Lara Croft’s quest to find the Infada artefact finds her deep in the jungles of India, fighting fearsome tigers and thieving monkeys as she attempts to explore the ruins of an ancient temple. She eventually comes across a small campsite, deserted except for a troubled man, Tony, who has clearly developed some kind of jungle-induced madness. He says the the Infada artefact contains special powers, but speculates that Lara probably won’t survive long enough to find it. Lara seems unconcerned, and, after watching a cackling Tony run off into the jungle, turns on her heel and heads in the opposite direction.
And so we continue our exploration of the temple ruins in the aptly-named Temple Ruins. In terms of danger, this level is the angry big brother of the previous level; while Jungle seemed mostly apathetic to your existence (save for the odd uppity tiger), Temple Ruins does all it can to force you to either leave the jungle or die trying.
We start off in a claustrophobic little space, surrounded on all sides by trees, long grass and mossy walls.
As soon as Lara puts a foot forward to escape this oppressive nightmare, a new threat springs up: the cobra, at least three times Lara’s height in length, coiled and ready to bite her if she comes too close. Cobras tend to remain hidden until Lara has all but stepped on them, and usually manage to poison her before she’s had time to draw her pistols. Getting poisoned is a pain more than anything, as it slowly depletes the health bar until Lara wastes a medipack to give herself the antidote. All of this means the cobra is an early contender for Most Irritating Enemy of Tomb Raider III. At least it can’t fly.
The best part about cobras is the overdramatic, attention-seeking way in which they die, as seen in the above clip. Each Tomb Raider game has to have one enemy that practically performs a dance routine before succumbing to death.
Never mind, at least the monkeys are friendly-oh, no, they hate Lara now as well, probably because she keeps picking up all the medipacks before they have a chance to carry them away to do God-knows-what with. Here they are, teaming up just so they can drum on Lara’s head like she's some kind of bongo.
Every other picture I take of aggressive monkeys makes them look like small, sugar-craving children that have mistaken Lara for their mother and are on the cusp of a temper tantrum. You can almost hear their grating whine. “Muuuuuummmm….”
Finally, some room to breathe! And, as mad Tony mentioned, a half-ton of mudslide, under which may be Randy and Rory, would-be explorers. Lara, having neither the time nor the inclination to rescue the luckless duo, continues on.
Lara makes her way inside the temple, which contains a number of sword-wielding Shiva statues. Like all good statues in a Tomb Raider game, there’s always a 75% chance the Shivas will burst into life at the earliest opportunity.
See what I mean? The Shiva have to be one of the creepiest enemies I have ever seen in this series, thanks to its completely blank face with glowing red eyes, and the way it tends to just stand there and stare at you.
Get on the wrong side of the living statue and it will spear you on a couple of its scimitars and slice you up, then pause to admire its handiwork before casting you aside.
Not everything in this level is as deadly as what Lara has encountered so far, although it’s not through lack of trying. Behold, the entirely inefficient boulder!:
Having failed to so much as graze her elbow with the world’s most pathetic boulder, the level then overcompensates by throwing an abundance of spiked walls at poor Lara.
Give it up, level.
With a few more Shiva kills under her death, Lara gets cocky and starts arming this statue with the swords of its fallen comrades. She was really fussy about what order to place them in, too – the first sword had to go in the left hand, otherwise she would just refuse to do anything. Diva.
Near the end of the level, Lara comes across the bodies of two men, who I’m assuming to be Randy and Rory. Both have been violently split open and are now levitating in mid-air, suggesting some sort of black magic may be afoot.
Not long after discovering the (non mud-slide buried) remains of R&R, we complete the level and are launched into – yes – another cutscene. As someone who loves cutscenes, all I can say is, :D
As Lara emerges from the temple, she sees Tony pass by on self-propelling raft.
“It’s moving! I must shoot it!”
Tony, who now has a massive hunk of green meteorite protruding from his chest (the Infada artefact, don’t you know), laughs as Lara fails to harm his bullet-proof body. He then waves his arms about, causing the earth to tremor.
Either that or Lara’s drunk again.
The ruins collapse around Lara, sending her crashing to the jungle floor, where she almost gets knocked out avoiding chunks of falling pillar.
Lara survives the earthquake, but doesn’t get a chance to retaliate before Tony has disappeared down the river.
She almost runs after him, before a speedier method of transport catches her eye.
Fin. Damn that took me a long time.