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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Would Gran Turismo 4 Be Better Online?

John B. Marine | 5:30 PM | | | | | |
Early in its development, Gran Turismo 4 was supposed to be the first Gran Turismo with online multiplayer. Unfortunately, online play was not implemented for GT4. GT4 still ended up being an amazing game. However, could Gran Turismo 4 have been better had it actually implemented online multiplayer? This is more a commentary piece of mine than any educational material regarding GT4. So welcome to another post of "John's Race Space!"


Before I Begin...

Today (November 21) marks the anniversary of this blog named as "John's Race Space" from its original name of "John's Gran Turismo Space!"






Would Gran Turismo 4 Be Better With Online?


Gran Turismo 4 racing
^ from: (YouTube) - Could Gran Turismo 4 be better if it had online multiplayer, as previously promised?

Gran Turismo 4 had the early promise of being the first online multiplayer Gran Turismo title. Extensive work was done in preparation for this game to make its online debut. However, it was later reported that Polyphony Digital would drop the online play for GT4. This made GT4 as just another non-online GT title.

Just because Gran Turismo 4 lacked online play didn't mean people were unable to find workarounds. In fact, there was some pseudo online interactivity by connecting their PC to XLink Kai for LAN (local area network) play. Such methods give PlayStation 2 units the feeling of being connected online. People still somewhat managed to set up online multiplayer races in GT4 across LAN with this method.

In the classical sense, I always believe games should have a robust package offline and online. How much of a priority and of what level of importance online play is should be considered strongly outside of the base single player model. Do not make increased concentration of online play if a game's offline model is weak. A few differences in this would surface in later titles like Gran Turismo 5, Gran Turismo 6, and Gran Turismo SPORT. Let me go into further detail about this.




Gran Turismo 4 Offline and Online


This section delves into the deeper points regarding varying levels of concentration on offline and online content. Take a look.


Could GT4 Have Benefited from Proper Online?

The idea of an online-enabled Gran Turismo leads to having more replay value as you do not have to rely on only the in-game races. However, you may not have much to fall back on when the official servers are not active any longer. Think about when your Internet goes down or if your cellular phone coverage is down. What do you have to fall back on? If you do not have a reliance on online content, you have something interesting to fall back on. Conversely, if you do have a reliance on online content, a vast majority of content for that game ends up going kaput.

People could surely set up leagues and special races within Gran Turismo 4 to play online. Not having these online items would have cheapened Gran Turismo 4. Despite this, Gran Turismo 4 most has remained a solid Gran Turismo title. One of the advantages of online play is that you can take on actual human opposition instead of shoddy AI. Many a GT gamer have complained about overaggressive AI and rubber band AI in Gran Turismo games.

To me, the disappointments of this has led to some people finding other racing games, such as the upstart Forza Motorsport during GT4's development. One of those factors includes a lack of online multiplayer. People who mostly defected from Gran Turismo to Forza Motorsport at that time were more than pleased with what Forza Motorsport had to offer compared to Gran Turismo 4. A lot of games on the XBOX were tied religiously to XBOX Live, so you know you could enjoy solid competition anywhere in the world against people around the world. Since GT4 didn't have online play as promised previously, this meant most people had to settle for having local multiplayer without any sort of online connection.


Structure of Gran Turismo 4 With Online Play.

The disappointment of Gran Turismo 4 not having online multiplayer meant its would-be value was diminished. If Gran Turismo 4 had proper online multiplayer, it would open up two different avenues. Consider the following.

The first avenue would be how to structure Gran Turismo 4. Do you focus GT4 primarily on offline play while also offering a solid online model, or do you try to have an even balance of offline and online play? As long as you don't seem like you force people to play online to continue a game's lifespan, the game's appeal doesn't really take a serious hit.

The other avenue is on how to structure both an offline and online model of GT4. Could you possibly increase the concentration more on online play, leaving for a fairly weak offline system? Online play remains fun until the official servers are shut down. You don't want to leave someone with less of an experience with the single player as you probably could have with a combination of online and offline.

As evidence proven by the later Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo 6, the thing I would fear most is for Gran Turismo 4 to lack a sufficient offline model since you are somehow relying on online play to be more paramount than offline play. Even Gran Turismo SPORT eventually adopted single player elements to offset its previous online-only game play model. Gran Turismo 4 is fairly deep with its Gran Turismo mode. GT4 would probably have a very weak offline mode if its concentration on online play is stronger than its single player elements. The good news is that the offline material doesn't have to be as detailed since you have online play to fall back on. Since you don't have as much to focus on in the offline realm, you can afford to not make action as stringent because some people enjoy the multiplayer experience more than the single player experience. Having both in a game extends the appeal and lifespan of that game. Online-only games are mostly dead once the servers are shut down.


Is Gran Turismo 4 Better Offline?

Even if Gran Turismo 4 lacked proper online play, is it better offline? I would argue it would be. Having an online model means you have to enjoy a game while it lasts. An online-enabled game is not likely to be enjoyed online for eternity as the servers are shut down. I am someone who sees online multiplayer more as a perk than a necessity. It is only a necessity if you feel it is needed the game has to have online multiplayer to keep its appeal. And to me, it is important to have a solid single player experience rather than rely on online play to keep it relevant and active. Online multiplayer should bolster a game, not carry it. There wouldn't be too much outside of online multiplayer if Gran Turismo 4 relied on online multiplayer rather than have a mix of offline and online.

People would still complain over most of the usual things regarding Gran Turismo 4 even with online multiplayer. For instance, people would still complain over the car list not having the big manufactures (Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, etc.), a lack of damage, weak sounds, shoddy AI, and stuff like that. At least GT4 having online play means you won't have to take on AI opposition all the time. It also means you aren't restricted to the original races set up by Polyphony Digital. It goes both ways.

I still think Gran Turismo 4 would be great with or without online multiplayer. I see online multiplayer more as a nice bonus rather than anything necessarily needed. GT4's model would have to be incredibly modified to make for a better experience of offline and online. All in all, maybe not having online play in GT4 was a GOOD decision as it could probably wanted to make a better online model for Gran Turismo than what was previously planned for GT4.





That's what I think about GT4 and online multiplayer. What say you? Feel free to comment! Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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