LEVEL 12: ESCAPE WITH THE IRIS
IMPORTANT: The VCI Headquarters levels can be difficult, especially the final level, Red Alert! Unlike in previous levels and previous Tomb Raider games, you have neither your unlimited-ammo pistols nor the luxury of accumulating equipment for a dozen or so levels beforehand. So be sure to conserve medipacks as much as you can, or you may not finish. Whenever possible, I have described ways of handling things that are least damaging to Lara.
STILL ON THE 13th: Follow the hall around to the left.
Cut scene: You can still control Lara, but don't run forward until you hear what Zip has to say over the headset. He advises Lara to place her weapon in the tray before going through the scanners ahead. (A transcript appears here.)
This time take Zip's advice. If Lara goes through the scanners with her gun (beyond the overhead restroom and danger signs), alarms will go off and the gun turrets at each end of the hall will be activated. So approach the Lucite shelf on the left (circled in this screenshot) and press Action.
Cut scene: Lara places her gun on the tray.
Once you enter the scanner, you'll see Lara in X-ray view. Proceed to the right. There are two suitcases lying on the floor. Don't mess with the first one; it contains a bomb. The second case holds a small medipack. Stand close and press Interact to get it. Continue through the small lounge with the water cooler to a T intersection.
Cut scene: You still have movement as you listen to Zip's advice. He tells Lara to avoid the stairs and elevators, and instead head for the roof. (A transcript appears here.)
Pick up the HK clips on the floor to the right. You can see the ELEVATORS at the end of the hall, but don't go any farther than this because there are invisible lasers blocking the way. (NOTE: Zip will tell you about this later, but if you equip the headset then press Action for infrared, you'll be able to see the laser beams.)
Head in the other direction to the next corner. (NOTE: If you stop to use the security monitor, you'll get a view of an armor-clad guy on an outside staircase. There's no need to worry about him yet.)
Continue to another T intersection. The RESTROOM on the right has a locked door with a keypad. Since you don't have the combination yet, go on. The office door ahead opens automatically. Go in and search the cabinet to find a vial of CHLOROFORM. (For whatever reason, the second bottle you had in the last level does not carry over.) Continue along the hallway to the right.
Cut scene: A guard stands just around the corner.
Go into the next office on the right and look in the filing cabinet for a CLOTH. Walk up behind the guard, combine the CLOTH and CHLOROFORM and use them.
Cut scene: Lara subdues the guard. Unfortunately his gun fades away along with him.
Before going on, enter the office at the corner (nearest where the guard was standing) and get a small medipack from the drawer. Then follow the windowed hall to the end, stopping in the second and third offices to get another vial of CHLOROFORM (what do these VCI executives do on their breaks?) and a RESTROOM ACCESS CARD.
Return all the way down the hall to the locked RESTROOM. Now go back into your inventory and take a closer look at that card. The access code is 8526. Position Lara at the keypad and press Action. Now use direction keys to move through the numbers and Action or Enter to select the ones you want. After entering the code, press Enter/Action again to select the star key, which is automatically highlighted.
Go inside and turn left into the ladies' room. You lose control of the camera, but the only item of interest is in the middle stall. Kick open the stall door (Action) to find a large medipack. Exit and go left to the men's room. Again, the Look button is non-functional. Kick open the first stall. Then position Lara in the stall doorway and jump straight up to pull open a trapdoor in the ceiling. Climb into the duct above.
Crawl through to a vertical shaft. Turn around and drop backwards, catching the edge. Let go and immediately press Action again to grab a small niche a little way down the shaft. Then let go and drop from here. (This prevents Lara from losing about half her health.) Crawl through the duct to the ELEVATOR SHAFT.
To avoid a huge fall, crawl backwards and hang from the opening. Climb down the wall to an alcove far below. When you can't climb any farther down, traverse all the way to the right. You should see Lara slip underneath the overhang a little (you'll see her shadow on the floor of the alcove). Let go and Lara should land inside the alcove. On the floor is a golden rose (secret #1, 31/36).
(NOTE: I had initially recommended a more complicated method of getting this secret. A number of helpful raiders sent me this alternative. It seems to defy the laws of "Tomb Raider physics" but it works. If it doesn't work for you, see the bottom of the page for the alternate method.)
Grab the chain and climb nearly to the top. When you glimpse a metal ledge behind Lara (as shown in this screenshot), press Jump to backflip onto it. Turn right (so the open shaft is on Lara's left) and take a running jump to grab the horizontal pole sticking out of the wall ahead. Release Action to land in the small alcove on the other side of the shaft.
You may want to save your game before attempting to jump from the alcove to grab the top of the elevator car. The camera is in front of Lara when she's standing in the alcove, so be sure to use the Look button. Position her at the left side of the opening (left when facing out) close to the edge. Pivot her nearly 90 degrees to the right, so she faces the spot where the ledge meets the wall (as shown in this screenshot). Take a standing jump to grab the edge and pull up.
