LEVEL 16: FLOATING ISLANDS
Kills: 26 Items: 26 (34)* plus 2 Mystic Plaques and 3 secrets
OBJECTIVES: Explore the first area, with the green floating islands, to obtain 2 mystic plaques. Use them to open the large gate leading to the next area. From there, find a way into the lower levels of the building. Then make your way past various hazards and enemies to the emperor's tomb at the end of the level.
NOTE: There are several possible routes through this level. This walkthrough follows one possible path that includes all kills, items and secrets. I've tried to minimize backtracking, but a little bit is inevitable. There are also quite a few shortcuts, which I have not covered here. I encourage you to check out the various speedrun videos on YouTube if you're interested.
Also, since this is the next-to-last level in the game, you don't need to worry too much about conserving ammo anymore. However, you may want to save 10-15 grenades for the final boss fight.
BEGINNING OF LEVEL/GOLD LATTICE BUILDING: You begin on one of this level's mysterious "floating islands." Just ahead on the left is a small medi pack sitting on the ground near the edge. (screenshot) Grab it and move back up onto the green walkway.
As you stand there, a flying warrior approaches very slowly from the building off to the right (i.e., right when Lara is standing on the green walkway facing the gold lattice building). You'll notice a telltale shimmer in the air as he makes his way toward you on his magical jet boots. You'll meet a number of these guardians during this and the next level. They are deadly at close range, but you can often take them out from a distance. This one can be killed as he moves through the air toward you. You can even use pistols if you start firing as soon as Lara gets a lock on him. Then just keep shooting until he explodes. (screenshot)
Afterward, move to the end of the green walkway and look down. Below is a shiny object on a little green island. This is the first of two MYSTIC PLAQUES. You'll be going after it soon. (screenshot)
For now, face the green rock formation shaped like an inverted "V." Take a running jump over it to land on the narrow stone ledge beyond. Turn left and take a running jump into the gold lattice building. Inside, go to the right and throw the switch to open a trapdoor in the building off to the right. (screenshots)
NOTE: The switch also opens a gate at the other end of the gold lattice building. It's possible to go that way and slide down to the building with the trapdoor; however, you'll miss the FIRST MYSTIC PLAQUE and have to backtrack for it later. So I don't recommend doing this.
FIRST MYSTIC PLAQUE: After using the switch inside the GOLD LATTICE BUILDING, return to the edge of the floor overlooking the green islands and ledges. From here, you can see the plaque below on the left. If you don't care about getting all the kills, you can head there now. (If you do want all kills, skip down to the next paragraph.) Position Lara near the left side of the opening, with her left foot and arm touching the gold lattice wall. Pivot slightly to the left so she's facing the right side of the inverted V-shaped green block you jumped over earlier. Hop back from the edge and then take a running jump onto the slope. For the longest possible jump, do not press Action until Lara's feet touch the slope. Then press and hold Action as she slides so she grabs the edge. Release to drop onto the ledge below. From there, take a running jump onto the island with the FIRST MYSTIC PLAQUE. (screenshots) Now, skip down to the section titled "Larger Island with Elevated Building and Petrified Guards," below.
ALTERNATE PATH TO FIRST MYSTIC PLAQUE: If you do want all the kills, or if you're having trouble with the tricky jump onto the green slope, follow this alternate route: After using the switch inside the GOLD LATTICE BUILDING, move to the edge and look down. Just below on the right is another petrified swordsman similar to the one you encountered earlier, except he has not yet come to life. Draw weapons, step off the edge and slide down the slope below. Immediately turn right and lock onto the guardian as he animates. He'll take off and float through the air toward Lara, but you can destroy him with pistols before he gets too close as long as you start shooting right away. Of course, you can also use more powerful weapons to take him down faster. (screenshots)
Then stand at the base of the slope where you just slid down. Face up the slope and turn slightly to the right. If you look ahead between the slope and the green rock formation on the right, you can glimpse the MYSTIC PLAQUE on its little green island. Step back to the edge and adjust Lara's angle so she's facing the stone ledge just opposite the island with the plaque. Then take a running jump to land on that ledge. From there, take another running jump onto the island with the FIRST MYSTIC PLAQUE. (screenshots)
Or, if you can't manage the tricky jump to the stone ledge near the plaque, instead climb the rocks to the right of the guardians' alcove to get back to the start of the level. Move to the edge facing the inverted-V shaped green block. This time, jump onto the left slope facing uphill. Slide back and grab the edge. Drop onto the ledge below. Then take a running jump onto the island with the PLAQUE. (Again, check the screenshots if necessary.)
