Polyphony Digital's long-awaited PS2 racing title Gran Turismo 4 is on track to meet worldwide release dates in early December - but at the cost of online play, which has been removed from the game.
At a press conference at the Tokyo Game Show today, Sony representatives confirmed that the game will launch in Japan on December 3rd, followed by a launch in the USA and Europe around December 14th (which probably means Friday December 17th in Europe).
However, the title will now be an offline game only, in a surprising move for the company - which had previously vaunted online play as being one of the key selling points for the new game.
The plan is now to launch Gran Turismo 4 with offline play this year, while a new Gran Turismo game with online play is provisionally scheduled for 2005 at some point. We don't know much about the new title as yet, although we'd speculate that it might be a budget-priced release, similar to the post-GT3 Gran Turismo Concept.
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.
Just for the record, if online play is dropped from "WWE Smackdown vs. Raw" xiaNaix will smash his PS2 to bits!