Walk across the tops of the elevators to the far left to get some HK ammo. Then stand Lara on the VCI box between the two elevators facing the first elevator. Press Action to open a well-camouflaged trapdoor. Drop into the elevator car. Press the button, approach the doors and wait for them to open.
There's a guard in the hall outside. Chloroform doesn't seem to work on him, and you can't run past him because the invisible lasers are still armed. So walk out of the elevator and to the left. Press the button between the two elevators to call the second one. Enter and press the buttons inside to ride up to another floor.
UPPER FLOOR: The reception here is quite hostile. There are 2 large medipacks down at the end of the hall beyond the 2 guards and the armored guy, but you'll probably use up at least that much health trying to get them. I found it easier not to exit the car at all and instead to immediately turn left, run forward and press the elevator buttons again.
A BUMPY RIDE: After pressing the button, the elevator cable snaps and the car plummets to the ground floor. If you don't press the buttons again to activate the emergency brake, Lara is killed in the fall. If you do use the brake, Lara survives.
Cut scene: You can still control Lara as she consults with Zip. He tells her she's on the ground floor and needs to work her way upward again. (A transcript appears on the movie page.)
BOTTOM OF SHAFT AND NEARBY DUCTS: Climb through the hole in the ceiling onto the top of the elevator. Walk to the edge facing the cables for the second elevator. Note the ledge beyond. Take a standing jump to grab the horizontal pole. Let go then press Action again to grab the ledge. Pull up. Climb the textured wall on the right to the second horizontal silver pipe. (You'll also see a red flashing light mounted on the wall just to the right.) Press Jump to backflip onto the ledge behind.
Take a running jump from the right side of the ledge (where there are no cables in the way) to grab the horizontal pole. Let go to land on the opposite ledge. (You'll get the chloroform in the alcove above the pole shortly.) Climb into the crawlspace above and a little to the left of where you landed. Follow the duct to a steep chute.
This next bit is quite difficult; so save your game before attempting it. (The sequence of jumps is shown in these screenshots.) First pivot so Lara is facing downhill before stepping off. Slide down the first slope and onto a second, perpendicular slope. When Lara reaches the middle of the grate on the second slope, jump and grab the horizontal pole above. The pole is difficult to see until Lara is actually hanging from it. If you miss, Lara will slide into some kind of fire pit at the bottom of the chute. After grabbing the first pole, release then press Action again to grab a second pole. Wait for the flame on the ledge ahead to go out before letting go and landing on that ledge. Then quickly step back so Lara doesn't catch fire when the flame comes back on.
Walk to the outside corner of the ledge and take a standing jump to grab the edge of the opening with the multicolored wires. Pull up. Now tightrope walk across the pole to the other side. Pick up the vial of CHLOROFORM. Slide down the chute to a small dark room with a crawlspace leading out.
GROUND FLOOR - HALLWAY WITH AQUARIUM: There's a guard patrolling the hallway. Wait for him to pass to the left before crawling out. Run down the hall to the right, toward an aquarium and Fizwiz machine (shown in this screenshot). Draw the guard's fire so he shatters the aquarium. The shallow depression at the back of tank contains a golden rose (secret #2, 32/36). Grab it and run around the corner away from the guard. Fortunately he loses interest as soon as Lara is out of sight.
(BUG NOTE: I'm not sure what caused it, but the last time I played this level, the guard near the aquarium started his rounds then got stuck walking in place in the glass wall of the fish tank. In order to go on, I had to make Lara crawl out, run toward him, then pass him and draw his fire toward the aquarium. This resulted in greater health loss, but at least it didn't stop the game.)
THREE-TIERED ATRIUM WITH SHALLOW POOL: Follow the ramp to the middle level of the atrium. When you do, the view shifts to show Lara is being targeted by a sniper. Avoid the laser-trapped door and run around the perimeter to the door on the opposite side. Climb the bars to the left of the door and dismount on the ledge above (shown in this screenshot).
Run around to the other side of the upper ledge and press the button to deactivate the lasers and open the door below. But before dropping down, have the sniper help you get the third secret. (These screenshots show details.) Position Lara in front of the fire extinguisher and jump from side to side to minimize the health loss. The sniper will shoot the fire extinguisher, blowing away a section of wall. (NOTE: If Lara is very low on health, she may catch fire when the extinguisher explodes.)
Enter and pick up the golden rose (secret #3, 33/36). Safety drop from the ledge and go through the door you just opened.
Another guard emerges from the door on the left after Lara passes. There's another aquarium at the end of the hall. Run toward it, jumping over the lower area of floor, which is electrified. Draw the guard's fire to break the aquarium. The flood shorts out the floor so you can run to the door on the right and press the button to open it. Go through and it closes behind.
