Let's face it: In many ways, contemporary game design has made us soft. Quick saves, checkpoints, and watered-down difficulty settings make it easier than ever to see a game through from its opening sequence through its end credits. Irrational Games says it's come up with a way to make its upcoming BioShock Infinite appealing to people who appreciate modern gaming conveniences as well as those who want an especially difficult time.

The new 1999 Mode is more than just a difficulty setting; it offers a variety of gameplay tweaks that players wouldn't otherwise see.

“We want to give our oldest and most committed fans an option to go back to our roots,” says 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.
“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.”

One of the ways this kind of permanence manifests itself is by how it handles player death. If you don't have the resources to revive your character, welcome to the game over screen. Yikes.

Look for BioShock Infinite this year on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. To see the latest footage of the game in action, check out this trailer.