Throughout this walkthrough I use abbreviations for north (N), northeast (NE), southwest (SW), etc., to give directions. There is no compass in this game, but just to make it easier to navigate on screen, we'll assume north is up, west is left, east is right and south is down. Outdoor levels include a map screen in the Inventory in case you get lost. Also, I played using the medium combat difficulty setting so your experiences may differ slightly on a different setting.
*Although the PC, console and iOS versions are similar, there are significant differences in a few areas. This walkthrough covers the original version but may also be helpful to iOS users.
Level 6: Toxic Swamp (Single Player)
For the 2-player co-op walkthrough, please see here.
Score Challenges: 220K, 320K, 360K (Bonus: Hand Cannons)
Artifacts: Stone Feather, Stone Lizard, Gold Owl, Gold Arrow
A complete list of artifacts, relics and weapons can be found here.
LEVEL ENTRANCE: Now that you're outdoors again, the Level Map in the inventory is back. You begin at the southern end of the map. There are health and ammo pickups nearby, which you can return for later if you need them. Grapple the golden ring above the door and climb the cable to the AMMO UPGRADE hovering above the door. (screenshot)
Throughout this level you'll encounter numerous Invasion-of-the-Body-Snatchers-looking green pods. When you disturb them they pop, releasing toxic spores. Try to avoid triggering them in the first place, but if you do, be sure to move out of the green cloud so Lara doesn't take poison damage. If you jump over them or run quickly between them, you can usually get out of the way before they pop. There's also a brief safe window after the gas clears. Then the pods respawn.
Head down the steps to the east. Throw a spear or two into the cliff wall ahead and climb onto the plateau above. Head to the south to find a large cache of gems. Drop down on the north side of the plateau, bypassing the path leading away from the starting area. (screenshots)
Proceed northward. A short cut scene shows a pair of lizards approaching. They trigger some of the pods, causing a column to collapse and crush them. When you advance, a pack of lizards attacks. Try not to trigger the poison pods beside the path as you fight them.
Continue to the north until you come to a flight of steps. There are gems in the bushes to the right of the stairs. At the top you'll find a red skull (1/10) hovering above a cluster of pods. To get it, leap over the pods and move out of the way before they burst. (screenshot) Then climb the stairs to the right (E).
TALL TOWER AND CHALLENGE TOMB ENTRANCE: Here more lizards attack. You may want to set a bomb near the top of the steps, run back down and detonate the bomb as the lizards converge. Then shoot any survivors and return to the top.
NOTE: This area is shown near the lower right of the level map; it's the green area with the buildings just below the black label indicating the first gateway. (screenshot)
Go around to the right side of the tomb. You'll find some gems here, and another lizard will sneak up from behind. Throw a spear into the outer wall of the Challenge Tomb and climb onto the roof to find another red skull (2/10). (screenshots)
Jump down from the roof onto the broken column on the left. (Or drop down to the ground, deal with a few more lizards. Then jump on top of the broken column.) While standing on the column, throw a spear into the tower just above the pods clustered at the bottom, jump onto the spear and then climb the ladder to the top of the tower, where there are more gems. Climb back down to the spear and jump clear of the pods. (Again, check thescreenshots if you need a visual.)
FIRST CHALLENGE TOMB: Now enter the tomb. Inside, drop down into the lower area on the right. Use a bomb to dismantle the rolling ball trap, just as you did in the Spider Tomb. Carefully roll the big ball between the pods on the left side of the room. Push it into the area surrounded by the 3 poisonous pods clustered together and then quickly move out of the way. When the pods explode, they catapult the ball onto the ledge above. Push it across the upper room and into the fire pit to block the flames. Then hop over it and retrieve some gems and a Stone Feather Artifact (- bomb, + speed). (screenshots)
Exit the tomb and return down the stairs to the west. Shoot yet more lizards and follow the plank bridge to the NW.
