After receiving stellar reviews for the PlayStation™ 3 and Xbox 360® editions, the PC version of Tomb Raider is now available with a host of improvements in tow: AMD Radeon™ performance optimizations; DirectX® 11 graphics; better textures; and TressFX Hair, the world's first real-time hair physics system in a playable game! Let's dig right in and see how it all breaks down.
THE TOMB RAIDER STORY
Tomb Raider explores the intense and gritty origin story of Lara Croft and her ascent from a young woman to a hardened survivor. Armed only with raw instincts and the ability to push beyond the limits of human endurance, Lara must fight to unravel the dark history of a forgotten island to escape its relentless hold... and so much more!
Kicking off the list of innovations unique to the PC version, Tomb Raider features a technology called "TressFX Hair." This technology is the result of months of close collaboration between software engineers at AMD and Tomb Raider's developer, Crystal Dynamics. TressFX Hair revolutionizes in-game hair by using the DirectCompute programming language to unlock the massively-parallel processing capabilities of the Graphics Core Next architecture, enabling image quality previously reserved for pre-rendered images. Building on AMD's previous work on Order Independent Transparency (OIT), this method makes use of Per-Pixel Linked-List (PPLL) data structures to manage rendering complexity and memory usage.
Wind tears through a perilous chasm, whipping Lara's ponytail to the side. With TressFX Hair, each one of her thousands of individualized strands of hair are constantly changing with the windspeed. DirectCompute is additionally utilized to perform the real-time physics simulations for TressFX Hair. This physics system treats each strand of hair as a chain with dozens of links, permitting for forces like gravity, wind and movement of the head to move and curl Lara's hair in a realistic fashion. Further, collision detection is performed to ensure that strands do not pass through one another, or other solid surfaces such as Lara's head, clothing and body.
Finally, hair styles are simulated by gradually pulling the strands back towards their original shape after they have moved in response to an external force. Graphics cards featuring the Graphics Core Next architecture, like select AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series GPUs, are particularly well-equipped to handle these types of tasks, with their combination of fast on-chip shared memory and massive processing throughput on the order of trillions of operations per second. If you'd like to learn more about TressFX Hair, the world's first real-time hair physics system in a playable game, you can visit our technology page.
|GRAPHICS CARD||RESOLUTION||QUALITY PRESET|
|2x AMD Radeon� HD 7900 Series||2560x1600 (or less)||Ultimate|
|2x AMD Radeon� HD 7800 Series||2560x1600 (or less)||Ultimate|
|2x AMD Radeon� HD 7700 Series||1920x1200 (or less)||Ultimate|
|AMD Radeon� HD 7900 Series||2560x1600 (or less)||Ultimate|
|AMD Radeon� HD 7800 Series||2560x1600 (or less)||Ultimate|
|AMD Radeon� HD 7700 Series||1920x1200 (or less)||High|
OTHER GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGIES
As I mentioned, Tomb Raider is a DirectX® 11-enabled game—the first in the franchise, actually. That means it's chock full of features not found on the other versions of the game, all topped with performance optimizations that make AMD Radeon™ GPUs the definitive choice to play this game. Make sure you're using the latest AMD Catalyst™ 13.2 driver, and jump on in.
DEPTH OF FIELD
Another technology that uses DirectCompute, like TressFX Hair, depth of field (DOF) is a technique that simulates the blurring we perceive on distant objects that aren't in focus by the eyes or a camera lens. This technique is extremely common in photography and cinema, where the composition of a shot is designed to naturally draw the viewer's focus to a specific place or object that remains in focus.
To achieve this effect in a game, a variety of shapes may be utilized to simulate the "bokeh" lens effect on unfocused lights and highlights. The game engine then utilizes the computational horsepower of the Graphics Core Next Architecture to evaluate the focal length of the scene's imaginary lens, relying on that calculation to properly defocus background objects and apply those shapes.
Click image a before/after comparison of the "depth of field" effect.
