Hardcore: BioShock Infinite Has ‘1999 Mode’

Grubby girl.

Irrational Games have just announced a new play mode that will be appearing in BioShock Infinite. Called 1999 Mode, it’s aimed at appealing to those who think games have become too easy. Ken Levine explains, “We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots,” adding that 1999 Mode means that you’ll face more permanent consequences from their choices you make, and force you to stick with the specialisations you choose.

Levine continues,

“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.”

The mode will also require tougher management of your health, weapons and powers, with an actual “Game Over” screen appearing if you die without the resources to bring yourself back to life.

What are those consequences, and how much impact will it have on the game you’re being told? We should be able to bring you much more information about that tomorrow.


  1. BoZo says:

    This game just got a lot more interesting to me.

    • Eclipse says:

      agreed, even if I’d rather make that mode the normal one and call the current normal one “little pussy mode”

    • kukouri says:

      About time someone did this. Very appealing to older gamers.

      • DragonTHC says:

        Maybe it’s because I’m an older older gamer.

        I’ve been gaming since 1983. I skipped nintendo. So I guess I’m not keen on memorizing long and precise finishing moves or konami codes. I played atari and then commodore 64 and then sega genesis and then PSX and then PC, xbox, 360, and PC PC PC. I used to play counter-strike for 8 hours a day in my early 20s. Now I get about an hour a night if I’m lucky and a few hours on the weekends if I don’t have something to do with my kids.

        Games have gotten more retro for you types. But I have to question why you feel that “gameplay” is too easy. Is it because what’s really happening is games have to appeal to a wider audience than just you button mashers? They do. I personally feel that time in gaming’s history is much over-lauded. It’s only popular now because you guys are at an age when you have more to spend. And companies recognize that fact and appeal to your inner button masher the same way we all went to see the first transformers movie.

        A great game can’t just be about gameplay. But I’m glad there’s a mode to please all of you. I find it a better solution than being retro for the sake of seeming cooler than you are. At least they didn’t put in an 8-bit graphics filter. That would have been over the line.

    • Swanny says:

      This alone puts it on my to-buy list.

    • abigbat says:

      I really appreciate devs taking the time to implement features like this. To be fair, very few have the sort of development cycles where they can afford to tinker with features which will only appeal to a select few, but it really shows a respect for the community.

    • Khemm says:

      Ditto, but I also hope the 1999 mode on PC has proper keyboard and mouse controls and FOV.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Well I am totally in favour of higher difficulty, but perhaps one of my favourite parts of the first Bioshock was when abilities started to cycle randomly. Suddenly I was forced to improvise and think on my feet, instead of using the same old combos I had used through most of the game.

      I’m not sure if increased difficulty should necessarily correspond with less choice. I would rather have a hardcore mode that encouraged…no, demanded using all of the various abilities, perhaps even adding a puzzle solving element.

      I like the part about dying permanently though.

    • Tuco says:

      I’m not sure how this is going to change the fact that this game looks like a script-fest.

    • nyarlathotep-88 says:

      Agree 100%.

    • JasonRabbit75 says:

      “Very appealing to older gamers”
      Ha, I had the opposite reaction. 1999 mode would have been appealing when I was a younger gamer and had loads of patience and free time. Now that I’m an adult with a family, I don’t want video games to be exasperatingly difficult or require multiple playthroughs to see everything and try all the powers.

    • DiTH says:

      I just hope you dont have to finish the game once to enable that mode.Because im usually too bored to play a game twice in a row.
      Unless its something called Elder Scrolls or XCom

    • TheApologist says:

      Ditto – this sounds like a great option to have. I really like this response to diversified expectations among gamers.

    • Purlox says:

      @Snargelfargen: They said that you have limit on how many times you can use certain power (different powers will have different limits).

      So you probably won’t be able to use the same strategy all the time …

    • Sinkytown says:


      I agree entirely. Just up the difficulty – why make the game objectively less interesting?

    • Metonymy says:

      Tougher management of resources…wasn’t that exactly the thing that Bioshock(s) did wrong? And haven’t we discussed this a thousand times?