FIRST GATEWAY: Entering this next area triggers a cut scene, in which Xolotl swears to wreak his revenge and then closes the first huge, wooden gate, preventing Lara from following him. . . for now.
When the movie ends, several of the nearby pods burst, releasing bogmen. These humanoid creatures aren't hard to kill but explode when they die, releasing clouds of the same toxic gas that comes from the pods. More bogmen and lizards soon join the fight. If things get too intense, retreat across the wooden bridge. Then you can bomb/shoot a few enemies at a time as they approach.
Note that while the regular pods respawn after they've popped, the ones containing bogmen don't. Sometimes you can trigger the pods ahead of you by shooting them, but this isn't always possible. Just as often, bullets and spears sail over the pods without hitting them.
After the fight, you'll find an ammo pickup and 2 health packs in the area near the FIRST GATEWAY, which you must now figure out how to open.
Climb the stairs just south of the gate, pick up more ammo and head to the right (E) along the cliff's edge for a few gems. Return to the left and follow the wooden road toward the building with the blue light emanating from the doorway. Fight some more lizards and bogmen. There's a box of TNT and a few trucks near the building that will explode when you shoot them, damaging both enemies and Lara if she's too close. Gather a few more gems. Then enter the building. (It's marked "Gateway Crypt" on the level map.)
FIRST GATEWAY CRYPT: Inside you'll find an AMMO CACHE and a GRENADE LAUNCHER sitting on a pedestal. Equip this new weapon and use it to destroy the 2 huge gears on the NW wall. If you're having trouble aiming grenades at the gears, try targeting them first with the spear, so you'll see the yellow dot. Then, without moving or changing your aim, switch to the grenade launcher and fire. A brief cut scene shows the big gate lowering. (screenshots) Top off your ammo at the cache and return outside.
THROUGH THE FIRST GATE: Follow the wooden walkway around to the gate. When you approach it, numerous lizards and a few bogmen come through. Kill them, wait for the stench to clear and then go through.
Walk up the angled stone beam on the right and hop across the tops of the pillars to get the gems. (screenshot) Drop down and pick up some ammo. Then continue along the road to an open area with a HEALTH SHRINE.
If you're not interested in visiting Challenge Tombs and collecting skulls, continue along the main path to the west. Skip the next section and pick up the walkthrough below at the RAISED PATH BETWEEN TOXIC POOLS, below.
If you do want all the goodies, head north from the HEALTH SHRINE to the edge of the toxic green lake. Jump onto the small, square platform sitting in the water and from there to the opposite bank. Continue forward toward the CHALLENGE TOMB with the red lights. (screenshots)
Several lizards spawn as you approach. Shoot them. Then use a spear to climb onto the roof of the tomb to get a red skull (3/10). Drop down and enter the tomb.
NOTE: This Challenge Tomb is the building just above the black label indicating the second Gateway Crypt on the map. (screenshot)
SECOND CHALLENGE TOMB: Inside there is a central area surrounded by impenetrable spiked logs, as well as another AMMO CACHE in one corner. Use the grenade launcher to lob grenades through the bars and blast the large ball into the fire pit. This opens the barred alcove on the right, which contains the Three Arrows of Tezcatlipoca Relic (Power Bomb and Scatter Shot). (screenshots)
Top up your ammo and return outside. Follow the path away from the tomb, which leads first west then south. (screenshot)
RAISED PATH BETWEEN TOXIC POOLS: On the way you'll pass several pods, some of which explode, releasing bogmen. If you take it slowly, you can trigger a few at a time so you won't be overwhelmed. There are 2 ammo pickups and a health pack in this area, as well as a crate of explosives which you can use against the enemies if you're crafty.
SECOND GATEWAY: Head NW toward the gate, picking up more ammo on the way. When you approach, a gigantic swamp ogre emerges from the ground in front of the gate. (screenshot) Like a regular ogre, he'll rush at Lara and try to pound her, but he also fires blasts of green gas. Various bogmen and lizards soon join the fight. Retreat along the path, dropping bombs and shooting or lobbing grenades as you go. Try to avoid the pods if possible. The swamp ogre is also vulnerable to fire, so you may want to start with the flamethrower and set him alight, then switch to guns or grenades and back away shooting.
