Level 1 - Mountain Caves

The level begins with Lara and a her mountain guide on a snowy slope in Peru. As they enter the ruins, the guide is killed, and Lara proceeds inside the mountain cave, the great stone doors of Vilcabamba shutting tight behind her. She's en route to what may be a piece of the Scion, something she and her father has sought after for many years.

Level Objective- Explore the mountain caves for an entrance into the lost city of Vilcabamba.
Artifacts: 3
Relics: 1

Note - I suggest playing through the Croft Manor Tutorial Level first, to learn the basic controls and get comfortable with how you navigate Lara in the game.

On the Mountaintop 

There are three opening cutscenes at the beginning of the game. The first shows a radioactive blast occurring, which reveals a glass container with a mysterious figure inside. The second shows Lara Croft in Calcutta, India. Here, she is approached by Larson Conway who sets up a conference between Lara and his employer, one Jacqueline Natla, CEO of Natla Technologies. Natla reveals that she knows the location of Vilcabamba, a place that Lara and her father had hunted for, years ago. Lara agrees to check out the site. The third cutscene is triggered, showing Lara and her mountain guide arriving on the side of a ruined mountaintop, with a great stone door built into the mountain wall. Lara's guide nearly makes it to the top of a stone platform after the ladder collapses due hundreds of years of decay. Lara will have to find another way up.

You begin on a snowy ledge. Locate the stone wall built into the face of the mountain. Shimmy to the right, and then jump across the broken ledge to another ledge on the right. Shimmy around the corner, and perform a backwards jump onto a small, snowy plateau. From the plateau, jump across the gap to the next snowy platform, and climb the rocks to another stone wall. Jump onto the ledge, and vault up to the higher ledge. Climb atop the high, snowy platform. Turn to face the stone bridge with the hanging wooden bridge across a gap. With your grappling hook, swing across the gap to the stone bridge. Approaching the stairs triggers a sequence where the camera pans in on a secret switch atop the great stone doors.

On the left side of the area, a rocky slope leads up to a platform that you'll need to jump to. Once you are on the platform, jump out, parallel to the great doors, throw your grapple, and swing to the snowy platform on the other side of the doors. From here, jump to the ledges that surround the stone doors. Shimmy to the left of the first ledge, vault up to a higher ledge, shimmy to the left, a bit, and then jump to the ledge on the high stone doors. Use the interact button to press the hidden switch on the wall. The doors will open, and a cutscene ensues showing Lara taking out the wolves that emerge from inside the mountain caves, who kill her travel guide. As she enters the caves, the doors shut tight behind her and she realizes that there is no way else to go, except forward.

Proceed down the hall. You'll be forced to step on a pressure plate that activates all of the traps throughout the caves. On the other side of the pressure pad, use your dodge roll to bypass each set of darts. Black scuff marks on the ground indicate the path of the darts. Alternatively, you can stop in front of the path of each dart, make a judgment on timing, and then run to the next scuff mark. This is a better way to conserve your health. This tunnel empties into a larger room.

On the right side of the room are stairs. Run up the stairs and take a running jump to the other side of the broken wooden platform. Continue along a raised, stone platform, and then jump onto the next wooden platform. We're going to take a quick detour for the first artifact. To skip the artifact, continue to the next paragraph. On the wooden platform you just jumped to, turn and grab the skinny ledge on the rocky wall. Pull up, and then jump to the skinny ledge with snow on it. Following the curve of the ledge, jump to the ledge over the gap, inside what seems to be a little alcove. Jump out of the alcove to a small, square platform with a slope on one end. Slide down the slope, and almost immediately you'll need to jump across the gap to the alcove containing an ARTIFACT. From here, jump to the ledge on the high, stone wall. Shimmy around, and drop into the next tunnel. You've progressed from the point on the wooden walkway. But if you didn't collect the reward:

Jump and grab the ledge on the stone wall. Shimmy to the left, and around the corner. From here, you'll need to jump across a gap in the ledge to the ledge underneath the next tunnel. Once you have, pull up.

TUNNEL W/ FORK AND BATS - 1 Large Medipack
Inside these tunnels, there will be a fork in the path. To progress, first take out the three bats that come from the tunnel opposite your direction. Once you've shot them down (those evil stinkbugs!), turn down the left fork. Hidden in a little alcove is a high platform that Lara cannot reach from the ground, so stand on the nearby rock, and jump to it. Inside is a LARGE MEDIPACK. Backtrack to the fork, and now take the right tunnel. This tunnel will turn to the left awhile down. Once it does, three more bats will come to you from inside the next chamber.

Inside the next chamber, you'll find Lara standing on a high platform that looms above a rocky cave with high ledges visible on the left, and if you can spot it, an Artifact on a high platform. First, we want to safely reach the bottom. So slide down the slope, and at the end of the slope, jump and throw your grappling hook to catch a golden ring mounted into the cave ceiling. Swing and grab the stone ledge on the mossy, rock wall. Shimmy to the left, vault up to the higher ledge, shimmy again, and perform a backwards jump onto the ledge fixed into the central pillar in the cave. From here, drop to the ledge that spans around the corner, and shimmy to the left as far as you can go. Now jump backwards again, this time landing on the platform with the ARTIFACT behind the small rocks. Drop to the curved edge of the platform, and then the ledge below. From here you can drop safely to the ground. Note, if you are doing this in Time Trial, once you've thrown your grapple, if you lower yourself as far as you can, and drop, Lara will not take any damage. Be ready to dispatch the two bats that attack you once you reach the ground, though. If for any reason you'd like to return to the high slope, from which you entered the cave, read the paragraph labeled "Returning to Slope". If you are ready to continue, read "Cave Floor with Switch".

