PQ2: Practical Intelligence Quotient - PSP - Preview

Can a video game test one’s level of intelligence? Can it – through the use of clever and/or skillful gameplay mechanics and objectives – reveal the inner workings of the human mind?

The trend for today’s games, especially puzzle games, is to make us believe that they can rate our intelligence. Practical Intelligence Quotient 2 is the sequel to the oddball puzzler where you control a solid white figure that looks like a human. Players are asked to solve “practical” puzzles and outsmart guards whose actions resemble those of the guards in Metal Gear Solid. The quotation marks are used to emphasize my disbelief that PIQ was practical. Some of its puzzles were excellent, but others were a tad crazy.

The developers must have agreed. While the first game was a daring and enjoyable experiment, PIQ2 is much more efficient at achieving that, “Oh, now I get it” effect. The revealed puzzles are both practical and intelligent. If this preview build is any indication, the finished product will be an excursion to the land of can’t-put-it-down entertainment.

 

As with the original, PIQ2 centers on the goal of getting from point A to point B. It sounds rather generic, but there are puzzles, obstacles, and other barriers that lie in between the two points to make the game interesting.

The significant goal of the game is to complete each puzzle (stage) quickly and within the suggested number of moves. You are not required to follow these goals, but your rating will be negatively affected. Any puzzle may be skipped at any time, allowing players to bypass the stages that drive them crazy. (There is at least one or two of those in here for every type of gamer.)

Most objectives involve the pushing and pulling of blocks to create a path to the goal. This is easier said than done. Push a block in the wrong hole and it may be stuck, preventing any further developments. The game has a reset function that allows players to re-start each stage quickly. Regardless of a your skills or presumed intelligence, most players will use this function frequently to undo incurable mistakes.

The game stages consist of square and rectangular platforms that appear to be floating in space (similar to the Intelligent Quotient games for PSone, for those of you who remember that series). You do not have any guns, weapons, or shields – only the ability to manipulate movable objects. In stage 1-4, the goal is to push the three given blocks over the ledge to form a bridge that reaches the goal.


Beware of laser beams.

Character movement has been programmed to the D-pad – an unusual but wise move that freed up the thumbstick for camera adjustments. It pays to examine your surroundings in every circumstance. By looking at the puzzle logically, the solution will be revealed. You can’t simply push the blocks off the ledge one by one – you have to line them up to connect with an adjoining pillar.

Glass blocks are one of the new difficulties being introduced in PIQ2. First off, glass blocks cannot block laser beams because they are transparent. Touch a laser beam and the mission is failed. Second, glass blocks are highly vulnerable to destruction. Standard blocks can be dropped from any level without consequence. Glass, however, must be carefully lifted and pushed to the appropriate destination.

In stage 2-8, players are given one large block and one small block. Both will be destroyed if you attempt to push them across the small gap that precedes the exit. But if you grab the small block and place it inside the gap, it will create a straight surface for you to push the big block over.

Other stages expand on the first game’s ideas of door switches, conveyer belts, and flashlight-carrying policemen. Certain stages feature a tracker that is able to follow the trail of your footsteps. He, like the guards in Konami’s prized franchise, will not deviate from your path. This creates an interesting bit of challenge that opens the game up to a world of enemy manipulation. Some of the puzzles cleverly integrate this idea into the solution by requiring you to lead the enemy to a door switch. As the enemy crosses the switch in his determination to track your every move, you will have no more than a few seconds to enter the opened gate. It’s suspenseful, intriguing, and makes you feel really good once the puzzle has been solved.

 

Due for release next week, Practical Intelligence Quotient 2 is in position to obliterate everything the original set out to achieve. Look for it on June 12.

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