Or, if you prefer to fight from a fairly safe position, run back along the path to the CHALLENGE TOMB, use a spear to climb onto the roof, and shoot the approaching enemies from above. (screenshot)
When the ogre falls, he drops health and/or ammo, and the vaporous green goo drains from the pools on the left and right so you can now explore these previously inaccessible areas.
Follow the wooden path through the formerly flooded area NE of the gate where the swamp ogre appeared. Fight some more lizards and grab more health and ammo if you need it. Just watch out for the pods here; some of them spawn bogmen.
If you're not interested in challenges and loot, you can immediately enter the SECOND GATEWAY CRYPT, which is the doorway with the blue light shown in the last cut scene. (screenshot) It's also marked on the level map. (Skip down to that section of the walkthrough, below.)
If you do want all the goodies, continue to the north end of this drained pool to find a square platform with gems on top and a health pack nearby (also shown in the previous screenshot). Several bogmen attack when you climb onto the platform. Deal with them and continue NW to the upper corner of this area.
Here you'll find an ammo pickup and a large ball. When you grab the ball, a message about the Reward Challenge: Heal the rolling ball flashes on screen and a large pack of lizards attacks. You can kill some of the lizards by squashing them with the ball, but you'll soon be surrounded. I recommend moving away from the ball, south toward the crypt entrance so you can fight without worrying about triggering the nearby pods. (screenshots)
Afterward, return to the ball and roll it south toward the crypt. Use a bomb to blast it up the wooden ramp. Then continue rolling it SE along the wooden road and bomb it up the second ramp. Then roll it SE between the crumbling walls and out the other side of the ruins to the NE. Continue along the elevated path that leads between the now-drained pools. When the path forks at the drained pool with the tall tower, head to the right (E).
The HEALTH SHRINE is just south of the square platform you used to jump across the water to the Second Challenge Tomb earlier. (On the level map, it's shown below the black label indicating the Second Gateway Crypt.) Roll the ball onto the shrine to heal it and complete the challenge. The reward: a HEALTH POWERUP. (Again, check the screenshots and map detail if necessary.)
NOTE: When you first obtain the ball, instead of rolling it toward the crypt, you could also blast it up the tiered edge of the drained pool onto the elevated pathway to the west. This is tricky though, and more often than not the ball overshoots the path and lands in the pit at the base of the tall tower, making it difficult to move without triggering the nearby pods. I found it much easier to use the wooden walkways and ramps.
DRAINED POOLS WITH GOODIES: Head NW from the HEALTH SHRINE, past the small, square platform to the nearest deep, drained pool. Grab the health and ammo pickups at the foot of the tall tower, but watch out for the pods. Then climb the ladder on the side of the tower to get a red skull (4/10) and some gems. (screenshots)
Climb back down and head S/SW to the next drained pool. Here you'll find red skull (5/10) on top of a narrow column surrounded by pods. Throw a spear into the column and use it to reach the skull without setting off the pods. When you take the skull, 2 shamans appear on the rim. Spear them from above or hop down and deal with them before they do too much damage. (screenshots)
Now return NW to the wooden road and follow it to the SECOND GATEWAY CRYPT. (It's marked on the level map and shown in one of the earlier screenshots in case you get disoriented.)
SECOND GATEWAY CRYPT: Inside the crypt there's another AMMO CACHE and a low-walled maze full of pods. The goal is to work your way through the maze from the entrance to the western corner, where you'll find a pressure pad. Step on it to open a gate just to the right of the pad. Here there are 2 more pads that lower a wooden wall so you can shoot grenades at the huge gears that control the bridge outside. When you've destroyed the gears, the gate on the other side of the pressure pads opens, leading straight out of the maze to the exit.
