Game Review: “City EYE” (Steam PC)
Surveillance: noun: close observation of a person or group, especially one under suspicion
We live in a world where constant surveillance has been weaponized by overreaching technocratic dictatorships, projecting the right to privacy as a necessary sacrifice to ensure safety and security from both foreign and domestic threats. Observation devices are purchased at-will, sometimes worn on our wrists as status symbols, and other times installed in our homes and automobiles for the sake of convenience. These devices, tracked by GPS, have slowly evolved as extensions of our bodies, often causing anxiety, neurological, and physiological discomfort when separated from our proximity, even if only for a moment.
Objectively speaking, our thoughts, experiences, and knowledge cease to exist without our mind, body, and if you like, soul. If there is truth in that previous statement, then there is always information lost with every passing generation. For no matter how advanced and evolved we become, memory is not hereditary, experience is not passed down through our genes, and entire cultures can be lost in a day. However, with exponentially progressing advancement in technology, memory, visual and audio recordings, and records can be stored nearly indefinitely.
Subjectively, it could be argued that mankind has ascended as close to Godhood in the past decade than any generation had ever dreamed possible. Digital storage provides a method of immortality on earth. Every day, every action, every conversation, and possibly every thought is collected, preserved permanently in what we call cloud storage, and sold to the highest bidder for marketing and cognitive subversion purposes. In our digital age, information is currency, and can be used for or against us. Your consent is not required.
The constant pursuit of power will either leave you hungry for more or sick to your stomach
Now, imagine yourself in the role of an intelligence consultant, hired by a firm to utilize modern observation and surveillance technology to detect, discover, and dissipate criminal behavior. The job is simple: Observe & Report. You are not the party involved in kicking down doors and making arrests. Your job is to digitally track and tag possible suspects, and forward the information to law enforcement. You are not the party that determines if a car fire was the result of arson. Your job is to simply report your observation to the proper authorities, and trust the system to determine the suspected citizen’s fate. You provide a fair system of checks and balances, just as long as the population is willing to submit their reasonable expectation of privacy in exchange for security.
Conundrum. What if they do not? Here is where our story starts to unfold, the system begins to unravel, and the solid division of ethics begin to blur. What if you discover that the power that has been given to you, as a cog in surveillance the machine, is too much? Do you quit, trusting that the next agent will hold the responsibility of these same powers to an acceptable moral standard? Or, do you choose to stay, admitting a self-righteous self-awareness, but performing your duty as a selfless honor. After all, you have been told consistently that you have saved so many lives.
Still, you are unsure if the ends justify the means. The expectations of your job seem less black and white each day, and your sanity begins to crack with each citizen you serialize…
Oh, I apologize, I seem to have strayed into real-life events. If you are here for a review of City EYE, by SIG Publishing,* I would recommend that you instead go play Pressure Cooker for the Atari 2600, released in 1983. Not only is it in better keeping with our 80s August theme, but you will get a similar experience, but you’ll also be less disappointed.
Still want a real review? I will keep this short…
But first, Let Me Tell You More About Pressure Cooker!
The rules to Pressure Cooker are simple. As the Chef, buns roll down a conveyor belt, and random toppings sail across the screen. Your goal is to collect toppings, place them between top and bottom buns, and deliver specific burgers at the bottom of the screen, in exchange for points. Like most simple games of the early 80s, the challenge increases as the speed escalates.
The bad. There is no plot, there is no character development, gameplay is repetitive, the items look identical. There is no dialogue, command and control is fairly simple with only a few player controlled buttons, the repetitive movements get old fairly quickly, and the sound effects can become irritating over time.
Generally, we forgive this game because it is charming, fun, and was created roughly 40 years ago. Seriously, it is nearly the same gameplay as City EYE, only better.
Now, We Can Talk About City EYE…
In City EYE, there is no plot, there is no character development, gameplay is repetitive, and the items look identical. There is no dialogue, command and control is fairly simple with only a few player controlled buttons, the repetitive movements get old fairly quickly, and the sound effects can become irritating over time.
Pressure Cooker and City EYE have been broken down and summarized below:
- PC- Each shift begins slowly. The player can familiarize themselves with item locations and general controller functions.
- CE- Each shift begins slowly. The player can familiarize themselves with camera locations and general keyboard and mouse functions.
- PC- Upon observing an order, the player must build a burger, with limited variance, based on customer request.
- CE- Upon observing a crime, the player must process a response, with limited variance, based on situation.
- PC- After the shift is over you are awarded points based off shift performance. Repeat.
- CE- After the shift is over you are awarded money based off shift performance. Repeat.
Aside from inferior entertainment value, what sets City EYE apart from Pressure Cooker is the lack of music (other than sirens and the monotone drone of passing cars), the best PS2-era graphics money can buy, and the mechanic of money. Yet, the only purpose money serves in City EYE is to upgrade cameras. Doing so will automate the gameplay, as each upgraded camera will detect and notify police/fire department depending on the crime in progress. This needlessly eliminating the need for player interaction. So your reward for success is being even less burdened with playing the game, which is a fine endgame for me.
Similar to GTA3, the citizens of Strife City are so numb to public fist fights, vandalism and car fires, that they hardly react.
The good... I like the opening theme music.
Just Deserts, an Acrostic Conclusion
If this type of interaction sounds fun, again, I recommend Activision’s Pressure Cooker from 1983. If you’re instead intent on playing a game via a set of security cameras… maybe try Night Trap?
Keep This Free Tip: To remove gameplay even faster, please click the following link for instructions on how to remove City EYE from your Steam library. I suggest doing so now. If you are still unconvinced, you can check out City EYE on Steam here.
*Disclosure: A copy of City EYE was provided to The Splintering for the purpose of this review.
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Ha! A twist I didn’t see coming! Pressure Cooker for the win!