Well done to Core Design for not opting for a more whimsical level name; Floating Islands is what it’s called and floating islands is what it is. Well, that and floating enemies, floating temples and floating random pieces of neon-green jade - in fact, pretty much the only thing that isn’t acting like it’s been injected with industrial-strength helium is Lara herself.
Marco Bartoli has beaten Lara to the Dagger of Xian, and has attempted to utilize its dragon-transforming abilities by stabbing himself in the heart. Refusing to give up just yet, Lara follows his body as Marco’s goons carry it away.
After all the thrills of the last level, starting out in Floating Islands seems strangely serene, probably because this is the first time in a while Lara has been able to stand still without incurring the wrath of various spike-laden implements.
Of course, all this serenity and peacefulness can’t last for long. Floating Islands is the level that introduces the flying warriors, massive tanks of men that each wield a sword the size of small boat. As if this wasn’t enough, they all seems to be sporting some kind of rocket-powered footwear (very ancient Chinese-y, I’m sure) and can take to the sky at will. It’s fairly easy to kill them in the air, because they move rather slowly, but a couple of times I didn’t notice them flying about and got a rather unpleasant surprise when they decided to use Lara as a runway strip.
Believe me, you don’t want one of these bad boys on the ground with you. Seriously, look at the size of that sword.
Once defeated, the warriors turn into statues and explode, which is a shame, because I wouldn’t have minded a pair of those flying boots.
Still, the flying warriors are like irritating little bats compared to their more numerous cousin, the spearmen. What they lack in flying skills they make up for – and then some – in almost every other aspect. They’re fast, strong and have a fondness for impaling Lara on their spears like she’s a marshmallow.
This is a pretty awesome site, when you come to it; a pretty little bridge in a picturesque setting that leads to a big temple that seems to be on fire.
Oh, hey, it’s a zip slide! Haven’t seen one of those for a while.
One pleasant moment inside the temple is when this curtain lifts to reveal three spearmen. Like they’re a prize or something.
I love this picture. M16 versus Spears!
Fire: a perfectly viable building material.
Eventually, the level gets bored of acting like there’s any chance it wants you to escape alive and plunges you into a room filled to bursting point with spearmen and a new breed of Bartoli’s henchmen, who can throw
cursors knives with deadly accuracy.
This happened far more frequently than I would want to admit. Note how Knife-Throwing Guy looks kind of upset about it.
Lara takes a moment to salute one of the knife-throwers as he’s blown to smithereens by one of her grenades.
She indulges another guard in a spirited game of peek-a-boo between rounds. Stop fraternizing with the enemy, Lara!
And that’s the end of Floating Island. We’re nearing the journey’s end now – just two teeny little levels to go.