The following sequence is shown in a series of screenshots.
This is also the site of a Reward Challenge: Clear the maze without taking any poison damage. That's not to say you can't take any damage at all, just not damage from poison. It's not too difficult to avoid the pods themselves, but as you explore the maze, you also trigger the appearance of 3 ogres, who couldn't care less about knocking Lara into the pods or setting them off. There are also a few pods that hatch bogmen, which can be a problem, as they exude poison when they die. But once you've destroyed them, they don't respawn.
It's possible to rush through the maze avoiding hazards and make your way to the western corner, open the gate and kill the three ogres from within the pod-free zone there, but I prefer a more cautious approach: The ogres appear one at a time as you move deeper into the maze. So advance carefully just until you hear the telltale crash of an ogre spawning. Then run back to the entrance/ammo cache area where there are no pods. Fight the ogre, then go back into the maze and repeat the process with the second ogre.
For the third ogre, I'd suggest moving through the maze to the southern corner, which is mostly clear of pods. The ogre then appears a little to the NW. If you fight him here, along the southwestern wall, you should be able to do it without triggering any pods.
When you've cleared the area of enemies, proceed to the pressure pad to the NW. Move carefully between the nearby pods to avoid popping them. Or, jump over them to reach the pressure pad, which opens the gate to the right, and then quickly move against the wall to avoid taking damage. Wait for any toxic gas to clear and then jump back over the pods and enter the area with the 2 pressure pads to the NE. Step on each pad in turn to lower the wooden barrier and use the grenade launcher to destroy the giant gear diagonally opposite. When both gears have been destroyed, a cut scene shows the huge gate outside opening. The gate beyond the second pressure pad also opens, so you can exit the maze near the AMMO CACHE.
If Lara didn't touch any poison, as you exit the crypt, you'll beat the challenge and earn a Stone Lizard Artifact (- defense, + bomb). (Again, check the screenshots if you need a visual.)
There are also some gems and a couple of health packs in the maze, and the ogres each drop ammo and/or health. Unless you're desperate, go back for these only after you've completed the challenge. When you have everything, return upstairs and outside.
SECOND GATEWAY: As you exit the crypt, 3 shamans appear at the top of the ramp. Run up and take them out. Again, the spear at close range works well against these guys. Now head NW toward the giant gate you just opened. There's ammunition near the foot of the stairs leading up to the gate and health to the right of those stairs—provided you didn't pick it up earlier when you fought the swamp ogre. Gather some gems at the top and then go through the gate.
PATH TO THIRD GATEWAY: Follow the road beneath a large, toppled column. Pass the stairs leading up to the south and continue west to find a cache of gems near a lone pod. Return to the stairs, climb to the top and step out onto the fallen column. Throw a spear into the smooth, stone ledge ahead and climb up. (screenshot)
There are numerous pods in the open area ahead. As you approach, some of them hatch bogmen. There are also 2 ammo pickups and a health pack sitting on the ground.
NOTE: This is the area in the corner on the far left side of the level map.
Off to the left is a dais with a red skull (6/10) and some gems. (screenshot) When you take the skull, another a giant swamp ogre drops from the sky, and several more bogmen hatch. I recommend moving back toward the smooth ledge where you climbed up to avoid triggering the pods as you fight. The ogre drops more health and/or ammo when he dies.)
CHASM WITH BROKEN BRIDGE AND WOODEN LEDGES: When the coast is clear, head to the NE. The bridge across the chasm here is broken. So throw a spear into the smooth stone ledge and climb up. Grapple the golden ring on the wall above the cluster of pods, move to the outer corner of the ledge and then step off so Lara ends up hanging below and between the pods, hopefully without setting them off. If they do pop, just wait for the gas to clear before continuing. Climb straight up the cable to snag the HEALTH UPGRADE. Swing back and forth above the pods and then jump over them to land on the ledge to the right. (screenshots)
On the other side, pick up some gems on the right. Then continue NE, following the narrow plank ledges around the edge of the chasm. Try to avoid triggering the pods at the end of the second wooden bridge. Popping any of them triggers a chain reaction causing them all to burst. If this happens, stand in the safe area on the left. (screenshot)
CLIFF ABOVE SECOND CHALLENGE TOMB: Head up the stairs to the NE, into a clearing with more pods. As with the pods below, triggering any of these sets off a chain reaction, in which all the pods in the area explode, some hatching bogmen. You may want to plant a bomb at the top of the stairs, deliberately trigger the pods and then back up shooting. When the bogmen reach the top of the stairs, set off the bomb. Then shoot any survivors.
