I finally got a chance to try the PSN online for SFIV. I had tried searching for opponents a few times before, but maybe my connection is just terrible, because, the few times the lag rating even reported in the yellow range, my attempts to connect failed for unspecified reasons. This time, I just created my own rooms and waited for opponents. After a few minutes of waiting, and then having to endure a long load, presumably because my opponent hadn't installed his game, I got into my first match.
Honestly, it was a pretty terrible experience, as the game seemed to run at half-speed, throwing off my timing considerably. I managed to win that first match, but, then, to my shock, there was no option for a rematch. I didn't even get to go back to the room that I created to wait for another opponent. Instead the game automatically booted me back to the network menu, where I had to start the whole process all over again.
I had previously played some Soulcalibur IV and Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix online, and those systems were far superior. Soulcalibur IV was very laggy and HD Remix had a lot of bugs, but they still worked better than SFIV. In SFIV, the term "room" is very much a misnomer. A room consists only of the host and the challenger. There is no "quarter match" like in the other games, where you could simulate the arcade experience by placing several players in the same room and having them take turns, with the winner always staying on the machine, while those waiting could spectate the immediate match.
I hear that Capcom is working on a patch to enhance the online functionality. I hope it comes soon. Ideally, it would be cool if they could improve latency as well, but that might be a problem on my end, which, for some reason, I would find far more embarrassing than losing a match.
In other news, I picked up the Xbox 360 version of the Mad Catz Fightpad. To my surprise, the 360 Fightpad is an officially licensed product approved by Microsoft. Unlike the PS3 pad, it has no wireless capability and doesn't need batteries, so the entire controller is much thinner and more comfortable to hold. Of course, the major downside is that it's a wired controller, but, then again, the PS3's wireless functionality is not without issues.