A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Social Studies: exploration, history
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: problem solving, solving puzzles, strategy
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: March 5, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
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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.