      Is there a problem with making the BAD BUYS tougher? Faster, better weapons, more of them?

    • Suits says:

      Should have called it ‘irrational mode’ instead.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      @Purlox – Well that’s something. Unfortunately “resource management” doesn’t always turn into variation in gameplay. I always have to stop myself from stockpiling the fun stuff!

    • Ruffian says:

      This sounds like a great idea, definitely played the first two games on hard and, up until near the end(s) they were not too hard. It’s to see someone finally catering a little bit to gamers who actually want their games to be challenging.
      i don’t understand how you can complain about bioshock infinite looking like a script fest unless you didn’t like the first two which, were pretty much by nature (cinematic fps) “script fests”, either way it still shouldn’t be the least bit surprising that BSI looks similar.

    • Necroscope says:

      New game mode: next time you die, it’s for real

  2. coldvvvave says:

    party like it’s 1999?

  3. woodsey says:

    “with an actual “Game Over” screen”

    Does this mean a “reload from a previous save”, actual death, no-stupid-vita chambers death screen, or does it mean an literal GAME OVER monstrosity from the 90s?

    I want the difficulty, but I don’t want something as sophisticated as this (will hopefully be) to get game-y.

    • salgado18 says:

      It’s supposed to be scary, and being Bioshock, makes sense. Also, actually fighting to survive with real consequences to death is just great.

      If you don’t like, don’t play the mode, there’s good-old 2012 mode included.

    • woodsey says:

      That’s what I said.

      I meant I don’t want game-y/arcade-y GAME OVER screens, or any of those visual elements from the 90s.

    • mod the world says:

      FPS gaming in the 90s: Quicksave before you enter a room, enter the room, have three monster spawn behind you, die, load your save game, enter the same room and turn around before the monsters spawn. If that’s their 1999 mode, then i will gladly pass.

    • Gira says:

      FPS gaming in the ’90s: actual open levels, designed by actual level designers (rather than setpiece “directors”), challenging encounters requiring some tactical thought on the player’s behalf, reasonably non-linear progression, huge secret areas … Yeah. What a terrible time. I can’t wait to play the next corridor-to-cutscene shooter. I’m sure it’ll be very Cinematic and Emotional.

    • Voon says:

      Don’t forget tedious backtracking, wide maze-like levels, annoying jump puzzles, trap rooms and dick moves by programmers. Doom is very, VERY guilty of this. Except for the jump puzzles. That’s Half-Life

      Not that I’ve hated 90’s FPS, I love them actually, but things like this annoys me a lot in those games.

  4. Lars Westergren says:

    Oh, excellent. This and Dishonored are my most hotly anticipated single player games of the year, every single thing I hear about them make me go “yeeesss!”.

  5. amorpheous says:

    As long as there are no checkpoints and there’s a quicksave feature, I’m in.

  6. Merus says:

    You’ll also go through a rift to a street with a movie theatre playing Star Wars Episode I: The Beginning.

  7. Zephro says:

    I hope it follows through with being called 1999 mode in the menu. But brilliant news!

  8. Faceless says:

    Sounds surprisingly different from what I imagined. Thought this would be another “you have less health and deal less damage” difficulty mode.

    More games should have properly thought out hard difficulty modes.

    • RagingLion says:

      Agreed. What changes with difficulty could be broken down better (of course it will take more time to implement and might be confusing to some). For instance specifically having an option to make the AI harder rather than just increased damage resistance or damage dealing.

    • Shooop says:

      Crysis had a nice way of doing that – hardest difficulty took away your HUD crosshairs and made the Koreans speak Korean.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      @Shoop: Oh yeah, that was a really nice touch. Although Crysis was still a bit too easy for me. Can’t think of any other games with a similar approach to difficulty right now, but there must be a few.

  9. The Sombrero Kid says:

    sounds impossible that they’d be able to put in a simple ‘mode’ with the depth of ss2 (which 1999 obv. refers to since they can’t use the system shock name) I’m a bit suspicious since bioshocks main failing was architectural simplification, that’s a bit more complex than swapping out a mode, I’m hopeful though of course, but I’m also worried they think their fans are “hardcore” which to me mean meat headed gamer who’ll play any drivel and clap.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      >but I’m also worried they think their fans are “hardcore” which to me mean meat headed gamer who’ll
      > play any drivel and clap.

