Tomb Raider's PC Version Is Good, Despite A Few Stray Hairs

After about seven hours with Tomb Raider, I'm on board with Evan's endorsement. It's a very good game, and a very strong example of the whole "game that's like a movie" thing that Uncharted laid out a few years back. But what of the PC version?

I've been putting it through its paces, and can happily report that it's a very strong port, albeit with some stray rough edges that will hopefully be ironed out in the near future. The PC port was handled by Nixxes, the same people responsible for the great PC versions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Sleeping Dogs, among others. Like those games, the PC version of Tomb Raider comes with all manner of expected PC customisation options, and it runs well.

I'm using a rig with an Intel i5 2.8GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM and a GeForce 660Ti graphics card, and have been able to get the game running pretty smoothly on "Ultra" settings. That means the framerate hits 60FPS a lot of the time, but slows to 45-50 when I'm in some of the bigger outdoor areas.

The game carries the AMD brand, and it seems like it's got some issues with Nvidia cards. That's mostly manifested itself in the constant crashing I experienced, which I fixed by toggling off tessellation, but which can apparently also be fixed by rolling back your drivers. I've also had a strange visual freak-out happen during a rainstorm shootout where suddenly, I was subjected to kaliedescopic visual glitching. Restarting the game fixed it, but even the main menu was totally glitched and unviewable, meaning I had to use the arrow keys and some guesswork to get myself to the "Quit game" option.

There are other bugs as well, and at least one Kotaku reader has reported the game being entirely unplayable on his 660Ti. There's also this video that Patricia found, which shows one of the game's most harrowing sequences playing out with a weird invisible-woman Lara. Eep.

But really, those kinds of bugs have been the exception, not the rule. The PC version also has a helpful benchmarking feature that lets you test out your various settings and get a feel for the FPS range you'll see. It seems a bit conservative with its verdict, but that's ok.

Another (very small) thing that nonetheless bugged me: It's too difficult to quit the game, largely because the in-game "quit to menu" option isn't at the bottom of the list as usual, but the middle:

Kinda weird. A small thing, but one I noticed. Mostly because, of course, it breaks one of the 10 commandments of video game menus. In fact, there are three steps -- the quit to menu click, an "are you sure" menu, and an additional quit game command in the menu -- between the player and their PC desktop in the game. Yes, these are the tiny things that bug me.

Enough about menus. Let's talk about hair! One of the features exclusive to the PC is the humorously named "TressFX" which AMD describes as "a new frontier of realism in PC gaming" and which I describe as "kind of weird-looking."

Here's a video of TressFX in action on my computer:

The cinematic Quicktime events in particular just don't work all that well on the keyboard -- for example, an early one has Lara scrambling up an incline to escape a cave. On a controller, players use the triggers, which feels like an approximation of the act of scrambling. On PC, it's the left and right keys, which don't feel as good and also make it confusing when players have to dodge left and right to avoid oncoming rocks.

There's also the problem Patricia pointed out pointed out where the game shows you the quicktime prompt in one place but tells you which button to press in another. That's confusing, and I've seen a ton of people getting stuck on the varios QTEs. Which is also a drag because often, if you fail a QTE, you're rewarded witha grisly, graphic death sequence. Not the kind of thing you want to watch 15 times while you try to figure out which button to press.

But those (mostly small) shortcomings aside, the whole, the PC version of Tomb Raider is a strong port. And Nvidia is working on a fix for the issues with their cards, so it's likely that it'll get more stable for Nvidia users sometime soon. Even as it stands, despite a few stray hairs, Tomb Raider's PC version matches the quality of the game itself.


Comments

    I definitely had some dramas with my tri-SLI GTX670s. Have been able to get it running with exclusive fullscreen and tesselation off under windows 7. However the same rig when booted into Windows 8 - tested with several different drivers - fails to start due to the dreaded direct3D error. When attempting to turn off tesselation and exclusive fullscreen the options menu crashes out instantly and the graphics options aren't where they should in the registry so they can't even be changed manually rendering it unplayable.

    So my experience has been playable in Windows 7 with some settings adjustments but a complete non-starter in Windows 8.

    Laras hair also somtimes disapears...but thats to be expected I guess (GTX 680)

      Same with my 7950. My son and I spent a good while giggling at a bald LC last night. :)

    the QTEs in the first 1/4 of the game are the only things that have pissed me off in the game and that was due to prompts not appearing or appearing but not registering

    Haven't had an issue on my 7970 Crossfire, not graphical glitches or anything yet ;D

    Also... great game.

      +1 my 6990 running this fine without a hiccup in about 8+ hrs of gameplay. I am really impressed with this port. It feels well polished.
      Nvidia peeps now know what it feels like when they are happily playing a title from launch while I wait for AMD to release some working drivers.. haha (which happens all too often) But it does feel good to have a game running flawlessly from launch for once :)

    Not to spark a "which platform is better" argument again - as I do understand that the PC is always vastly superior - but this is why I play games on console.
    Generally, bugs that manifest are those of "oops, we didn't test that" rather than "damn, we didn't test on (platform) with an installed (graphics card) with (graphic option) turned on".
    Disc goes in, play game. Less enthralling visuals, but I can deal.

    Last edited 10/03/13 12:32 pm

      yeah but some on....tessalation

      I dont know what is is but....tesselation!

      some of us just really like getting the most out of our hardware...Ive played on the console for a bit and you can really see its graphical limitations

        Sure, but I would call something that doesn't work on my PC because I bought the "wrong" video card more than a graphical limitation.

