Seems that in order to meet the frenzied ‘holiday season’1 release targets, Sony have dropped online support from GT4.
Strong rumours from within Sony and Polyphony Digital had suggested that online problems were the primary cause of the delay to Gran Turismo 4, with the team encountering serious difficulty in getting the online racing modes up to scratch.
It seems likely that Sony took a decision to simply drop that functionality entirely from the game in order to ensure that it hit its Christmas release date.
This will be a major blow for GT4, but moreso the credibility of the PS2 as an online gaming console. You can accuse me of being an XBox fanboy, but I can assure you that I talk independently when I say that XBox Live! is the best online gameplay I have experienced. With online games like Forza Motorsport and Halo 2 in the pipeline, dropping online gameplay from what is arguably the PS2’s flagship series is a telling blow.
This won’t reduce enthusiasm for the Gran Turismo fans, and in fact will probably garner new PS2 players, especially if coupled with the release of the PSTwo. I do believe however that Sony should pretty much flag attempts to position the Ps2 as an online console, and leave that mantle for the PS3.
*1: This also reminds me of a recent Penny Arcade post. Why do game publishers insist on releasing all the good games in one big orgy of marketing?