LARGER ISLAND WITH ELEVATED BUILDING AND PETRIFIED GUARDS: Take a running jump from the island where you found the MYSTIC PLAQUE to grab the next small, green island. Pull up and jump over to the big island. (screenshot) This will awaken a stone spearman on the dais ahead. (There are 3 guards here now; the empty space is where the first flying warrior you met came from.) The petrified spearmen don't fly like the swordsmen do. So if you jump back onto the green rock, he won't be able to reach Lara. So you can shoot him with pistols. When he explodes, jump back across to the big island with the building.
NOTE: There's trick that may be helpful in destroying the other petrified guardians before they animate. For details, see the note below.
Climb into the building through the trapdoor on the underside. Here you'll find 2 sets of Uzi clips, flares, a large medi pack and a SECOND MYSTIC PLAQUE. Approaching the plaque awakens a second spearman below. Either shoot him with pistols through the hole in the floor; drop down and confront him; or drop down, run to the other end of the island, jump over to the small, green island and shoot him from safety.
Afterward, climb up on the rocks to the left of the guards' dais. Jump from the ledge with the small cherry tree to grab the edge of the roof. Pull up and cross over the roof to find SECRET #1, the Jade Dragon. Take it and drop down to the ground. (screenshots)
If you want all the kills, you'll need to revive the remaining spearman. He is set to awaken when you come down the stone slide from the GOLD LATTICE BUILDING. So if you've gone the other way (as I suggested) you'll need to jump onto the slide to activate the guard. First, if it works for you, use the grenade/harpoon trick described in the footnote. Then head to the corner of the island nearest the lattice building and locate the ramp. Position Lara on the shorter, perpendicular ramp, facing the long ramp. Draw weapons, take a standing jump onto the long ramp and immediately backflip onto the smaller ramp. Then slide down and start shooting. Alternatively, activate the guard and then run to the right and jump back onto the little green island. He can't reach Lara here. (screenshots)
LARGER ISLAND, LOWER LEVEL: Now face the guards' platform and head toward the far right side of the island. Drop and hang from the edge, then let go and grab the green ledge below. Pull up into a low-ceilinged room with a green checkerboard floor. Go around to the left and pull the switch to lower the gate on the other side of the room. Take a running jump into the doorway and step through onto the lowered gate. (screenshots)
STEPPED GREEN ISLANDS LEADING UP TO MYSTIC PLAQUE GATE: Take a running jump from the lowered gate to the green island ahead. Move to the far end, turn left and take a standing jump up the slope to the flat spot at the top. From there, take a running jump to grab the edge of the next island, which is larger and roughly L shaped; pull up. Turn right, move up to the base of the steep slope and take a standing jump to the flat spot above. Turn left, head down the steps on the other side of this island. At the bottom turn left again and take a running jump across the wide gap to grab the small, square island ahead; pull up. Turn right and take another running jump to grab the bottom block of the stepped island ahead; pull up. Turn right and climb the stepped blocks. At the top, turn right again and take a running jump to land at the left end of the long, green ledge. (screenshots)
If you don't want all the kills, you can skip the next paragraph and instead jump directly from the bottom of the long, green ledge to grab the edge of the gray stone island. (screenshot) The 2 petrified swordsmen will not awaken when you approach. Skip the next paragraph and continue with the "Mystic Plaque Gate and Garden Beyond."
