A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shadow of the Tomb Raider is a third-person action/adventure game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. Using a bow and arrow, guns, knives, and a pickax, players kill both animals and human enemies, often resulting in bloodshed and graphic imagery. Players can also kill enemies from behind in rather brutal fashion, while also dying in gruesome ways that include being impaled on a spike or dropping to their death. Our hero has a number of different outfits she can wear, but none are especially revealing. She's also not as well-endowed as she was in previous games, though you can unlock playable versions of her earlier incarnations, which do feature exaggerated proportions. Lara ingests mushrooms and other herbs to restore her health or give her better vision and other augmentations. Downloadable content (DLC) has been announced for the game to expand on Lara's adventures, though it's not currently available.
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What's it about?
The third game in the prequel trilogy SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER shows the final step of how a young Lara Croft became the feisty and resourceful adventurer we know and love. Before she can become this iconic explorer, she must take down Trinity, the secret organization that's been chasing her steps from the start of the prequels as she hunts hidden artifacts. Lara's adventure will take her from Mexico to Peru as she explores tombs and environments. Along the way, she'll help local residents uncover ruins and customize her expanding arsenal of weapons with resources she scavenges from the environment or purchases from merchants. She can also improve her abilities thanks to a robust skill tree, which can do things like make her stealthier or a more accurate shooter, or improve her swimming speed. Can Lara prevent Trinity from acquiring a mystical artifact that could potentially destroy the entire world?
Is it any good?
Armed with the survival skills she learned and honed in her previous games, Lara Croft here does what she has to survive, and save the world, in this stunning end to her prequel trilogy. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara travels to Peru, where she once again has to climb up rocky cliffs to explore dark caves and catacombs where ancient people built tombs and other intricate structures. She'll fight off numerous bad guys with a wide variety of weapons, including her trusty bow and arrow, firearms, or explosives. Along the way, Lara will scrounge around for resources and supplies, solve situational puzzles that unlock new areas of the world, and generally have the kind of adventure Indiana Jones would have if someone made a third-person adventure game about his younger days.
But while Shadow of the Tomb Raider works as well as the previous two installments, and shares their smooth, intuitive controls, this sequel also gives our hero new things to do. The tombs she raids are bigger and more elaborate puzzle set pieces. These are slightly easier to explore thanks to her new grappling hook and her recent swimming lessons, allowing her to dive into underwater caves and lakes to collect sunken treasure. She also visits some villages, including a rather large one, where she can pick up some side work or go shopping for supplies. Lara's also a lot sneakier than before, and doesn't just take out unsuspecting enemies from behind. This time, she can cover herself in mud to escape detection, and can also hide in bushes or up in trees to make stealthy attacks on targets. Sure, the game may have some of the same minor issues as the prior two games -- such as lacking the elaborate acrobatics that were the highlight of earlier games in the storied franchise -- but Shadow of the Tomb Raider is still an effortlessly exhilarating end to this saga, and easily one of the best games of the year.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Shadow of the Tomb Raider affected by how realistic the blood and gore seem to be? Would the impact be lessened if the visuals weren't so lifelike?
What makes you persevere in the face of overwhelming odds? Could you take something from how Lara faces the odds in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and apply it to your real life?
- Platforms: Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: September 14, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: January 4, 2021
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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.