Spike-pits. Sliding. Spiders (Giant). All this and then another hundred thousand buckets full of this can be found in the Temple of Xian, a level concerned with exploring the titular temple and its surrounding area. The level picks up where its locational predecessor The Great Wall left off, randomly plunging Lara into lengthy gauntlets of spiked walls, rolling spikes, spikey swinging bags and anything else that could feasibly have a spike glued to it.
Any rare moment when Lara is not impaled on some macabre instrument of death can be spent admiring the surroundings, which are, for the most part, absolutely stunning; huge waterfalls, intricate murals and dragon-themed fixtures are just a few of the many delightful things you can glimpse as you run (or slide) screaming from a giant, spike-incrusted spider that would probably shoot spikes at you as well if it could get close enough.
Lara has finally opened the entrance to the Temple of Xian, within which lays the coveted Dagger of Xian.
Not content with the old “starting off in front of a dark corridor” trope, Temple of Xian goes one better and just plunges you straight into the dark corridor. Which is in front of a light corridor. We’re really pushing the paradigm here.
This is the door last glimpsed in The Great Wall. Yes, it’s taken us thirteen levels to get through it.
This room is the polar opposite of that textureless room from Temple of the Cat. Evidently they replaced that artist with a click-happy enthusiast.
There it is, at last! The Dagger of Xian! To think, at the start of the first level we were less than a mile from it, and now, finally, it’s within our reach…
Of course, nothing is that easy, and the previous owners of the artefact guarded it well against anybody silly enough to think they can just walk up and take it. The floor surrounding the dagger gives way and Lara finds herself sliding down a waterfall (probably being chased by a boulder, I can’t remember). To compensate, the game gave me an opportunity to execute one of those awesome-camera-angle swan-dives, so it’s not all bad.
After a brief bit of swimming about, Lara stumbles across the Temple of Xian.
Fed up with walls and blocks, Lara has found a tiger (who has the ability to apparate) to hug, but the tiger doesn’t seem so keen. That’ll teach you for running away from those cute snowman boulders, Lara.
This image bypasses any erotic appeal and goes straight for terrifying.
Alternate caption: Hahaha, BOOBS.
I hope it’s clear to see what’s going on here. Basically, Lara is kicking an eagle in the face.
Still riding high on the extra-credit awesome of the above picture, Lara pauses to take a dip in some highly-corrosive, highly-flammable red gunge and somehow leaves unscathed.
Then she just casually leaps into a spike pit without sustaining even the smallest scratch. I suppose this new-found ability to cheat physics kind of makes up for the fact that this level is 90% sharp and pointy.
Inside the temple dwell a collection of life-size warrior statues (it could be a terracotta army, which I have just this minute learnt about(TR just keeps on teaching!)), some of which bare an striking resemblance to Sir Ian McKellen.
Okay, maybe Ian McKellen’s half-Chinese son.
I wasn’t joking about the amount of spikey traps in this level. Even your bog-standard “death by crushing walls” had to be pimped up with some of those things.
Never have I wanted to descend down a dark pit more (well, since the last level).
“Sure, she’ll probably be die from blunt force trauma or being drowned in highly toxic acid, but neither of those deaths have to ability to perforate the body like we, the temple designers, apparently desire.”
Lara’s surroundings inspire her to burst into song. “The tombs are alive…with the sound of multiple-opportunities-for-a-slow-and-painful-death…”
Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a Tomb Raider musical? I would happily volunteer my services as lyricist.
Another close call. Actually, it wasn’t that close, she died.
This is the part of the level I was dreading; the entrance to the infamous “spider cave”. Last time I played this level (aged 15) I had to have my mother sit next to me while I went through it, and so, this time, I waited for my husband to get home before I ventured inwards. I called him into the room to stand guard while I took my first, tentative steps into the dark hole, only to dismiss him thirty seconds later when I realised that I wasn’t exactly quaking in terror. Apparently, 15-year-old me was a bit of a wimp.
To be fair, giant spiders are pretty scary if you’re not expecting them to leap on you from out of nowhere.
*shudder* Why can’t they just explode, like the little ones?
This giant, glowing brain, suspended in the middle of the room, was in fact the nest from which these spiders were all coming from. This time round, I think that freaked me out more than the spiders did.
This pose is less extreme yoga and more suicidal breakdancing.
Finally, Lara manages to climb back up to where she started the level, only to find out that Marco has snatched up the dagger for himself and is now apparently staging his own musical performance.
“I believe in a thing called love…[something incredibly high and unintelligible]…”
Makes Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off that bat look pretty tame, huh?
No gig is complete without a spot of crowdsurfing.
Marco Bartoli plunges the Dagger of Xian into his chest, apparently killing himself. His body falls backwards into the waiting arms of his minions, who carry him off down a(nother) dark corridor.
All the messed-up stuff Lara’s experienced and this she finds shocking?
Of course, Lara can’t be watching other people parade up and down dark corridors without having to get a piece of that action for herself.