If you do want all the kills, climb the steps to the top of the long, green ledge but stop before you reach the roof of the GOLD LATTICE BUILDING. One of the 2 petrified swordsmen on the gray stone island will awaken when you reach the end of the green walkway. The other will animate when you step on the gold roof. Activate them one at a time and they'll be easier to shoot as they fly through the air toward you. Once the guards have exploded, return to the bottom of the green walkway and take a running jump across the gap to grab the edge of the gray island. Pull up. (screenshot)
MYSTIC PLAQUE GATE AND GARDEN BEYOND: Pick up 2 sets of Uzi clips and use the 2 MYSTIC PLAQUES in the receptacles to open the gate. Shortly after you enter, another flying warrior rises up from below the bridge on the left. Shoot him as he approaches.
Pick up 2 sets of automatic pistol clips on the ground to the right. Climb the rocks behind the small tree next to where you found the clips. Here you'll see a dark opening at the top of a slope. Walk to the base of the slope and take a standing jump up into the opening, holding Forward so Lara doesn't slide back down. Turn left, follow the tunnel to its end and slide down another short slope to land right on top of SECRET #2, the Silver Dragon. Then turn around, take a standing jump up into the tunnel and follow it back to the opening near the little tree. (screenshots)
CLIMBING TO THE FIRST ZIP LINE: To the left of the bridge is a slope with a green boulder at the top. Climb up and position Lara with her back against the boulder. Backflip over it and slide down the slope as it starts to roll toward you. As soon as Lara stops sliding, hop back once and grab the edge as the boulder sails overhead. Keep hanging as a second boulder rolls down from behind and lands at Lara's feet. Only then pull up. (screenshots)
NOTE: While trying to avoid the green boulders, if you accidentally slide all the way down to the gray-floored area below, you can either reload or kill the petrified swordsman who animates above. Then climb back up to the boulder slope. The section titled "Open Room Below First Zip Line," below, describes how.
After avoiding the green boulders, turn around and jump across the gap in the ledge. Go up to the flat area near the top of the ramp where the second boulder came from. Turn right and take a carefully angled running jump onto the sloping edge of the island with the zip line handle. Slide back and grab the edge, traverse to the right and pull up. Don't worry; the swordsman on the ledge ahead doesn't animate yet. Now grab the zip line, ride it down through the opening in the rock wall and let go as Lara passes over the lower of the two bridges. (The previous set of screenshots shows this sequence as well.)
LOWER BRIDGE AND SECOND ZIP LINE: Enter the room at the right end of the bridge. As you approach the orange tapestry, it rises, revealing 3 stone spearmen. The one in the middle comes to life when you get a little closer. Start shooting as soon as it begins to transform and back out of the room firing. (screenshot) The other statues don't animate yet. So you can give them the grenade treatment (described in the footnote) if you like. Then pull the switch between them. This awakens the 2 remaining enemies and also resets the zip line and raises the gate at the lower end of it.
Destroy the spearmen and then go through the doorway just to the left of the entrance. Grab onto the second zip line and ride it down, keeping the Action button pressed, so Lara grabs the lattice on the opposite wall. Climb to the ledge above. Then scale a second lattice-covered wall and climb over to the green doorway on the right to dismount. Move to the edge, turn around, drop and hang, traverse to the left until Lara is over solid floor and then drop down. (screenshot) Drop through the hole in the floor into the room below.
NOTES: If you have the PlayStation game, you can probably destroy all 3 enemies with grenades before they animate. Approach slowly just until the curtain rises and then stop. Hit each guardian with 4 grenades, which should finish them off. Then use the switch and continue on your way. If the grenade trick doesn't work or you're out of grenades, it's OK to flee. You will need to kill the first guardian. Then pull the switch to awaken the other two, roll and run/jump to the top of the zip line. Ride it down, climb the lattice walls, and continue following the walkthrough as written. You'll have another chance to kill the spearmen from a distance shortly.