      That’s two big assumptions in a row there, Kid.

      He referred to “old school” gamers, not “hardcore”. And even if he had used the word “hardcore”, he might not use it in the same way as some young console gamers who like frowny-angry men games use the word.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      I’m not saying i think he misjudges his audience, I’m worried he might’ve, esp. when this mode came out of focus testing, and there’s a huge difference in the target market for ss2 & bs:i it seems implausible that they’d be able to do it, clearly it’s a brilliant thing they’re trying.

      EDIT: also i was kinda trying to say, badly, that I don’t really see ss2 as old school game design and i tend to interpret the word to mean nostalgic but an objectively inferior experience, like extra lives or something.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      Things like the game over screen suggest they’ve completely missed the point, system shock 2 was one of the first fps games that had practically no repercussions to dying (assuming you’d found the cloning station on your floor).

    • Nick says:

      you mean like system shock 1 did?

    • Archonsod says:

      “He referred to “old school” gamers, not “hardcore”. And even if he had used the word “hardcore”, he might not use it in the same way as some young console gamers who like frowny-angry men games use the word. ”

      He clearly did mean it that way. Otherwise 1999 mode would have lowered the resolution to sub 320 levels to make up for the failing eyesight, boosted volume threefold to overcome the incipient deafness, slowed the game down 50% to make up for the failing reactions and had a special alarm you could set to remind you to take your medication.

      Not to mention replacing the plot with a rant about how it was all better when we were on E.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      It’s true, in System Shock 1 you could reprogram the cyborg machines to heal you instead of “turning” you. They were basically the same thing as Vita chambers/those things from SS2. In fact, a lot of the things that get credited to Bioshock and SS2 actually came straight out of the first game — including everyone’s favorite storytelling cliche, the audio log.

    • diebroken says:

      If anyone’s ever played System Shock then they know where the credit really lies…

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      I played the original system shock a lot when it came out but i don’t remember that, i don’t remember much about it though I was only 10.

  10. Carter says:

    But that was only yesterday!

    • Juan Carlo says:

      No shit. Give us 1994 mode, then we’ll talk.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Mmmm 1994. Mouse movement controls and gigantic interfaces. Those were the days.

  11. MannyCalavera says:

    ” You’ll face more permanent consequences from their choices you make, and force you to stick with the specialisations you choose.”

    This appeals A LOT. With choices should come consequences otherwise they are devoid of meaning.

    • Maxey says:

      Olhó Manny! Tudo bem, mano? ;)

      I was already interested in this game and now this mode has definitely sold me on it.

  12. JackShandy says:

    Reminds me of The Witcher 2’s hardcore mode: If Geralt dies, your save is deleted. As if that suddenly turns the game into a roguelike.

    What’s the point? Bioshock and TW are about the story. The gameplay is filler, your upgrade choices irrelevant. Stop trying to pretend you’re another kind of game.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      >Bioshock and TW are about the story. The gameplay is filler, your upgrade choices irrelevant.

      Those two games place great importance on story, but surely that doesn’t mean that gameplay becomes irrelevant?

      In some games upgrade choices DO affect story (choosing Cannibal perk in Fallout:NV for instance), maybe this game does too?

    • JackShandy says:

      I’m willing to believe they’ll let you choose between ending cutscenes, if that’s what you mean.

      Both TW2 and Bioshock let you have all the upgrades all the time. You could be an awesome hacker and magician and shooter.I can’t imagine Bioshock 2 is going to be any different, and so I can’t imagine any point to a Hardcore Decision Making mode.

    • John P says:

      What’s the point? Bioshock and TW are about the story. The gameplay is filler, your upgrade choices irrelevant. Stop trying to pretend you’re another kind of game.

      Good grief. No wonder you like Human Revolution.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      >I’m willing to believe they’ll let you choose between ending cutscenes, if that’s what you mean.