Cut scene: Lara tells Zip that the VCI people are cutting through the door with welding equipment. He informs her that the room she's in is rigged with motion sensors and advises her to move slowly so she doesn't activate the gun turrets.
Walk forward and press each of the 2 buttons flanking the exit. Walk through the door that opens. Then start running. At the end of the hall turn right into the TELEPORT ROOM. The armored guy will not follow Lara this far.
Go through the TELEPORT ROOM to the left and into a small, well-lit ROOM WITH SEVEN SUITCASES. Six of these contain bombs. I can tell you which one is safe (it's the middle one of the three farthest from the entrance), but you'll miss a cool bit of business. Look for a cracked tile on the ceiling just inside the doorway. Stand Lara under it, facing the entrance and jump up to grab a concealed trapdoor. Climb into the crawlspace above and crawl through to a small, dark room. Press the button to activate the X-ray machine. Now you can see which cases contain bombs and which contains the TELEPORTER DISK. Crawl back out, open the correct case and take the disk. (The trapdoor and the case with the disk are shown in these screenshots.)
Return to the TELEPORT ROOM. To the left of the door leading out to the hall is a computer console. Use the TELEPORTER DISK here to activate the device. Place the IRIS ARTIFACT in the metal armature near the center of the teleporter. This activates the device and Lara is teleported to another room. Here there's a hole in the floor behind Lara. Drop in and follow the red-lit passage to a vent overlooking another hallway.
Cut scene: Zip tells Lara to watch the guard to learn the keypad combination.
HALLWAY WITH KEYPAD: Equip the headset and zoom in on the keypad. Soon the guard will come by and enter the combination: 1672. (See the Equipment Notes in the previous level if you need help.) When you've got the code, continue to a crawlspace. Wait for the guard to come by again. When he goes through the locked door, crawl out, run toward the door and pick up the vial of CHLOROFORM on the floor opposite the door. Run back to the crawlspace and hide until the guard comes around again. Wait for the guard to come around again and when he goes through the door, crawl out, run to the keypad and enter the combination. Walk up the ramp, combine the CLOTH and CHLOROFORM and use it to subdue the guard.
NOTES: (1) If you have leftover chloroform from before, you can skip the first excursion into the hall to get the bottle. (2) You can run about a third of the way up the ramp to save some time, but then you need to walk to avoid attracting the guard's attention. (3) Pressing Action while standing behind the guard won't make Lara do the deed. You have to press Escape to go to inventory, combine the cloth and chloroform, then select "Use". (4) If you tried the technique above and it still didn't work, instead try this: Open the door with the keypad as described above. Then run about a third of the way up the ramp. Slow to a walk and continue to the crate with the white circles at the top of the ramp on the right. Climb over this crate and hide behind it until the guard leaves again. Then continue with the walkthrough.)
Get the large medipack behind the crate with the white circles at the top of the ramp. Then press the button just inside the room. (It's on the left pillar if you're facing down the ramp.) This deactivates the X-ray machine and opens the door barring the way to the next area.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Crawl through the small, red-lit opening on the right side of the room (when facing the ramp). Climb onto the ledge. A trapdoor opens and you can jump down into the hall where you started the level. Take your HK RIFLE from the shelf and continue through the now-deactivated scanner.
(BUG NOTE: If you're using the PlayStation version, DO NOT SAVE YOUR GAME immediately after retrieving the gun. This can cause the game to freeze requiring you to restart. Instead, take the gun, continue along the hall and then save.)
At the T intersection beyond the small lounge with the water cooler, go to the left. (The invisible lasers on the right are still armed.) Continue to the corner. Use the HK's sniper mode to shoot the fire extinguisher in the doorway, blowing open the nearby door. (NOTE: Be sure not to stand too close or Lara may catch fire when the extinguisher explodes.) Exit to the fire escape to end the level.
*Note on Kills: The total number of enemies is 8 (all noted in orange type), but Lara only kills 2 of themthe guards she subdues with chloroform.
**Note on Secrets: There are 36 golden roses in the game. If you find them all, after the credits you'll be able to access "Special Features" from the options menu. This is a collection of storyboards, etc., created during the game design.
Alternate Method for Getting Secret #1: Crawl backwards to the exact center of the opening. (It's easier to tweak Lara's position while crawling than climbing.) Hang from the climbable wall and press Jump + Roll + Action at the same time to make Lara spring from the wall, twist in midair and grab the chain behind her. Slide down the chain to the bottom. Turn around to face the alcove with the golden rose and step to the back right corner of the ledge (farthest from the alcove opening and out of the way of the chain). Then take a standing forward jump. Jumping from the edge nearest the alcove doesn't work. Lara either grabs the climbable wall (if you press Action) or bangs her head and slides down the shaft (without Action). After getting the rose, take a standing jump back to the bottom of the chain.
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