Whether or not you agree with the sudden trend for real world benchmarks gleaned from real, off-the-shelf game titles, finding the right benchmark that tests the right features is the real challenge.
Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness, often referred to by its acronym of TRAOD, was one of the first DirectX 9 games to become available offering a customisable benchmarking facility through the use of a custom written patch , though its implementation is fussy to say the least.
Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness was released in the summer of 2003 by Eidos Interactive and brought wholesale DirectX 9 features to a real gaming environment. Realistic water effects, advanced reflection and refraction techniques and extensive post processing effects like depth of field (distance blur) all make heavy demands on a GPUâ€™s shader capabilities, while the complex character models, large textures and particle systems also call for bags of bandwidth and oodles of fill rate.
As a game, I happen to think that the latest Tomb Raider incarnation is a pretty poor effort. Itâ€™s buggy, clumsy and lacks refinement. Even the graphics surprisingly disappointing, but for benchmarking purposes weâ€™re not so much interested in how it looks, but more what demands it makes on the hardware running it. In that sense itâ€™s a good choice, provided itâ€™s not used as a sole representation of the hardwareâ€™s capabilities, something no benchmark yet created has the breadth to accomplish.
This isnâ€™t a technical breakdown on how to do this at home, itâ€™s more a fleeting look at what was involved and what the results may tell us.
Creating The Benchmark
To begin with itâ€™s necessary to record your â€œTime Demoâ€, a section of the game that can be replayed accurately on different graphics cards using different settings and, if necessary on different drivers. To do this we first need to find and download Patch v.49. This is no easy task as Eidos, who no longer offers any official support for it pulled the patch soon after its release.
With the game updated using the v.49 patch, itâ€™s then a relatively simple task to record your demo by creating a new shortcut with a few specific switches needed to activate the recording part of the process.
The next step is to create another custom shortcut that points to the demo weâ€™ve just created and use this to activate its playback. This shortcut can also be modified with some additional switches, which can be used to force the demo into different resolutions and anti-aliasing modes and can also specify which of the various Pixel Shaders are utilised.
In line with some other sites we felt that the best level to use was probably â€œPrague3aâ€ as it combines a demanding combination of high-end DirectX 9 and general hardware requirements in a relatively short section of gameplay.