E3 NEWS E3: This Time, It’s War!

An army helicopter swoops down over the rooftops and hovers above the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Before long, ropes are thrown out and soldiers decked out in combat fatigues repel down to the ground where other military personnel are positioned with guns beside an armored tank. No, it’s not one of those terrorism preparedness drills we’ve been hearing so much about. It’s opening day at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and the U.S. Army is out in force to promote its video game entry America’s Army for PC.

Inside the Convention Center is even more of a war zone as the sound of gunfire, explosions and sword play fill the air while the action plays out on jumbotrons and in screening rooms like the mock submarine interior where eager attendees get their first glimpse of the intense action in Electronic Arts’ Medal of Honor: Rising Sun.

Shills in Saddam Hussein masks mingle among the crowds as tens of thousands of industry professionals and journalists race around to take a peek at more 1,350 never-before-seen computer and video games and related products.

But it’s not all war games this year. Codemasters steps up to the mic with its upcoming interactive take on a Fox TV singing sensation. American Idol finalist Carmen Rasmussen makes an appearance to sign autographs for fans and promote the game based on the ratings darling. Two of the show‚s judges, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, are also scheduled to appear and judge the performances of attendees giving the game a whirl.

Games based on animated TV and movie properties are also abundant. Disney Interactive is on hand with demos of Finding Nemo and a teaser for the upcoming Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas game. Representing DreamWorks’ latest big-screen adventure is Atari with Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas for PC. Then, there’s Konami, which reveals three new titles in the Yu-Gi-Oh! television series.

E3 Expo, now in its ninth year, is owned by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA), the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of the companies publishing interactive games for consoles, handheld devices, personal computers and the Internet. IDSA members collectively account for more than 90 percent of the $6.9 billion in entertainment software sales in the U.S. in 2002, and billions more in export sales of American-made entertainment software.

E3 continues through Friday. Keep logging onto Animation Magazine Online for continuing coverage.