There are 2 staircases leading up to the north. Climb either one. At the top, head to the left, shoot some lizards and pick up a few gems at the end of the broken stone walkway on the far left.
WIDE BRIDGE: When you step out onto the big bridge to the NE, spikes rise out of the floor, cutting off your retreat. A cut scene then shows a motley crew of ogres, bogmen and other enemies marching toward Lara. Then lightning strikes a nearby column, causing it to fall onto the bridge and taking out the enemies in the process.
As soon as you regain control of Lara, move toward the low wall on the right. Wait just briefly for another lightning bolt to blast away a section of that wall. Then move through the gap onto the right side of the bridge before another column falls and destroys the left side where Lara was just standing. Another ogre spawns behind you. Just ignore him and continue running forward. Stay close to the low wall on the left as you jump across the next gap. Then veer to the right to get the red skull (8/10) and continue running to the end of the bridge. (screenshots)
THIRD GATEWAY: Pick up some ammo and a health pack on the ground near the final gate, just ahead. (This is the area marked "Gateway 3" at the top center of the level map.)
Before heading down the steps to the SE, go after another pickup: Move into the area between the end of the bridge and the steps. Use a bomb to destroy the low wall near the poison pod and go through into a narrow, enclosed area with several gems. Then continue SW to find a HEALTH UPGRADE tucked in a corner of the ruined wall. Now backtrack toward the gate, fighting a pack of lizards that spawns in the area where you found the gems. (screenshots)
Like the others, the THIRD GATEWAY is barred from within. Head down the stairs to the SE to find the crypt with the gate mechanism. The area below is basically a big loop that starts and ends at the bottom of these stairs. It doesn't really matter which way you go unless you're trying to beat the 9-minute Reward Challenge. In that case, you can avoid most of this area and just head S/SW to the crypt. For this walkthrough, however, we'll cover everything.
At the foot of the stairs, there's a HEALTH SHRINE. Just to the south of the shrine is a square platform—actually the top of a tall tower—with a red skull (9/10). Run between the pods to get it. Don't climb down the tower, though. Instead, wait for the gas to clear and move back past the pods. (screenshot)
Go down the next set of stairs to the east. A pack of lizards emerges when you reach the bottom. Kill them and pick up more health, ammo and gems.
When you descend the next flight of stairs to the south, a giant swamp ogre appears, along with some bogmen and other enemies, including a shaman. You may want to retreat up the stairs to the north as you fight, to avoid setting off a stink-pod chain reaction in this area. Don't drop down off the wooden platform to the left yet, though, as this will just trigger more lizards, making the fight harder than necessary. Afterward, pick up the health/ammo the giant drops, plus another health pack at the south end of the clearing.
Now drop down into the area below the wooden ledge on the left and fight the lizards. Then climb the stairs to the west to meet another pack of lizards. Grab the health pack and enter the crypt.
THIRD GATEWAY CRYPT: Like the other crypts, this one contains an AMMO CACHE. Equip the grenade launcher and top up your ammo if necessary. Then pull the golden handle just inside on the right. This lowers a wooden wall on the other side of the room, allowing you to get a clear shot at the huge gears on the back wall. You'll need to get there before the handle retracts and the wooden wall pops back up.