OPEN ROOM BELOW FIRST ZIP LINE: Move out from under the overhanging green rocks to target the petrified swordsman who awakens above. (screenshot) When you've destroyed him, pick up the small medi pack lying on the floor. Then climb back through the opening in the green rocks into the room above. Climb onto the angled green block, stand at the lower end and pull up through the hole in the ceiling onto the roof. Jump over the slanted roof to land on the green slide where the boulder trap was. (screenshot) Then return to the top of the first zip line. (Check the earlier screenshots if you need a refresher.)
NOTE: If you avoided the 2 spearmen in the switch room and want to kill them now, instead of riding the zip line all the way to the end, slide down past the bridges and drop off in the opening where the line enters the building. Turn around and shoot the spearmen as they pace back and forth along the bridge. Then hang from the edge of the opening, traverse to the right and drop down into the green room. Skip the next paragraph. (screenshots)
BUG NOTE: OK, this is not technically a bug, more like a feature gone wrong, but it is possible to use the first zip line a second time and drop into the OPEN ROOM BELOW instead of sliding all the way to the end. If you do this, then climb back to the top, you'll be unable to continue because the zip line handle is missing. You'll need to pass through the room with the switch and second zip line in order to reset the first zip line. This awkward video shows how to do that.
GREEN ROOM WITH LAVA WALLS AT BOTTOM OF FIRST ZIP LINE: Now that the metal plate at the end has been raised, you can ride the line all the way to the end. (screenshot) When you land, turn around and jump across the gap in the floor with lava below to the flat area on the right. (screenshot)
Mind the shooting blade traps, and before you go exploring, take care of the flying warrior who sails in from the other side of the room through the opening in the flames. If you get a lock on him as soon as he appears, you can bring him down using just pistols. (screenshot) A second guardian approaches from the same spot if you jump across the gap to the other side of the floor. Destroy him the same way, or just avoid that side of the room if you don't want to deal with him.
Arrange the green carved block so you can use it to climb onto the platform above. Or, pull up on the angled wall to the right of the opening where the cable comes in and backflip onto the platform. Throw the switch on the square column to drop a second stone block into the gap in the floor. (screenshots)
BUG WARNING: Some players have experienced a bug in which pulling this switch more than once causes Lara to get stuck inside the block when she lands on it. Be sure to pull the switch only once.
Drop down from the platform and approach the gap running along the middle of the room. Safety drop onto the block in the lava below. Flip the switch in the alcove to open a trapdoor in the lava pool above. Climb out of the pit by jumping over the lava to grab the edge of the step below the blade shooter. Pull up and climb out of the pit, taking care to avoid the flying disks. (screenshots)
Climb back up to the switch platform and from there onto the wall above the lava pool, where you'll find 2 sets of M-16 clips. (screenshot) From there, take a running jump and press Action while in the air to sail through the trapdoor and land in the water below. (screenshot) You can also use a running swan dive: Set up the running jump as usual, then run forward and tap Walk just before jumping. This is a bit more difficult to do, but it's fun to watch.
DARK, FLOODED ROOMS BELOW THE LAVA: Grab the shotgun shells sitting on the bottom of the pool. Then cross the room and pull the switch to raise a gate above the end of the zip line. Return to the deeper water where you dropped in. Then swim down and to the left, through a narrow passage at floor level. Surface in the next room, turn around and climb into the alcove directly above the passage you just swam through. Pull the switch to turn off the slashing blades in the corridor ahead, as well as some but not all of the shooting blades. Go through to the next room, climb the ledges to the doorway above and follow the short hallway to the right. (screenshots)
You're now back at the bottom of the zip line in the GREEN ROOM WITH LAVA WALLS. Jump across the gap in the floor to the flat area on the right. Move the green carved block into the corner near the opening you just came from. Climb onto the block and jump into the opening above the zip line handle, pressing Action to lower Lara's trajectory so she doesn't bang her head on the ceiling. (screenshot)
Follow the upper passage past a barred opening on the left to a room with a spiked floor. Take a running jump over the spikes to grab the horizontal crevice in the opposite wall. Traverse to the right, pull up and flip the switch to open the bars you just passed. Take a carefully angled running jump from this alcove back to the upper opening in the opposite wall, again holding Action to get the arc right. Or, take a standing jump from the edge of the alcove to grab the edge of the hallway and then pull up. Follow the passageway back to the gate you just opened, which is just ahead on the right. (screenshots)
ROOM WITH LARGE, SQUARE HOLE IN THE FLOOR: There are 2 petrified guards inside. They don't animate until you return to this area later. If you want to, you can give them the grenade treatment (described below), but if you're trying to conserve grenades for the final boss fight, there are other hints for killing them easily in the section where they awaken.