          You know you aren't describing the norm though, right? I have nvidia gtx 570 in sli (one of the supposed "wrong" cards and i've been able to max everything out with little to no slowdown and i haven't experienced a single crash or graphical glitch in around 10 hours of play so far. I actually haven't even experienced a crash in anything for probably close to a year now. I've never experienced a problem i couldn't fix with a combination of drivers or cooling. So for me, with minimal effort, i'm able to download/put the disc in (at significantly lower cost) and play mostly visually stunning games with thrice the detail and performance of their console counterparts. So instead of making it look like your situation is ideal and the one true answer, it isn't. People do things differently and your paranoia is not a symptom of a platforms limitations.

    I can play the game on ultra on my SLI 560Ti's, but TressFX has to be turned off - any close up zoom of Lara gets me under 5 fps :(

    Apart from that, no issues for me.

    No issues at all on my gigabyte nVidia 660 Ti

    Ive sent a message to Kotaku about this but in case they dont post it:
    Im running Tomb Raider with maximum settings and thought it looked good. Then I came across a thread on Steam with this advice. . .
    If youre playing in full screen mode you are NOT seeing the full level of detail.

    You MUST play in windowed mode for the full level of detail and effects to work! The link below has some screen shot comparisons but they do not do it justice.
    I was seven hours through before I switched to windowed mode and the graphical difference is outstanding! You will notice a massive difference from the opening title/menu screen.
    Im not talking a small difference to some effects, but a massive difference to all graphics and effects!

    This affects ALL PC PLAYERS! The graphical difference is incredible!

    The link below also has a link to a small patch file which lets you play in windowed mode with no borders.
    Im using the patch and have set the task bar to auto hide so, when playing in windowed mode, it looks full screen.

    http://steamcommunity.com/app/203160/discussions/0/846947231090179422/

    Do it!
    You wont be disappointed! (Well, only in the fact you played so long without realising).

      according to the comments you linked too, the latest patch fixed this.

    Oh, sorry, forgot to add. . . running a GTX 660 Ti.

      It must have been patched already the effects all work perfect for me gtx 580

        Do they? Or you just 'think' they do? ;) :p

        But seriously, you been getting lens flare? Sun effects? Rain drops on your screen? Blood splatters on the screen? All the fancy lighting effects? Because as of last night I wasn't getting any of that unless I go windowed mode.
        If you haven't tried it, then try it, you might be surprised.

          Interesting. Can't say I noticed the lens flare etc. so perhaps it wasn't appearing for me in fullscreen but running the game in windowed mode doesn't take advantage of crossfire so... *Shrug*

          Game still looked good enough and I had minimal bugs when I played on PC version. However a couple of things did require a quit to desktop and relaunch. i.e. Falling death and got stuck on a black screen, went to menu at a camp site but the menus were reversed (like looking in a mirror and I couldn't exit the menus).

          I'm a little surprised at Kirk's comment about finding the menu option to exit the game. ALT+F4 still works reasonably well...

        working fine on my rig of sli 580's as well besides the hair physics

    not buying this game, till there's a nude mod.

    For those saying its working 'fine'. . .
    Try windowed mode. I thought it was working fine too until I tried it. Then I realised how much I was missing.

      You said. And the latest patch fixed it anyway. Yes, I'm getting rain on the screen, lens flare etc. in full screen.

    Hell im even having problems with my HD 7950...
    every atleast 10 minutes I get this grey screen...
    after I updated to latest AMD Beta Drivers... just have to wait for new drivers...

    When i read a review i would like to know a little about the game itself not just how it preforms which is nice but not the entire story. I have been playing for a good 5 hours now and i found it a great game, have not quit yet so trying to finish it in one sitting atm. But little disappointed in the post as there could of been a lot more written that would of been constructive.

      There was a full Kotaku review here:
      http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/02/tomb-raider-the-kotaku-review/

      and if you use the tags, you'll find there's a figurative buttload of Tomb Raider info that's already been said

    Nvidia released a beta update (314.14) specifically for TR for the 600 series GTX's. It seemed to fix all the bugs for me (670GTX SLI)
    Try also using Nvidia Inspector and either use the TR2013 or Hitman: absolution profile to enable SLI.

    I haven't had any real graphics issues though I don't bother with super high settings (don't have a high-end gaming laptop anymore - GEForce GT635M). However, I am having a hell of a time getting my Logitech Dual Action controller to work properly. It is enough that I am regretting not getting the PS3 version instead. My camera control doesn't work at all. switching back and forth to aim between the mouse and movement on the controller is awkward at best. I've tried messing with settings, multiple controllers (both Logitech's), installing new drivers, re-calibrated, and nothing seems to work. Only major difference since the last time I used a controller to pc game is that I am now on Windows 8. Trying to find anyone that has successfully played with a controller on PC.

    Great game. your right those QTE's took me a while to get used to as well

    I have been playing on PC with an xbox controller. Really good. Running on am 670 and tressFX packs a massive performance hit. But it does look so good!!

    I had a couple crashes until I went to the latest Nvidia Beta drivers.

    Playing with a controller though, and not being all that use to them. I can't aim for shit. I need to take my time. With the dynamic camera, often you go to aim and are facing the opposite direction than intended.

    Running 3-Way SLI gtx 670s on windows 8 w/ 3820 oc'd to 4.65ghz game maxed out on everything except tessellation is off due to random freezes. Game runs my cards real hot. Got my fans at 85% with this gamearound 70c. Keep vsync on with my 120hz monitor game runs at 120fps 95% of time only dropping down on frames when the camera gets close to Laura's hair with tressfx on. overall tessellation bug us a stay away!

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