      Bioshock 1 famously had only 2 endings predicated on a single choice. This was brought up as a weakness by many reviews, and I think they were well aware of this.

      Bioshock 2 had 6 different endings depending on multiple choices you did earlier during the playthrough. It was significantly more dynamic than for instance DX:HR. It might be that this game takes it further, we shall see.

      >Both TW2 and Bioshock let you have all the upgrades all the time. You could be an awesome hacker and magician and shooter.I can’t imagine Bioshock 2 is going to be any different, and so I can’t imagine any point to a Hardcore Decision Making mode.

      But he just said Bioshock:Infinite WOULD be different? If you gain all powers, then there is no need to take away the ability to change them, right?

      Oh well, we shall see tomorrow when RPS reports further.

    • JackShandy says:

      Bioshock 2 was made by a different company, though, right? Speculation is useless, I suppose – I’m just assuming, from the incredibly scripted demo footage, that it’ll be an incredibly scripted game.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Your comment puzzles me, Jack. It puzzles me enough that I’m not sure I’m interpreting it correctly, so tell me if you think I’m wrong.

      I’m not going to be one of those “If you want story, read a book!” hardcore tetrist types, because I think there is a certain amount of merit to what you’re saying, but it seems bizarre to me to dismiss the entirely of the Bioshock and Witcher games’ gameplay as “filler”, because why play them – or games like them – at all? At that point, you might as well read a book. I mean, if what you care about is the delicious nougat of story, surely the extraction of same is much easier with a book? I mean, I seem to recall that there was even a novelization of Bioshock at some point, so why not just read that? Why play these games at all if you’re not getting anything out of the gameplay bits? I mean, are you? What’s the point of essentially putting obstacles between yourself and the next bit of narrative?

      I’m not trying to come off as a jerk or anything; I mean, maybe I’m wrong about what you mean. Just, y’know, clarification, please?

    • PopeJamal says:

      @ffordesoon: I can’t speak for Jack, but I can tell you what I don’t like: adding “features” to the game in an attempt to increase the number of bullet points on the back of the box. That’s what I consider “gamey”. Not gamey in the sense of engaging, well thought-out mechanics or game systems, but slap-dash additions to a game that don’t fit with and support the rest of the game. Examples of this would be things like:

      -“Explore a detailed world” vs “We make you traipse back and forth through the same corridors to pad out the length of the game” (“Library” in the original Halo getting my vote for worst offender)

      -“Your choices have consequences!” vs “All of choices are poorly balanced and just plain shit, but hey, we can turn our failing into a ‘feature’ by not allowing you to respec, thus forcing a reroll or another play through.”

      That second point is the key that has bitten me in the ass many a time already with different games. If you have well thought-out, interesting, engaging, and fun talents, then by all means limit choice. That enhances the experience and motivates me. But if you hold me to my choices and half of your talents are useless, unbalanced crap, then you’re just being an asshole:

      “Ha ha! We tricked you! We got you to choose the shit talents! Re-roll and try again loser! I told you we have re-play value!”

      This sounds suspiciously like they had the devs uncheck some of the boxes in the code, add a menu item and hit the save button. Hardly a well thought out strategy.

      It could be a knockout feature, but at this point, I’m dubious. Only time will tell.

    • DocSeuss says:

      @Lars: Bioshock had 3 endings. Good, neutral, evil.

      @Jack: Bioshock 2 was developed by 2K Marin and Digital Extremes. Bioshock was developed by 2K Boston/Irrational AND 2K Marin. It’s not like 2K Marin came out of nowhere. They did work on the first game, so they knew what they were doing when they improved upon it with the second.

    • ChrisP says:

      @DocSeuss: Not quite right I’m afraid, but I don’t blame you for that because it is quite confusing. As you’ll see if you check the dates, 2K Marin didn’t exist when Bioshock 1 was made.

      Bioshock 1 was made by 2K Boston and 2K Australia (formerly Irrational Games and Irrational Australia, respectively). *After* that, some “seed” employees left 2K Boston to recruit a bunch more people and establish 2K Marin.