To do this, pull the handle as far as it will go, release it, and run/roll between the pods, around the corner and over the spikes. On the ledge just beyond the spikes, jump across the gap to the right and then run/roll between the pods to the NE. If you make it before the wooden wall pops up, fire a grenade at the gear. If you don't make it in time, return to the handle and try again. (screenshots)
If you want to—and especially if you're attempting the 9-minute Reward Challenge—you can try and shoot both gears from the right side, eliminating the need to pull the second handle.
Otherwise, for the second gear, move to the other handle on the left side of the starting area. Pull it as far as it goes, release and run/roll around the corner and over the spikes. On the ledge just beyond the spikes, jump across the gap to the left and then run/roll between the pods to the NE and fire a grenade at the gear.
When both gears have been destroyed, a cut scene shows the final gate coming down outside.
Now, if you like, you can go after the AMMO UPGRADE at the end of the narrow spike field. If you're agile, just jump over the gap onto the spikes, staying to either side, run forward, gathering gems as you go, hook around at the end to grab the upgrade and then run back along the other side of the spike field and jump onto the ledge. Or, if that's too scary, throw a spear into the wall at the end of the spike field. Run down and jump onto the spear, where it's safe. Wait for the spikes to retract. Then hop down, snagging the upgrade, and run back. (screenshots)
Exit the crypt and return to the north, either by climbing the tall tower, where you found red skull (9/10) earlier, or via the stairs. More lizards spawn near the base of the tower. To kill them easily, grab the ladder and climb up just a little. Drop a bomb and detonate it, destroying the lizards as they cluster below. (screenshot) Several bogmen and lizards appear on the level with the HEALTH SHRINE. Kill them and go up the stairs on the left to the gate you just opened.
NOTE: The THIRD GATEWAY is marked on the level map. It's actually the entrance to a tunnel that leads to the island shown at the northeast corner of the map.
THIRD GATEWAY - TUNNEL TO THE ISLAND: Inside there's another rolling ball trap. This is the site of a Reward Challenge as well as an artifact. You can't get both at the same time, but you can obtain them in the same play-through if you go for the artifact first. Here's how. (This sequence is shown in series of screenshots, as well as a short video walkthrough.)
Use a bomb to destroy the trap, freeing the huge ball. If you set off the bomb just as the ball rolls around toward the staircase, momentum should then propel the ball down the stairs or off the ledge on the right. (At this point, you'll see the notice about the 30-second time challenge. Ignore it for now.) If necessary, guide the ball down the stairs, releasing it on the way down so it rolls on through the spikes on the level below. Then either go around the spikes or move over a section that is still retracted. (You can also use bombs to move the ball, but I find you have less control this way, and the ball often veers off course or lands among the pods.)
Depending on where the ball lands after crossing the spikes, either roll it down the next set of stairs or push it off the ledge on either side. Try to avoid the pods, but if you do accidentally trigger them, either go around the cloud of toxic gas or move aside and wait for it to clear before continuing. There's no hurry at this stage.
Ease the ball down the last flight of stairs, holding onto it so it doesn't roll onto the next set of spikes. Carefully guide it onto the pressure pad on the left side of the spike field.
This opens the gate on the upper level so you can reach the artifact. When you return there, a giant swamp ogre and 2 shamans are waiting for you. The shamans are positioned on either side of the staircase leading up to the level where the ball trap was. You can kill them first, without triggering the ogre, if you shoot them from below. Then switch to the grenade launcher, climb the stairs and fight the ogre. When he falls, wait for the green cloud to disperse and take the Gold Owl Artifact (+ defense) from the alcove on the NW wall.
Now, if you don't care about the reward challenge, just return downstairs to the ball, push it across the last row of spikes and roll it into the firepit. Then jump over it to the exit.
If you do want to try the 30-second challenge, quit the game and continue. As long as you don't move the ball into the fire pit beforehand, the dungeon will reset so the rolling ball trap is still intact, but you'll still have the artifact. (You can also kill Lara to reload, but you'll lose points that way.)
