Tomb Raider

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Tomb Raider Game Poster Image
M-rated reboot of usually T-rated series is super violent.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 45 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

While elements of Tomb Raider focus on puzzle solving and strategy, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.

Positive Messages

This surprisingly emotional adventure presents two primary themes: bravery in the face of danger, and belief in oneself. However, the game also sensationalizes brutal, graphic combat, making Lara seem cool for her ability to dispatch cultist lunatics by the dozen with style but tons of gore.   

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lara Croft is a believable character who expresses fear, doubt, regret, courage, loyalty, and tenacity. She uses her intellect to solve puzzles, save her friends, and figure out tactics. She's an adventurous young woman, but unfortunately she resorts to extreme violence to solve her problems.

Ease of Play

Fans of third-person action games should be right at home with the controls, which are intuitive and responsive. In-game tutorials and on-screen button cues let you learn while playing. Action scenes are fairly forgiving, and contextual puzzles are never too tough. A special vision mode offers clues to important parts of the environment, and characters provide verbal hints regarding what must be done if the player is stuck or inactive for a couple of minutes.

Violence

This is easily the most violent Tomb Raider game ever made. Players spend much of the game engaged in firefights using either a pistol, shotgun, rifle, or bow and arrow. Stealth kills show enemies being choked by the string of a bow, and finishing moves involve vicious chops with a climbing ax or point-blank shots with various weapons, with blood gushing from wounds. Hundreds of tortured dead bodies and body parts litter the island, hanging from structures and tied up against posts. One chapter begins with Lara emerging from a pool of blood and body parts, and she remains covered in crimson for several minutes. We also see Lara badly injured multiple times. She moans in pain and is forced to tend to her own injuries, muffling screams while doing so.

Sex

Lara wears revealing clothes, including low-cut tops and tight pants or shorts.

Language

Coarse language in moderate frequency, including instances of "f--k" and "s--t."

Consumerism

This game is part of the popular Tomb Raider series, which has produced not only games but also movies, comics, and collectibles.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lara mentions cigarettes while wondering about the purpose of a relic she discovers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Mature-rated Tomb Raider -- a reboot of the iconic action/adventure series -- is much more graphic and violent than its predecessors, all of which were rated Teen by the ESRB. Lara Croft engages in the brutal killing of terrifyingly aggressive cultist men using a variety of melee and ranged weapons. She also executes some extremely bloody and visceral finishing moves that see the camera swing around to frame the action for maximum effect. She is at one point literally covered from toe to crown in dark red blood. The mood is all the more chilling because Lara herself is not immune to injury. She screams out in pain, has to talk herself into performing courageous acts, and must frequently bandage herself up. It may feature the youngest, most believably emotional and human Lara Croft we've ever seen, but it's certainly not for kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byFatherofThreeSons March 14, 2013

Excellent game. Great story, great characters, great gameplay, horrible dialogue.

Tomb Raider is a great game. Great story, great character development, and great gameplay. The game is violent and the language is over-the-top. I read this rev... Continue reading
Adult Written byFeliciaJohnson March 8, 2013

Lara Croft - A Good Role Model

A voilent game with a little cursing and blood. Teaches kids a few things about survival, and presents the gamers with a positive role model. Lara Croft shows t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCJ69 March 8, 2013

Sick

Great game. Croft is boss. Good for kids 12-13. Lara Croft is on a desert island full of evil dudes who are part of a cult and she needs to find her way back h... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJester™ April 9, 2013

Excellent Reboot contains Graphic Violence and Strong Language

The 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise is an excellent story-driven game. The combat is intense, portraying gritty realism in a lot of kills, e.g. blastin... Continue reading

What's it about?

You've never seen Lara Croft like this. TOMB RAIDER -- a full-on reboot of Eidos' 18-year-old action/adventure series -- sees the iconic game heroine just starting out. Fresh from college, she's on a ship with friends and colleagues heading toward a mysterious island rumored to be loaded with ancient Japanese history and treasure. But things don't go according to plan. A storm smashes the ship to pieces, scattering Lara and the crew on the shores of the atoll. She soon finds herself confronted by seemingly crazed and nearly wild men -- survivors of other wrecks -- who believe the island is under the control of the spirit of a long-dead Japanese queen. Lara, shivering, hungry, and hurt, must gather the courage to fight the cultists, save her friends, and discover the root of the island's strange power.

Is it any good?

This decidedly mature adventure gives players a character they can get to know, admire, and respect. Lara is no fighter at the start of the game, but she is a survivor. Alone and afraid, she frequently talks to herself, coaxing up the strength to find food or climb a steep cliff. And, although she's visibly terrified when first attacked and repelled by the thought of having killed someone, she gradually becomes braver and more confident as the game progresses, making her one of the most dynamic and compelling game characters we've ever seen.

The game's action is a match for the narrative. Tight and intuitive controls combine with a cinematic camera to make navigating the lush, beautifully rendered island an addictive pleasure. Firefights, meanwhile, are helped by a covering system that has Lara naturally and automatically hiding behind rocks and walls exactly when she needs to. It's a brilliant system that will surely be mimicked by other developers. Simply put, Tomb Raider is one of the best action/adventure games to come along in years.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the depiction of women in games. What sorts of traits do you think game makers usually get right? Which ones do they tend to get wrong? How would you change the way women and girls are presented in games?

  • Families also can discuss the impact of violence in media. How do you feel after playing a particularly violent game?

  • Do you think violence can only be used for sensational purposes in games, or can it have deeper narrative meaning?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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