I’ve been playing SF2HF recently and I sometimes hear that, when playing online, it is too difficult to react to certain attacks such as <insert attack here>. Many were not baseless claims. This made me think about about the nature of online play. While I focus on SF2 in the following paragraphs, much of what I say is applicable in any other competitive game and is addressed to those who scorn the online mode.
Offline, good reflexes and quick and accurate execution of special moves to counter and hurt an opponent are absolute requirements for any good player. Another two things such a player exhibits are a keen sense of strategy and the ability to adapt quickly to an opponent’s style, discern his patterns, outthink and then defeat him. Such a player seems to anticipate his opponent’s next move. It’s quite beautiful to watch and it feels even better to perform as everybody knows. That’s why we loved that game back in the day.
Online, however, even the best connection still make reflexes less important compared to the ability to anticipate an opponent’s move as described above. The noticeably slow connections (the ones that slow the game 20% or more) accentuate that trend and also diminish the requirements for timely execution. If I have more time to execute it, I can pull off a shoryuken more reliably to punish a jump.
But the really good players still have strategy and adaptability so, The best 100 players offline and the best 100 players online will have a great many members in common. The same thing will happen if you look at the best players of SF2 and SF2CE. So SF2Online is simply a different game than SF2 Offline. It is balanced differently. Much like the way SF2 and SF2CE are. And, while it might be inferior to its offline counterpart, it’s still a damn good game if one lays away the prejudices aquired offline. When you stop thinking you can counter Blanka’s ball with a shoryuken and opt for a jab instead, you’re already half-way there.
Now, of course, the game might be broken irretrievably by such a change in balance. In fact, each game will have purists that say online is “broken”. Let me take SF2HF as an example: I play online with the top20 players and, as things stand right now, Ryu, Ken, Chunli, Blanka, Honda, Guile and Sagat all seem to hold their own (the best player being Sagat so far). That’s good variety. While this balance may change as people become more familiar with the ins and out of the game, it appears to be quite good.
Ultimately, each one has to make a subjective decision on the game and we should try to keep an open mind and not to be too hasty discarding it. We might miss out on something good. Ya know, like pizza with anchovies.
As far as x360’s SF2HF, if you have the means and the skill, I extend this invitation to you. We’ve got some good lobbys forming up with some fairly skilled people from all over the place. The U.S. of course, but also people from Colombia, Mexico, UK, Morocco, The Bahamas and so on.You’re welcome to drop by, it ought to be fun.