      2K Marin and 2K Australia worked together on Bioshock 2 (and later, the XCOM FPS). Digital Extremes also worked on the multiplayer part of Bioshock 2. Some time later, 2K Boston was renamed back to Irrational Games and announced Bioshock Infinite. Some time after that, 2K Australia stopped working on the XCOM FPS (leaving that to 2K Marin only), and started working on Bioshock Infinite.

      So the two companies working on Infinite now are actually the same two that worked on Bioshock 1, if you ignore the name changes. Bioshock 2 was the odd one out in that regard. However, even that is an over-simplication because all three companies have close ties and some shared history; and the games industry being what it is, there would have been a lot of personnel movement over the years.

      TLDR: It’s complicated.

  13. suibriel says:

    How about instead of a “1999” mode you just make the game you want to make then slap a “2012” mode the console babies can choose?

    • ResonanceCascade says:


    • ffordesoon says:


      Nothing like PC elitism to prevent me from calling myself a “PC gamer”, even though I kind of am one.

      I’ll tell you why they don’t do that: because some people don’t want to deal with all the hassle of 1999 games, because they have children or spouses or, y’know, LIVES. They want to get through the thing and be done with it. AND THAT’S FINE. That doesn’t make them “console babies”, it makes them people who want a different thing out of games than what you and I want out of them. Isn’t that what the Looking Glass design philosphy was really all about? “Play our games the way you want to play them,” right? That philosophy was supposed to be inclusive, not exclusive, wasn’t it?

      But no, anyone who doesn’t want to work to have fun and “make hard choices” after a day their real job just shouldn’t be playing games as a hobby! No, designers should forever cater to the maniacs who aren’t satisfied unless your character can die of frostbite if you walk away from your computer for five minutes!

      And, I mean, I say this as one of those maniacs. But this attitude! As much as I prefer to shy away from medium-to-medium comparisons, it really is like getting mad at a novelist for not putting a disclaimer at the beginning of his book that reads, “ATTENTION: This book is really really hard and important and full of brilliant ideas, and if you don’t read it in a book club and write long essays about it, you’re a subhuman troglodyte, and I will personally punch you in the nose so hard that it breaks if I ever meet you!”

      When and why did the nerds become the bullies? That’s what I wanna know.

    • Gira says:

      Yeah, look, I’d like to speak up for the parents and husbands with demanding jobs who actually enjoy challenging, mechanically interesting games. I’m really tired of hearing whingebags like the guy above me claim the only people who do don’t have “lives”.

      Maybe we just, you know, want games to be games, and not 20-hour cutscenes?

    • ffordesoon says:


      Never said all people who want to play things more casually have lives and all the people who want a “challenging, mechanically interesting” game don’t. I think that if you go back and read my post, you’ll find that I simply said “some people”. And anyway, that wasn’t my point at all. My point was that calling the people who don’t want to experiment with systems and reload constantly and all the stuff you and I do like “console babies” is snobbery of the highest order, because they’re gamers too. They just want different things out of games than we do. That Infinite (theoretically; we’ll see how well it works when the game comes out) caters to both groups is worth celebrating, not dismissing.

      Also, “whingebag” is actually a pretty good insult! I might use that sometime! Thanks! :D

      EDIT: Also, for the record, one person’s “challenging and mechanically interesting” is another person’s “frustrating as hell”.

    • John P says:

      I’ll tell you why they don’t do that: because some people don’t want to deal with all the hassle of 1999 games, because they have children or spouses or, y’know, LIVES.

      That has nothing to do with this ‘1999 mode’.

    • ffordesoon says:

      @John P:

      You’re correct, it doesn’t. My comment was a reaction to the OP specifically, not a discussion of the “1999 Mode”. If you’re wondering why I was so vitriolic, it’s because comments like the OP’s really rankle me. I’ve never seen evidence of a difference in attitude between console and PC gamers, as I’ve said before, except that some PC gamers seem to sincerely believe they’re somehow better than console gamers. And, as someone who’s got an extensive history of gaming on all platforms, that elitism really aggravates me, because, well, elitism in general makes me angry.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Eh, I don’t think PC ‘elitism’ is worth getting riled over (and how hilarious is that term in this context? Being all up your own butt because you play a certain kind of video game is so bizarre and ridiculous that I don’t even know how you’d approach the subject in a serious conversation.)

