Violence: The Tomb Raider games all involve some degree of violence, usually shooting. Lara faces off against lots of enemies, sometimes human, sometimes supernatural or animal. She uses a variety of weapons—traditionally guns, but sometimes melee weapons like spears—or, more creatively, she will turn the environment against her foes. Traditionally the violence in Tomb Raider games is appropriate for teenagers—the remake of the original Tomb Raider, for example, has no blood. But the most recent Tomb Raider game received an M rating for graphic violence and gore.
Scary Imagery: In older Tomb Raider games there are some jump scares, and there are often bodies lying around—though not in a gory state. The latest Tomb Raider game takes things up a notch, with a river of blood, body parts strewn all over the ground, and Lara in an isolated and increasingly desperate situation, fighting for her life.
Sexual Content: Tomb Raider is famous for Lara Croft’s voluptuous figure, and for camera angles that swing around at opportune times to catch close-ups of her chest or rear. In the newest game this is no longer an issue—Lara has been reimagined with a realistic body, and the camera doesn’t objectify her. In one scene, an enemy touches her waist suggestively, but there is no further sexual action.
Strong Language: The latest Tomb Raider contains strong adult language, which is used throughout the game. Older Tomb Raider games only include minor cursing, like “damn” and “hell.”
Substance Use: There is a brief mention of cigarettes in the newest Tomb Raider game.
Nudity and Costuming: In older games, Lara wears a tight tank top and short shorts. The new game has, again, changed things considerably. Lara has a realistic body and isn’t sexualized by her clothing.
Player Interaction: The latest Tomb Raider game offers multiplayer, so parents should be cautious about how kids interact with others online.
Along the way she explores lots of tombs—the games have heavy platformer elements, with Lara needing to climb and run and jump to reach her goals.
From 1996 to 2003, Core Design released a Tomb Raider game every year before finally laying the franchise to rest after declining ratings. The series was rebooted for the first time in 2006 by Crystal Dynamics, which received a lot of praise for bringing the First Lady of Video Games back to the screen. Crystal Dynamics made a trilogy of Tomb Raider games, including a remake of the original Tomb Raider, now titled Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Along with Tomb Raider: Legend and Tomb Raider: Underworld, the trilogy wove the story of Lara’s broken family into the fight against Lara’s nemeses who want to control magical artifacts for themselves.
Tomb Raider: Legend pitted Lara against an old school friend, Amanda Evert, who holds a grudge against her and, as Lara finds out, was involved in the disappearance of Lara’s mother years before. Tomb Raider: Underworld picks up right where Legend left off, and reintroduces arch-nemesis Jacqueline Natla, the aforementioned Atlantean ruler and primary villain of Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
In 2010 a new Tomb Raider game, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, was released. It featured Lara teaming up with an ancient Mayan warrior to stop darkness from taking over the world. The game was well received but didn’t become the series that Crystal Dynamics had planned.
However, the decision to reboot the franchise again had already been made—this time starting from before Lara became the strong, skilled explorer that fans were familiar with.
Lara goes through hell trying to survive on the island, find help, and rescue her friends from the Solarii. The player sees her grow from a vulnerable character into a hardened survivor. Lara goes through the usual puzzles, tombs, and obstacles—while also brutalizing a lot of Solarii who want to hurt her. It’s definitely a violent experience, but it’s a meaningful one in a world where women are often painted as victims. Lara is in a position where she could become a victim, but she claws her way to a position where she is the one that the Solarii are frightened of.
The latest Tomb Raider reinforces themes of strength, growth, and loyalty. It is extremely violent, but it has a story to tell and a stellar female protagonist.
In one interview, studio manager Darrell Gallagher implied that there was a rape scene in Tomb Raider; many people objected to this, leading the studio to release a statement saying that sexual assault was not part of the game. In the end it was revealed that Gallagher had misspoken. The scene in question is extremely violent, but there is no point at which Lara is sexually assaulted
- Lara Croft goes through a lot of struggles and failures in the 2013 Tomb Raider. Does her struggle make you empathize more with her? Do you feel like she gains strength from failure?
- Lara has a strong friendship with her female friend Sam Nishimura. Do you often see friendships like this represented in media? Does Sam and Lara’s friendship improve the story?
- The 2013 Tomb Raider is incredibly violent. What does that do for the story? Do you feel that that level of gore helps or hinders the game?
- If you’ve played any other Tomb Raider games, does Lara’s makeover (smaller chest, less revealing clothing, younger age) change what you feel about the character?
- Tomb Raider is a lot more realistic-looking than its predecessors. It’s also a lot bloodier. Do you think that level of blood is realistic? Should games with lots of killing have lots of blood just to be realistic?