Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tomb Raider [Download]

Tomb Raider [Download]




After preloading and starting the game when it was released, the game would not launch. It turns out the Direct3D error failure to launch was due the enabled "Exclusive Full Screen" setting. Once disabled, I ran the game in Ultimate graphics mode.

Everything... was what I wanted from a Tomb Raider reboot. The TressFX hair is excellent, and the lighting and voice acting is excellent at well. But after 30 minutes of playing, CRASH! Booted back to Windows 8 Desktop.

Crashes occur on computers, so I just relaunched and didn't think anything about it. Then again, the same crash occured twice more in the next 30 minutes. I got worried. Searched online and it turns out that all GTX 600 series cards are crashing in Tomb Raider.

Wonderful game from the hour I've played, but highly disappointing that we're gonna have to wait for a patch. Despite this, the game looks and feels great. I've been playing Tomb Raider since the first one came out in stellar SVGA. This definitely gives old fans an amazing reward for sticking with our perpetual number one virtual girlfriend through the good and bad times.

Apparently this crash is from an Nvidia driver issue which is being worked on right now as opposed from the publisher. Also, the additional videos you can download from Steam are currently not available yet.

Still, a solid release if you're not playing an a GTX 600 series. People have claimed these crashes can be avoided by disabling Tessalation and Exclusive Full Screen. I simply, refuse to turn off

Tessalation, it just looks too good not to run it with. I will wait for the patch...


As of the latest Tomb Raider patch and Nvidia BETA drivers (GeForce 314.21 beta) everything works perfectly. There are no more crashes on my GTX 690 and the game is fluid. Everything is stable, and unless you have the fastest PC in the world, you probably cannot run at Ultimate detail with Ultra Shadows and TressFX. The GTX 690 (i5-3570K) can only run at playable framerates on Ultimate and TressFX with Normal Shadows (approximately 45-60 fps). On Ultra Shadows and Ultimate framerates drop considerably to ~35 fps which is too choppy.

Now as for the actual game... it is still 4 stars out of 5. Overall, the game is AAA quality, but there are still some minor nuisances that still detract from the immersion. Such things like poor obstabcle detection (some walls are of seemingly equal height but do not allow interaction until you are in the designated "hotspot") or some graphic clipping (notably from the use of the preorder Hunter Skin near the shoulders while running) are essentially annoying and yes... you can "look away" but this is what makes this game not perfect. I haven't tried multiplayer (probably never will) because frankly, Tomb Raider just isn't a multiplayer game for some of us (you know who you are!).

They also included a Batman-esque Detective Mode (Survival Instincts) which will help new players to the series as the older games made you work to find bonuses, relics and artifacts. Luckily, the programmers hide relics from view, so you cannot just use Survival Instincts to find them all. Good old players like me. Bonuses like GPS and Salvage though are shining brightly as if in plain sight.

For old Tomb Raider fans, this reboot is a true reboot. Forget what you know about Lara Croft from original cannon. This teenage girl is completely different from the grown woman we've known in years past. There are many surprises and changes to her story which will make your jaw drop. The cinematic scenes are also rendered using the game's engine, so it is best to optimize for framerates.

Bottom Line: This game is currently one of the best looking PC games on the market right now and only a true monster overclocked PC will run it with everything maxed out. It is a good game and worth buying if you're a die hard fan. Again, there are some control, environmental and graphical flaws; but not so much that the game is unplayable or unenjoyable. I am not sure if the graphical bugs are due to me running Nvidia, but I'm sure they're still working on more patches.


So it turns out they put a perk in this game that allows Lara to see all the relics and artifacts on the map. So much for good ol' Tomb Raiding :( That particular perk takes out any difficulty into finding the items, and essentially takes away from thoroughly searching a level on your own. I had not "unlocked" the perk early game so I had no idea it was there until I unlocked it (with full regret). This perk effectively takes out the fun of "raiding" and exploration (it also makes me wonder why anyone would buy the strategy guide). Also towards mid game the AI mechanics are lacking, and makes some of the sequences overly predictable. Once you get used to the AI (by the end of early game) the difficulty level goes way down. It seems the developers did not do anything to make the AI "smart" over the game period. That's unfortunate, but then again the older TR games did not exactly have very smart AI either. It is disappointing that most fights just feel like roadblocks hindering the story as opposed to adding to it.

I've also run into more clipping graphic bugs, in some areas it would show no walls but when you got up close to grab a book/relic the walls would instantly reappear (this might be again due to me running Nvidia...). I wish I could comment on AMD but I can't (then again the game is optimized for AMD).

I still think the game is worth buying if you're a die hard fan or just want to benchmark/show off your fast system. For those on the fence, or non-TR fans, perhaps it is best to wait for the hype to blow over. Still a fun game, but playing about halfway thru the game, I'm starting to see where they made significant changes to the series to help out "newbies". This is akin to what Ubisoft did to the Rainbow Six series from Raven Shield to Vegas. They took the "old fun out of it" to make "new fun and accessibility". This TR is made to be very forgiving and very accessible as you work through the game. I don't mind increasing accessibility (it's usually always a good thing). I do mind making it very forgiving even at the hardest difficulty (which is HARD, and what I am playing on), it doesn't feel hard at all. Perhaps the older TR games were much higher in difficulty in doing a complete 100% run, which is probably why it gave so many fans the satisfaction (ex: Croft Manor in TR: Anniversary, or even Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light). All one has to do to get 100% here is to set a marker on the relics/bonuses and follow the marker. All motivation for independent exploration is gone from the game, that is what I personally believe gave TR such a uniqueness to it. You had to raid the tombs fully to get 100% completion, now it's a set it (the market) and forget it affair (follow the marker). Now if you never cared to do any of the old TR to 100% completion, then you'll love this game. If you did, you'll find it very lacking and untrue to the series in that regard.

Nevertheless, I must commend the devs for making a true reboot, but graphics/acting aside I much prefer the old reboot of TR: Legend, Anniversary and Underworld due to the satisfaction of exploration and raiding. This is my last update, and hopefully this gives true and new TR fans a better look inside this new TR. Final Rating: 7/10