THE CAGE: Move to the edge of the large, square opening in the floor. Slide backwards down the slope, grab the end to break Lara's fall and then drop into the cage below. (screenshots) There's no danger until you pull the switch on the block here to raise the bars. But when you do, 4 knife-throwing cult members attack. The 4 stone guards on each side of the cage won't animate until you approach them. As long as you stay in the cage area and watch out for the lava pits on either side, you can fight the cultists by jumping from side to side while shooting. They'll have a hard time hitting her this way.
If you prefer a more cautious approach, try this: Flip the switch to raise the cage. Then immediately roll, run forward and climb onto the wall on the left or right side. The square column in the middle prevents you from climbing up there. The cultists are pretty relentless, but they will not climb up after you. So you can shoot them from above and use the column for cover whenever they start throwing knives. (The previous set of screenshots also shows this.)
Once the human foes are out of the way, drop down from the wall and face the switch you used to raise the cage. You'll see 4 petrified spearmen positioned around the room: one guarding the switch in the alcove on the left side of the room, two guarding the switch on the right and one standing near the exit. It's not necessary to use the grenade trick here. Instead, try this:
Move to the left or right side of the cage. There's a lava pit on each side, so watch out for these. Take a standing jump over the lava to awaken 2 of the guardians: one directly ahead and one behind in the opposite alcove. Immediately backflip over the lava into the cage area. Turn and climb up onto the wall again. The spearmen have to go all the way around the lava pits in order to get to Lara, so you should have plenty of time to climb back up. You can then shoot them with pistols from above. After the first 2 spearmen are destroyed, drop down and approach the alcove on the right. Once again, take a standing jump over the lava pit. Roll to awaken the third spearman standing in the alcove. Then take a running jump back over the lava. Run to the left and climb back onto the wall as the spearman takes the long way around. Shoot him from above like you did the others. Now repeat this with the fourth warrior guarding the exit. He comes to life as soon as Lara steps down from the low platform that forms the cage floor. So step down, roll, run back to the wall and climb up. Then shoot the guardian with pistols until he explodes. (screenshots)
When the coast is clear, recover some goodies from the cult members' bodies: 3 sets of Uzi clips, 3 boxes of shotgun shells and one of each size medi pack. Then flip the 2 switches in the alcoves where the guards were. One opens the exit, the other a set of large, ornate doors in the room above.
STAIRS LEADING BACK UP TO THE ROOM WITH THE SQUARE HOLE IN THE FLOOR: Go through the exit and start up the stairs. A knife-throwing cultist appears just ahead. Get a lock on him and back down the stairs shooting until he falls. Then continue upstairs. Pick up the large medi pack and automatic pistol clips the bad guy dropped, along with 2 pairs of grenades on the second landing.
At the top of the stairs is a switch that opens the big doors next to it and awakens the 2 petrified guardians just inside. If you hit them with grenades earlier, they'll be dead already (PlayStation) or fairly easy to pop off (PC/Macintosh). If you didn't, or if the grenade trick doesn't work for you, pull the switch then immediately pull it again to close the doors. The warriors will awaken and start thrashing around, and you can shoot them through the doors using your trusty pistols. (screenshot) Then open the doors and go inside.