      A dismissive and derisive “ugh” should do the trick.

  14. Was Neurotic says:

    Fuck, “an actual “Game Over” screen”? I can’t remember the last time I saw one of those in a AAA game.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Not sure if it counts as an AAA game, but I see a “Game Over” screen all the time in X3: Albion Prelude due mainly to my own incompetence.

  15. McDan says:

    Excellent, this is the kind of thing I had hoped for in my crazy dreams. Nice one Levine.

  16. asshibbitty says:

    “But what if the common man picks this mode by mistake? What if he starts talking about it on the Internet 8[ ? What if a reviewer tries it and thinks it sucks? What percentage of users will be interested in this?”

    -some of the questions Levine had to answer to push this through.

  17. djbriandamage says:

    Calling 1999 old school makes me feel old school

    • jrodman says:

      I played videogames in the 1970s.

      Soon I will fall into dust.

  18. Optimaximal says:

    What the need to do now is build the game *again* in the original Unreal engine and have a hotkey that will switch between both modes with a swish graphical effect.

    That’s the current trend, right?

  19. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Rant: yes, this sounds like 1999, and all the problems it had. What is it with developers considering permanent consequences a show-stopper. I don’t want a Hard Mode. I don’t want a game mode that tries to be toothless felatio, and another that bites when I’m not looking. If your ideas of choice and consequence are good, put them in the main game. Roll it into one. Be aggressive, not passive aggressive.

    Oh man, an actual Game Over screen! Haven’t seen one of those in years, and certainly not as a meatheaded approach to failure in videogames!

    Yeah, it’s a shame most devs have only seen one or two movies or read one or two books. Too bad some developers, apparently, only played one or two games as well.

  20. Ridnarhtim says:

    The game just went from ‘must have’ to ‘must haver…er’

  21. Ridnarhtim says:

    They should have made it 1998 mode, to make it clearer that it’s actually good. It seems that 1999 marked the beginning of the decline of the shooter.

  22. Robin says:

    Lol. When the whole gaming part will become optional?

    Next step in gaming medium evolution: movies. Can’t wait.

  23. JackDandy says:

    Sounds neat. Gotta love these kind of options.

  24. wccrawford says:

    I have absolutely no intention of playing this mode, but I’m glad the devs care enough about their customers to give them the options they want. This won’t negatively impact me in any way, and ‘hardcore’ gamers can play it their way.

    It’ll probably mean there’s an achievement I can’t get, but then… Wasn’t that supposed to be what achievements were about? Actually doing something hard and having a virtual trophy to remind you of it?

  25. G-Lord says:

    It’s good to have this option, but I’m not even sure if I will play it that way. Managed to get stuck in System Shock 2 in my first try :P

  26. thegooseking says:

    I like this.

    I am generally completely against difficulty for difficulty’s sake, because it’s boring, willy-waving nonsense. And I am glad games got easy, because difficulty in old games was all too often difficulty for difficulty’s sake.

    But it seems like Ken Levine, as usual, understands how difficulty is a tool that with proper application can make things interesting, and seems to intend to use it precisely in that way. Difficulty for interestingness’ sake is something I’m definitely not against. It’ll be interesting to see what he does with it in practice, and not in a “just like the old days” kind of way.

    • TheApologist says:

      Very well put. I’m not anti-progress, but this seems like a way of making other elements of the game more, or at least differently, meaningful.

      It’s definitely caught my attention

    • fenriz says:

      difficulty applied to something is always for “its sake”, if you single it out. You’re talking about an utopic type of difficulty that would feel somehow NEEDED, but there’s no such a thing(or it’s too hard to find it, its space is too narrow and nobody goes looking for it), that’s how they took interesting games away from us, they justified dumbing down by saying that some difficulties just aren’t necessary, they’re basically ballast. And that’s completely true. Ballast is all that makes the top of a mountain a worthy goal.

      You’re going over the same mistakes. Don’t, it’s all a scam for money sake.