This time, plant a bomb near the axle of the trap, wait for the ball to roll around so it's almost in line with the stairs. Then detonate the bomb. (The timer starts when the trap is destroyed.) Momentum should then send the ball rolling down the stairs and across the first spike trap. Follow it down and then run/roll across one of the clear sections of spikes.
The next level has no spikes, just a lot of poison pods. Again, roll the ball around them if possible. Give the ball another push and let it roll down the stairs and across the spikes on the lowest level. Follow it by running/rolling across a different set of spikes. Finally, grab the ball and guide it into the fire pit. Your reward: an AMMO POWERUP. (Again, check the screenshots if necessary.)
NOTE: If you reach the lowest level with the ball but don't think you've made it within 30 seconds, you can quit and continue to try again. But once the ball goes into the fire pit, a checkpoint registers and the ball remains in the pit from then on. You'll have to replay the level for another chance.
When you're finished, gather any gems you may have missed earlier and exit past the now-plugged fire pit.
NORTHEASTERN ISLAND: Pick up gems, health and ammo just outside the tunnel, but watch out for the bogmen that hatch from some of the pods. When you climb the stairs to the NE, more bogmen hatch and the stone archway collapses. You may want to back down the stairs as you fight to avoid triggering more pods.
If you're racing for the exit, head immediately across the plank bridge to the north and skip down to the LEVEL EXIT section, below.
Otherwise, take your time exploring the rest of this island, advancing gradually, hatching pods and shooting any bogmen inside. At the eastern end of the island is a slightly lower area with gems, health, ammo and a tall tower. Climb the tower to find red skull (10/10). (screenshot/map) If you've found the others as well, you'll receive the Golden Arrow of Tezcatlipoca Relic (Power Shot and Scatter Shot).
When you climb down from the tower, after obtaining the relic, several bogmen hatch, even if you destroyed their pods before. Deal with them and return up the stairs to the south.
LEVEL EXIT: Cross the rickety plank bridge to the NW. After a short cut scene in which Xolotl taunts Lara once more, approach the overgrown ruins. The pods in this area are not active yet. So if you're not doing the time challenge, take a minute to explore this small island gathering gems. Go up the stairs on the left and circle all the way around back to emerge on the ledge to the right of the big door.
If you are trying to beat the 9-minute challenge, don't bother going all the way around back. Instead, just go straight for the handles. Throw a spear into the ledge on the right and climb up. Pull the golden handle there. Drop down, climb the stairs and pull the second handle to the left of the door. Now step on the square pressure pad in front of the door to trigger a cut scene: The pods begin to inflate and burst. Looks like a colossal chain reaction is imminent. So when Lara shouts "Run!" you'd better do it. (screenshots)
Run/roll to the left, up the stairs and around behind the building as fast as you can. If you start moving as soon as the cut scene ends, you should manage to stay ahead of the bursting pods. When you round the back of the building, run down the stairs then move down screen to the ledge with the first handle. As you do, the big carved door falls open like a drawbridge. Jump from the ledge directly onto the drawbridge and run inside to end the level.
If you finished the level in 9 minutes or less, you'll beat the Reward Challenge and receive a Gold Arrow Artifact (+ weapon).
†UPDATE HISTORY: 8/28/10 - First draft walkthrough posted.
10/9/10 - Added 30-second challenge video and tweaked strategy slightly.
10/17/10 - Added screenshots and challenge video, along with a few minor edits for clarity.
9/30/12 - Made a few minor tweaks for clarity during the writing of the co-op walkthrough.
WAS THIS WALKTHROUGH HELPFUL? If not, I apologize and invite you to contact me with any questions. If you need help right away, I recommend the r/TombRaider subreddit. Other fan-run forums are listed at tombraiders.net/stella/community.html. If this site was useful, please consider supporting it financially or in other ways. For details, visit tombraiders.net/stella/support.html. As always, I welcome your corrections/suggestions. Thank you!
Stella's Tomb Raider Site: tombraiders.net.