LATTICE WALLS ABOVE SPIKES AND LAVA: Enter the room on the right with the lattice walls and the lava pool with spikes. Climb up the lattice. Climb the lattice until Lara's feet are positioned on the sixth rung from the top (i.e., the rung with no filigree above). Continue holding Action as you press Jump + Roll to leap off the wall, do a mid-air somersault, and then grab the lattice behind. Climb up and to the left until you reach the red-and-green area. Position Lara's feet on the bottom of the red strip. Again, jump off, roll and catch the lattice behind (i.e., hold Action and press Jump + Roll). Climb to the top, and move as far to the left as possible. Pull up and immediately backflip. As Lara lands on the slope behind her, jump to the left to land on the slope ahead and slide down onto the flat area. Turn right and sidestep to avoid the shooting blades. Quickly draw weapons and kill the knife-throwing cult goon who's waiting here. Take his shotgun shells. (screenshots)
LAVA STREAM AND LEVEL EXIT: Move into the opening overlooking the lava stream. Ignore the movable block, which is there to block the shooting blades. You won't be using the third zip line, so rearranging the block is not necessary. Instead, take a running jump onto the tan rocks on the right. Cross over the rocks toward the doorway, but don't jump over there yet. There's still one more secret to find. Turn and look across the lava stream. Position Lara so she's facing the block just to the left of the thin, jutting ledge on the opposite side of the stream. Look down and you'll see a small, flat ledge below. Now turn around and hop back, holding Action as though you were going to slide and grab the end of the slope. Lara won't actually grab, but the motion will allow her to land safely on the small ledge below. Turn around and take a running jump across the lava into the dark tunnel. Follow it to the end and climb the block steps to emerge on a long, open ledge, which is actually on the roof of the building overlooking the pretty little garden near the MYSTIC PLAQUE GATE. Here you'll find SECRET #3, the Gold Dragon. This is the last secret of the game and carries a bonus of 8 pairs of grenades if you've found all three secrets in this level. (screenshots)
NOTE: If you missed the Silver or Jade Dragon and really need those extra grenades—or if you just like finding all the secrets—it's not too late to go back and get them, though it is a bit of a trek. Instructions are included on a separate page.
Return to the tunnel opening. Take a running jump across the lava to grab the angled block directly ahead. Pull up and quickly backflip onto the thin ledge above and behind. From there, jump into the doorway to finish the level.
†UPDATE HISTORY: 4/25/11 - First major update since this walkthrough was created in 1998. This revision includes many new screenshots as well as various other corrections and clarifications.
4/28/11 - Added info about backtracking to obtain missed secrets, thanks to a tip from Quin.
12/1/13 - Added "objectives" section for each level.
11/22/20 - Added video about resetting the first zip line.
*Under found items, the number in parentheses shows the total including extra items granted for finding all three secrets.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Special thanks are given to the participants in the alt.games.tombraider newsgroup, without whom some parts of this walkthrough couldn't have been written. Thanks also to Adriel, Arjun, Chris R., Iris, Mike P., Rhian, Quin, Ruud and Tom C. for their suggestions on improving this level, as well as to the many players who wrote in to share their results with the petrified guardian–grenade glitch.
TRICKS FOR DEALING WITH THE PETRIFIED GUARDIANS: If you fire 3 grenades at each of the stone warriors before they awaken, it will weaken them considerably. Then, when they do animate, it will only take a single grenade (or far fewer bullets than normal) to kill each one. In the PC and Macintosh games, be careful to use only 3 grenades, not 4, as the extra one seems to cause the game to crash. PlayStation players should find that using 4 grenades works just fine, causing the guards to explode before they even animate. Or, if you have leftover harpoons, them to "tenderize" each petrified guard. Using 25 harpoons will cause them to explode as soon as they animate. Or, use fewer harpoons to partially damage the guards, making them easier to kill when they come to life. These tricks should work for all the guards you'll encounter during this and the next level.
This was first suggested by Guillaume Cormier on the alt.games.tombraider newsgroup.
Addendum: During my most recent play-through of TR2, using a PC with Windows 7, I found that the grenade trick did not work; however, the harpoon method still did. If you've hoarded grenades for this purpose only to find the trick doesn't work, remember that it only takes 4 grenades to kill a guardian once it has animated. So they'll still come in handy.
Whether or not the trick works for you, you may want to save 10-15 grenades for the final boss.
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