HIGH DEFINITION AMBIENT OCCLUSION
Yet another technology developed by AMD's software engineers, high definition ambient occlusion (HDAO) imbues Tomb Raider with the ability to more realistically render the shadows we see when two objects are placed close to one another. HDAO accomplishes this first by collecting all of the visual information from the player's view of the game world, then by assessing all the angles, pits and valleys present in that view. Again using DirectCompute, Tomb Raider instructs the graphics card to increase or decrease the brightness of an area based on the analysis of those angles and valleys.
Click image a before/after comparison of the "HDAO" effect.
The drive to produce increasingly detailed scenery in PC gaming has long been a motivator in the industry. Newer games demand faster GPUs, and faster GPUs demand games like Tomb Raider that rise to meet the challenge. But the quest for detail has a price, and there are many: hard drive storage space, system RAM, framerates, GPU memory buffers and so on.
The solution to problems like these lie in innovative solutions like hardware tessellation, which allows for the procedural generation of more advanced scenes from a set of sparse instructions. Tessellation in Tomb Raider begins when a very simple patch-a triangle or quad-is passed to an engine in the GPU called the hull shader. The hull shader accepts the patch and prepares a set of instructions for the graphics card's tessellation units. These instructions tell the tessellation units how to build a complex object from the very simple object we started with. The tessellation unit will then—on the fly—generate that higher detail object, then pass it down the rendering pipeline where it ultimately appears on your screen with much greater visual fidelity than it started with.
Tomb Raider uses this technology hundreds and thousands of times per second to improve the appearance of both characters and scenery, even while improving the efficiency of their game engine with respect to framerates, memory requirements and more. For more information on hardware tessellation, please see this video demonstration of the technology.
Click image a before/after comparison of the "hardware tessellation" effect.
Super-sample anti-aliasing, or SSAA, is an aggressive and ultra-high quality anti-aliasing format that many people consider the best in the gaming industry. It achieves its stunning quality by rendering the game at 2-4x the resolution chosen by the user, then resizing each frame of the game down to fit the user's display. You've simulated the basic principle behind SSAA any time you've ever noticed that artifacts are less visible in a picture when you shrink it in your favorite image editing application.
Click image a before/after comparison of "FXAA" vs. "SSAA".
This feature computes the average distance of a shadow pixel from the object casting the shadow, meaning the effect judges how hard or soft the shadow should be. For instance, the nearer a pixel is to an object blocking a light source, the harder the shadow. This technique closely mimics shadows from the real world, which you've probably noticed appear more "solid" the closer they are to their source.
Click image a larger view of the "contact hardening shadows" effect.
AMD EYEFINITY TECHNOLOGY
And what would a modern game be without support for AMD Eyefinity technology? As a close partner with the AMD Gaming Evolved program, Tomb Raider of course supports this awesome multi-monitor technology.
Click image a larger view of Tomb Raider with AMD Eyefinity technology.
With TressFX Hair, DirectX® 11 support, optimization for the Graphics Core Next architecture, and loads of PC-specific graphical effects, Tomb Raider is a technical smörgåsbord for PC gamers. Truly, the PC version is the definitive experience! Now, if you're interested in bringing home a copy of this game for yourself, you can pick it up on Steam® today (March 5th) for $49.99 USD. Or you could get it for free! "Whoa, free? How?" Right now AMD is running a promotion called "Never Settle Reloaded." If you buy any AMD Radeon™ HD 7800 Series graphics card from a participating retailer, you'll get a free copy of Tomb Raider and a free copy of the upcoming BioShock Infinite! If you'd like to learn more about this promotion, you can visit the promotion page for a list of retailers.
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Robert Hallock is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD�s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.
1. Playable settings are defined as 30 frames per second.
2. System configuration for all benchmarks:
- Intel Core i7-3960X (3.3GHz)
- MSI X79A-GD65
- 16GB DDR3-1600
- Windows® 7 x64
- AMD Catalyst™ 13.2 Beta 7
- NVIDIA ForceWare 314.14 BETA
- All settings and resolutions described in performance charts