  27. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Hardcore 1999 FPS games, like Unreal Tournament?

  28. Lacobus says:

    I’m glad there’s a lot of ppl on here who like this (ignoring the naysayers obv) I have a few friends who are against the degenerating difficulty of games myself.

    However, I’m glad games are easier, while still presenting a challenge. Unfortunately I’m not 15 anymore and don’t have enough free time to play games that go on for hours. Skyrim excluded of course, I think my gf’s going to actually murder me if I play that much longer.

  29. chivs688 says:

    Just went from not too bothered about the game to probably going to buy it now, purely because of this news :)

  30. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Wait, people are now saying they’ll be buying a new Bioshock game because actual choices and consequences may be optional? What did I miss?

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      The point, possibly. This mode seems to, among other more usual difficulty tweaks, make character upgrade choices permanent, rather than switchable. Pretty sure it’s a gameplay thing, and has little to do with choice and consequence in the actual narrative, which I think is what you’re getting at?

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      The “point”, as you so eloquently ah, pointed, is still pretty vague. For all intents and purposes, it may just be a case of ability selection. It may also influence narrative, which is what I’m mainly concerned about.

      Even if narrative does not figure into it, my comparison is still apt. How many people don’t moan about whatever new Mario game being lax on difficulty, specifically in terms of letting players make less than optimal choices but still being able to progress, but are behind this? It’s exactly the same thing, only it’s not called Nintendo Infinite.

      EDIT: Would System Shock 2 be a better game if in normal mode I could return to the ability training screen and weapons didn’t downgrade? Personally, no. Hell no. Which is why I’m not too keen on this mode, ‘s all.

  31. Velvetmeds says:

    Oh look, a gimmicky way of trying to bring in another section of the market… Since when has advertising/marketing become a game feature?

  32. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Pause to reflect on how gamers criticize Nintendo for not being hardcore, and how they applaud Irrational for making the challenge optional.

    I feel invisible hands putting a Bizarro #1 plate around my neck.

    • sneetch says:

      Apparently, you mistakenly (and bizarely) think that all gamers are supposed to somehow share the same opinions. They don’t and they’re not supposed to. Gamers are just people who play games, gamers are individuals, gamers have differing tastes.

      Now some gamers want more difficult games but others don’t, is it any surprise people actually applaud companies for providing the option of playing the game in the way they prefer rather than decreeing “this is the way it shall be!”?

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      Even more bizarrely, you seem to think I’m either addressing you or every possible gamer on the planet, when by exclusion of parts, you could have instead assumed, correctly, I was talking about two specific groups.

      You also seem to confuse my distaste for a decision, and surprise at specific reactions in specific contexts, with somehow wanting to force my opinion on someone. There’s a difference between “I don’t understand why subset of gamers A think X when Y happens, but are fine with X when Z happens” with “shut up because I’m right”.

      Bizarro world indeed.

  33. TheApologist says:

    There’s going to be a mod to clean Elizabeth up, right?

  34. eightbitrobot says:

    Faith in game restored.

    My interest in Infinite had dwindled over the past year or so, a lot of the previews focused on how amazingly cinematic the action was and not how the core gameplay concepts worked.

  35. Tafdolphin says:

    Here’s hoping this is an option for a first play-through and not a completion bonus. Also: massive, throbbing man-crush on Ken Levine now reaching dangerous levels…

  36. martinrivasacosta says:

    These are really good news, I just hope they allow the player to hold more than two weapons at the same time, for what I saw in the 15 minute gameplay video it uses the same system as a lot of modern shooters (nothing like 1999).

  37. Muzman says:

    Ho Ho. It’s now shockingly retro to have a game end on you for failing at it.
    Still, it’s a nice nod to Bioshock Bitchers (card carrying member). As others have mentioned, it may be for nowt if there’s not enough game to really make that work. But happy to give them a chance.

    I will always call back to the notion that they nerfed Bioshock in the first place because everything marketing and focus grouping told them bore out the trend to easy games. And many other games did the same since the Xbox came along.
    But then Demons’ Souls becomes a notable hit, on imports to start with, and the tide starts to turn.
    Yeah, you don’t want to pay too much attention to scared sales types. A little, but not too much.

