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There is a large contingent of gamers out there that long for the days when games were brutal on their players and the game over screen meant something.  It seems that Irrational Games employs more than a few members of this contingent themselves, because they've announced a "1999 mode" for BioShock Infinite.  This tougher game mode will force players to stick to their upgrade path decisions, provide tougher consequences for death in Columbia and demanding weapon, power, and health management.  

“We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots,” said Ken Levine, Creative Director of Irrational Games. “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."

While I am not the sort of gamer that would take advantage of this mode, I love the idea of a game company respecting the legacy of the games that came before them. Games used to be much harder, mostly because of rudimentary design elements and a much smaller development budget, and there are definitely gamers that miss the experience of having to fight through a level just to die right before the save point.  

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I don't know that I'd agree that all retro games with harder difficulties were due to budgets or design flaws, some games were just designed to be hard. Sure there are those that clearly show the signs of age and the limitations on the development is what clearly set the difficulty level.

I'm glad to see Irrational Games is nodding their head to the classic games. It's a trend that is happening more and more but you mainly see it in the indie space. Once again not due to design flaws or limitations but the actual design of the game itself.

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