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.