RETURNING TO SLOPE: At the very snowy area, at the tallest part of the cave floor, a ledge is fixed into the rock wall. Grab it, and from there, vault up the next two ledges. At the top ledge, perform a backwards jump onto another ledge, shimmying to the left, and vaulting up higher. Jump to the small ledge on your left, and shimmy around the edge of the cave entrance. From here, you can now drop to the platform with the snowy slope at the cave's entrance.

Once you've collected the artifact, and have reached the ground, look for the place where the cave floor drops off. Jump into the ditch, and follow the short tunnel to a door with a switch on the right. Use the interact button to pull the switch, resulting in an open door. Follow the new passage into a large cave with bridges.

You'll find yourself standing in a chamber with two wooden bridges spanning the gap above the floor below. Wolves inhabit this chamber, and you'll have to come into contact with them. Follow the raised, stone walkway around to the first bridge. Upon approaching the bridge, the wolves will howl and come out from their hiding place. If you can shoot them from the raised walkway, do so. Or if you want to avoid them as best as you can, continue onto the bridge, which will collapse after you bypass the halfway mark on the bridge. I found that if you stand on the shaded section, you can take out the wolves from a ranged approach. Drop to the ground and enter the large alcove set in the wall below the tallest bridge. Inside is a SMALL MEDIPACK. If you noticed the artifact sitting atop the ledge, don't worry, we'll come back to that later.

Climb up the ledge on the raised stone walkway from which you approached the first bridge. If the bridge has already snapped, use the gaps in the planks to vault up to the platform above. First, vault to the next ledge on this platform, and then jump to the first of two pillars. Shimmy, vault up, and perform a backwards jump to reach the second pillar. You'll have to use the recover button here. Shimmy, and jump to the opening in the wall containing the SMALL MEDIPACK. Now backtrack to the highest platform with the second wooden bridge and walk across. Don't worry, it won't snap this time!

HALL W/ THICK PILLARS, ROPE, AND GAP IN FLOOR- 1 Large Medipack, 1 Artifact
Climb up the nearby ledge and enter the hall. Jump to the rope, and turn Lara to face the opening in the wall with the LARGE MEDIPACK. Now make an angled jump back to the initial side of the gap with the rope. In the gap below is a bear. The only way to get the artifact you saw in the cave with the bridges and wolves is to go down there and get past him. A useful tip I found for shooting him at a distance is to lure him out of his hiding spot. From the initial platform, jump to the ledge on the wall and drop to the ledges below. At the bottom, you'll land on a rock slab. Immediately jump up again, vault up to the initial side of the gap, swing across to the other side, and shoot him from the edge of the other side of the gap. Once he's been dispatched, head to the ground floor (if you were the wussy who fought from a distance), and enter the passage with the switch and door. Once you go through, you'll have to backtrack to this area again. Pull the switch, head into the revealed passage, and collect the third ARTIFACT.

Back on the second side of the gap with the rope suspended form above, grab the LARGE MEDIPACK from behind the pillar above the left side of the sloping path.Continue down the path.

In the next room, jump from the ledge to the horizontal pole, and swing to the broken stairs. Jump up the small, broken ledges on the right. Continue down the hall.

You've arrived at the final chamber in Mountain Caves. The objective in this room is to unlock the doors to Vilcabamba via a timed puzzle while avoiding dart traps, battling wolves, and traversing high ledges. Looks like a job for a Tomb Raider. First, we'll deal with the shooting darts. There are eight shooting dart traps. But for maximum health preservation, I suggest rolling to one at a time. Study the different patterns that they shoot out, and try to time a roll/ jump through. Once you've gotten past the spike traps, grab the ledges in the left alcove. Vaulting to the top triggers the wolves to howl. Once at the top, battle it out with the first wolf. For the timed run, you have plenty of time, so don't worry about exploring before tackling these doors. If you're looking for the relic, see the section labeled, "Relic Challenge".

Near where you climbed up, atop the slope, traverse the ledges, and jump to the weight. Make sure it is all the way down before jumping off! A short sequence will show the first lock rising from the door. The timer begins. A low thumping will begin to echo around the chamber. Consider this your timer. Run into the next room, and at the end, turn to your left and swing across the mounted, horizontal poles to the next platform. Dispatch the two wolves nearby, and continue towards the next weight. At the end of this corridor, turn to your right, grab the ledge, and perform a backwards jump to the horizontal pole on a rotating axis. Swing to the second weight. Again, wait until it has lowered all the way before dropping to the ground. Once on the ground, approach the edge facing the doors below, safety drop on the edge, and drop to the ledges below. Step on the central pressure pad, and a sequence shows the great doors to Vilcabamba opening. 

                                                                      RELIC CHALLENGE

Note that you can only access this relic once the doors to Vilcabamba have been opened. Back at the second weight, access the rotating pole, but this time, as soon as you backwards jump onto the pole, jump off in the direction of the great doors. Lara will reach out and grab a ledge that you wouldn't have been able to reach from the ground. Shimmy to the left and jump to the horizontal pole. Shimmy to about the middle of the pole, and then swing to the small ledge on the wall. Vault up, backwards jump, swing to the ledge, and vault up to the final platform where you will be able to pick up the first RELIC in the game.

Back at the doors, walk through to end the level.

Croft Manor Tutorial Level                                            Next Level: City of Vilcabamba