Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient
Score: 62%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: D3
Developer: NOW Productions
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Strategy

Graphics & Sound:
For the most part, the graphics in PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient are very simplistic. There are some special effects, but not much. The graphics are almost iconic, offering enough visible information to suggest something and no more. Weights that are used in some of the puzzles appear as grey blocks with different geometric shapes on their tops. If the shapes are the same, the weights are the same, if they look different, they weigh different. Other than that, you simply sort of recognize that a grey block is a weight.

The most aggravating visual aspect in PQ is the camera. You can use the shoulder buttons to rotate the camera around to the opposite direction, which is needed when you're moving around in 3D maze-like environments. Unfortunately, there's very little control; you can't, for example, stop the camera at 90 degrees... it is going to continue to swoop around to 180 degrees or (if you let go), return to the original camera angle. This doesn't present a problem all the time, but when it does, it's more than a mild aggravation.

The character that you play as is a white guy. Not Caucasian, mind you, but a guy that seems to be made of white light. There is no detail to the model -- no textures used at all, it seems. Just whiteness. Yet, it serves just fine to indicate what direction you are facing and where you are and, as such, does what it's supposed to.

The sound effects are lackluster and somewhat iconic themselves, but the music's not bad; the type of music that sort of sits in the background and lets you do your thing - which is good, considering the level of concentration you'll want to put to solving these problems.

PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient seems to take the "game" out of "Puzzle game". The result is that you are left with a series of puzzling problems to solve in a race against the clock that seems to be more about observing how you progress through the puzzles rather than whether or not you're enjoying the experience of playing the game. From time to time, playing PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient felt much like having a scientist present you with a problem, then when you complete it, saying, "Hm-mm. Interesting." and giving you another problem to solve. The feedback seems to be not enough to make you want to go on at times. It's not until after you finish all 100 problems that you get a more meaningful score. This can be a bit frustrating for those who are pleasantly used to the "instant gratification" most video games provide.

Aside from the somewhat ambiguous scoring during the game, PQ strays from your typical puzzle game in other ways, as well. If you've made a few moves and realized you've messed up, you can reset the current problem. Doing so will reset all of the pieces and start you at the beginning again. However, it won't reset your number of remaining available moves or your countdown timer. You'll have to use your remaining time and moves, but with more work to do. If you use all of your moves up, you'll still be able to make moves, but at a scoring penalty. If you run out of time, you won't get any points for passing the level, and you'll get another timer that will warn you that you have another 3 minutes before you've simply failed that problem. If all of this sounds less like a game and more like a test, that's because that's what it is.

However, there is a loop hole -- a work-around, if you will. If you find that you've done poorly on one of the problems, you can exit the game and go to the menu. Then, go back into your game; you'll find your time is reset and you're starting the problem over again. A bit time consuming, but possibly worth it if you've figured out how to solve the problem you were working on after messing it up and running low on time.

There are 100 problems to solve in PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient. They vary greatly in difficulty, from quite simple to tricky to very complex. Some are complex in the solving of a very localized problem, while others get their difficulty from the way they combine problems you've seen earlier in the game. In general, PQ does a good job of putting the easy problems towards the beginning and the difficult ones towards the end. The problems in any given level do seem to be more complex than the levels before it. Within a given level, however, you may feel that the problems weren't correctly ordered. This is likely to be affected by your personal approach to problems -- you'll find problems that utilize skills that you are better with to be easier than those that test skills that you have honed less.

Unfortunately, I can't offer much advice if you're aggravated by PQ's difficulty. If you get hung up on a problem here or there, you may want to choose "Pass" and move to the next one, but if you encounter several of those in a row, you probably should put the game down for a while; it can get quite frustrating at times.

Game Mechanics:
There are mechanics to talk about, sure -- but is it a game? There are different types of entertainment, and not all of them are "games". On one side of games is what we call "play". Play is identified by a marked lack of scoring or structured rules, with a high emphasis on simply having fun. Games, of course, are intended to be fun as well, but some of this sheer elation is tempered by structured rules that shape the way play is to occur. Beyond this range we find a realm that can be entertaining to some, but is not completely designed to be so. This area is all about rules, such as time limits, move limits, objectives, sub-objectives. This area is more work than play and this is where testing (think SATs, ACTs, etc.) exists. I would classify PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient in this last slot. While I was curious to see how I would rank in the test, it became more and more obvious with each problem I solved that I was not playing a game, but taking a test. The absence of meaningful feedback during the "game" can cause even someone with a great passion for problem solving to become uninterested long before the end of the test.

If viewed as a game, the difficulty in PQ would cause all but the most stalwart puzzle gamers to find something else to entertain them. A large number of those who stick around will lose patience with the non-resetting timer and move counter. Any stragglers are likely to become disenchanted by the lack of feedback. Beyond that, anyone who simply whizzes through this game is wasting their time and should be out inventing faster-than-light travel or something equally monumental.

In conclusion, I recommend renting PQ before buying it... but only if your teacher assigns it to you.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.