'BioShock Infinite' Ups The Challenge With 1999 Mode

Ken Levine On Writing BioShock Infinite

It's been all quiet on the BioShock Infinite front over the last few months. The last major piece of news to come from Irrational Games' steampunk first person shooter was a brief teaser trailer at Spike's Video Game Awards - but even that one played it close to the vest. Things might be starting to pick up, though, as a new press release from Irrational and publisher 2K Games details a new mode for Infinite's single player campaign.

The "1999 Mode," as it's called (perhaps in homage to a time when - in Irrational's opinion - games like their own System Shock 2 weren't so coddling to the player), adds tweaks to Infinite's core gameplay to extend the challenge beyond even that of the highest difficulty setting. The announcement was still light on details, but Irrational Games Creative Director Ken Levine had this to say:

"We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots. 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.

"I'm an old school gamer. We wanted to make sure we were taking into account the play styles of gamers like me. So we went straight to the horse's mouth by asking them, on our website, a series of questions about how they play our games. 94.6 percent of respondents indicated that upgrade choices enhanced their BioShock gameplay experience; however, 56.8 percent indicated that being required to make permanent decisions about their character would have made the game even better."

Additionally, the "unforgiving" mode will call for a strenuous level of attention to weapon, power, and health management. Dying also brings the player to the vaunted "Game Over" screen should they lack the necessary supplies for revival - because let's face it, Vita Chambers are soooo 2012.

Bioshock announces 1999 mode

There's no word on whether or not players will have to unlock the mode by first completing Elizabeth and Booker Dewitt's story on a conventional setting, but we're fine as long as it doesn't require saves to be stored on an external memory card.

The news comes in lieu of recent statements by Irrational's development director that the studio was "on pins and needles" about Infinite's reception. However, from the bits and pieces of the game we've seen - particularly, its dazzling E3 demo - they'd do well to take a chill plasmid or two. The 1999 Mode looks to be yet another intriguing feature to a game that's quickly shaping up as a contender for 2012's Game of the Year.

Ranters, are you excited to pick up Bioshock: Infinite and party like it's 1999? Do you enjoy when a game to pushes its difficulty setting to the brink, or are accommodations like respawns and constant saving integral to a fun experience?

BioShock Infinite is currently targeted for a 2012 release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.


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