previous Tomb Raider games?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Microsoft Studios
- Release date: October 11, 2016
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: January 31, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.