  38. DrGonzo says:

    Isn’t this incredibly patronising? Calling it 1999 mode is like saying, you’re out of date and wrong, but we’re going to cater to you anyway.

  39. bill says:

    Wait, what?

    That’s not at all the point! they’ve spectacularly missed the point of games back in 1999. the problem with Bioshock (compared to the system shock games) wasn’t that you could swap out your plasmids… that was a great idea… who wants to be stuck with the same powers all game? The problem was that there wasn’t much point in swapping out your powers as they all effectively did the same thing, and there wasn’t much in the way of enemies or open level approaches to require any variation in approach.

    I don’t want bioshock with less fun. I want bioshock with more ways to have fun.

    • Urthman says:


      Their 1999 mode is exactly the opposite I want. Instead of adding in any of the stuff that System Shock does better than Bioshock, they’re taking away some of the few things that Bioshock does better.

      I’ll give them props for letting you turn off the direction arrows and item highlighting in the original Bioshock. That was a useful for choice, and I liked how they let you do it piecemeal so you could choose exactly which bits to turn off. An option screen like that would be a lot better than a single unitary “1999” mode.

      But sheesh. What makes a choice meaningful is not that it’s irrevocable. It’s that the options lead to significantly different outcomes. Forcing the player to repeat huge sections of your game to see both options is not going to make lame choices more interesting.

  40. Shooop says:

    Way to make me feel even more like a crotchety old man there guys.

  41. squareking says:

    Really? Is there such a discernible difference between the difficulty, gameplay and mechanics from current games that a ‘1999 mode’ should appeal to people who want a challenge? I don’t see why we can’t just have a System Shock-esque game (ie atmosphere, sense of isolation and dread, pseudo-RPG-y elements, inventory management, etc) with 2012 visuals. Are developers so afraid of alienating their primary audience?

    Sad times.

  42. ResonanceCascade says:

    1999 was the year System Sh…oh forget it.

  43. elnalter says:

    This should be normal mode, and the games normal mode should be casual. I don’t need a game to pander to me and call me “hardcore” just because I like difficulty. Go polish someone else’s e-peen levine.

  44. Demiath says:

    By far the best part of System Shock 2 was agonizing over what to spend those precious cybernetic modules on, so despite its silly name (SS2’s release date aside, did the world of gaming suddenly turn casual in 2000? 1 year before the release of Wizardry 8 and almost 6 years before the release of the Xbox 360? Please…) I’m definitely interested in the 1999 mode.

  45. ffordesoon says:

    My impression of other RPS comment threads on articles about Bioshock Infinite:

    “Too casual! Cater to me, I’m hardcore!”

    My impression of this comment thread:

    “How dare you cater to me!? Stop pandering, Levine!”


  46. HeavyStorm says:


  47. Frostbite says:

    Now this is how you develop games. I was mildly interested in this game but now I can’t wait to try it out myself.

  48. terry says:

    I’m excited for this, possibly because of my love for how bloody unforgiving and downright terrifying System Shock 2 could be if you blundered around without preparation.

    • kud13 says:

      in my playthrough of SS2, I ended up tackling the final level with but a single clip left in my trusty rifle. one of the most memorable end games ever, since literally,





      what they seem to be doing with the 1999 mode is going back to the good ol’ days of actually thinking about which upgrade to pick. It was one of the things I didn’t really care that much about in Bioshock–the fact that you could have everything you wanted.

  49. Vinraith says:

    I’m still not crazy about the characters, but this certainly makes the game more interesting than it was. It’s nice to see Levine making games that are a bit more like those he enjoys playing. It’s difficult to reconcile the guy I’ve listened to on 3MA with the games he’s been making lately.

  50. MichaelPalin says:

    oh,… I was thinking something else when I read “1999 mode”, like user-managed save system, less scripting, RPG elements that actually matter to the way of approaching situations (i.e., more ways of approaching a situation), less prompts telling me all the time what button to push, a skippable tutorial. That kind of things.