City Eye! Surveillance Sim Confirms You’re A peeper

Like to watch do you? Put those peeping skills to good use in City Eye - an indie camera surveillance game on Steam - this being a review of it...

Admit it, you’re a bit of a voyeur, aren’t you? A twitch of the blinds each time the neighbours rock up, ensuring that dog walker’s going to pick up that lawn cigar, and you have a bookmark on your browser for “shower-related” links. City Eye’s a little like that, though less likely to get you done for being a perv.

But first, some City Eye quick points:

  • A great concept of watching out for crimes and reporting them, but in practice, not so great.
  • Quite a chilled experience, irrespective of that chap on fire in the bin.
  • The bloody pop-up notifications that fill the screen are unnecessary.
  • While you can buy and update cameras, that’s all you can do. No new desk, a box of doughnuts or infra-red.
  • No, you can’t watch people take showers or see seedy things in the alleyways (though there are some who like to excrete in the street…).

Your job in this scenario is to keep Gotham, or as it’s written here, Strife City, safe. Keep the costume at bay until your next convention, as your level of protection is a watchful eye. Hell, Sauron was pretty damn powerful; surely a surveillance officer could be worth their weight in… erm… surveillance equipment?

Every Breath You Take…

City Eye Review - THAT'S a crime
THAT’S a crime. Source: Screen capture

From the safety of your control room, you watch each feed, looking for some action. Cameras are located wherever you place them, but you must earn them in City Eye. You become one with the camera, hopping into the lens using the mouse to move it around 360º, zooming on points of interest with the mouse wheel. A city map will indicate where they are located, allowing you to view each with a click.

This is the bit where you can start reciting what you learned during your education phase about Orwell as we’re gonna talk about Big Brother through the camera system. There are three packages: the basic cam, semi-automated and automated. With the former, you have to manually tag risks such as suspects or vulnerable citizens. The mid-range has some recognition software, and the latter does all of the above plus calls the emergency services. The latter not only saves you some hassle but the faster your response, the better the outcome of your shift.

New districts are unlocked in City Eye as you lower the crime rate. To reduce the crime rate (again, leave the costume for that convention), you simply have to nip crimes in the bud. Sometimes it’ll be some pleb pissing on a building; another might be a car on fire, or a little more extreme, Johnny Public being held up at gunpoint. Once you locate a crime in action, zoom in and select the appropriate action. In the last scenario, it would be advised to call the police, but if you’re a bit slow, perhaps pre-empt the paperwork and call the ambulance for later?

Shift Over

Your shift dictates playtime. A little gauge in the bottom right will tick by, letting you know how long you have left. Once your shift is up, you get a status report on perfect, good, and normal responses, missed emergencies, and how many events were completed (one-off events such as locating specific criminals). Lowering your crime rate moves you to the next areas, but this is predominantly about getting more funding so you can cast your beady eye across the city and not miss a thing. And no, you can’t watch people showering. Jump on your browser for that. Oh, and use a VPN. You’ll probably find one of offer through ANY YouTube stream.

Realistically, you will be spending your time waiting around, skipping through feeds to find something worthy of reporting in SIG Publishing’s game. Sometimes, nothing’s happening, but if you’re active and catch a crime early, you’ll get more dosh and lower the crime rate. As great as the City Eye concept is, the city is bland. There’s not much going on other than the same graffiti artists, fires, people falling over (then being blocked by a car so you can’t call the ambulance), or fights happening right under your nose. Yes, there are challenges the further you go, but if you get there.

The visuals in City Eye aren’t that great either. Sit dormant enough (which you will), and you’ll spot people running like an oversized toddler who has filled their pants. However, I’m not in it for the graphics – the idea of watching people (in a gaming environment) is good, but the execution is dull. We’ve all stopped to watch NPCs in games – whether that be the purdy folk in Red Dead Redemption 2, or streams of teleporting Cyberpunk 2077 pedestrians. It’s nice not to have to worry about a health bar or levelling up (besides getting better cameras), so overall, it’s pleasant on that part but very repetitive, and you’ll see it all in your first handful of shifts.