Dubbed "1999 Mode" (a reference to the 1999 release date of System Shock 2), this game mode won't just give the player less HP or make enemies more deadly; it will require the player to make tactical choices that have permanent effects on gameplay. This is an obvious departure from the Gene Tonic and Plasmid system in BioShock which allowed players to switch out their specializations at any time.
|“|| BioShock Infinite’s 1999 Mode will feature an especially demanding gaming experience, forcing you to examine your decisions while going through your adventure in Columbia. With every choice you make, there are irreversible implications, and if your choices guide you down a path not suited to your play style, you will suffer for it.
It’s not simply a matter of adjusting the difficulty sliders in the game – the team went much further than that. Resource planning? If you’re to survive this mode, proper planning will be crucial. Combat specializations? You’ll need to develop them efficiently and effectively throughout the story; any weapon will be useless to you unless you have that specialization. Combat? You will need to carefully target every shot, and your health will be set to an entirely different baseline. Game saves? Well, yes, there will be those, but according to Irrational Games Creative Director Ken Levine “there are game saves, and you’re gonna f***ing need them.”
Irrational says that they decided to make this optional game mode after examining the results of a survey of gamers on their site in December.
|“||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.||”|
Irrational Games is currently fielding questions from the community that they will answer in another blog post next week. You can send in questions to their Facebook page, Twitter account or in a comment on the Q & A blog post.
Ken Levine explained more about the 1999 Mode in an interview with IGN: "BioShock Infinite Gets Hardcore"