BioShock Infinite gets a '1999 Mode' difficulty setting

January 20, 2012 // 9:57 a.m.

Tags: #1999-mode #bioshock #bioshock-infinite #irrational-games #ken-levine #looking-glass-games #system-shock-2

Irrational Games has announced a treat for those who like their gaming a little more old-school in its unforgivingness: the upcoming first-person splice-'em-up BioShock Infinite is to feature the rather special '1999 Mode.'

Designed to offer a more demanding gaming experience for those who are in to such things, enabling 1999 Mode will turn what would normally be relatively inconsequential decisions into game-changers that could leave the incautious suffering from an inability to play to their chosen style.

'We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots,' explained Irrational's creative director Ken Levine of the new game mode. 'In 1999 Mode, gamers face more of the permanent consequences of their gameplay decisions. In BioShock Infinite, gamers will have to sweat out the results of their actions. In addition, 1999 Mode will demand that players pick specializations, and focus on them.'

The brutal gameplay style enabled by 1999 Mode doesn't extend to disabling saves, Levine has confirmed: 'There are game saves, and you're gonna f***ing need them.'

Changes made to the gameplay when 1999 Mode is enabled will include a tighter focus on resource planning, mandatory combat specialisations that render weapons completely useless without its specific specialisation having been chosen, a totally different health baseline which makes combat a more dangerous prospect and even a requirement to target shots more effectively in order to put down enemies.

For those wondering why the name 1999 Mode was chosen, the answer would appear simple: back in 1999, Irrational Games worked with Looking Glass Studios to release a sequel to the latter's popular sci-fi epic System Shock. As with its predecessor, System Shock 2 featured an inventory with limited space, complex resource planning and research mechanics and weapon specialisation systems. It also featured some impressively punishing difficulty levels, although lacked the sliders from the original which allowed individual game elements - such as puzzle complexity and combat difficulty - to be adjusted independently.

From Levine's comments, it appears that BioShock Infinite will be a real return to his company's roots.

Pleased to hear that the hardcore gamers are getting some love, or do you think 1999 Mode is little more than a gimmick? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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